12 Jan 2009

British climbers plunge to death in French Alps

1:09 pm on 12 January 2009

Two British climbers, including the youngest Briton to conquer Everest, have fallen hundreds of metres to their deaths on Mont Blanc in the French Alps.

Rob Gauntlett and climbing partner James Atkinson, both 21, were killed on the east face of the mountain.

Mr Gauntlett reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2006 when he was just 19 years old.

His family say he and his friend James Atkinson had been ice-climbing in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix before what has been described as a big fall.

In November 2008 Mr Gauntlett and another friend James Hooper were named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year in recognition of a 35,000km journey using only human and natural power from the magnetic North to the magnetic South Poles to raise awareness of climate change.

After completing that trip, in April the pair sailed 1,800 nautical miles to Australia.