Avalanche rescuer tells of struggle to save British climbers

Avalanche rescuer tells of struggle to save British climbersPA

A French mountain guide has spoken about the search for the three British climbers who died in an Avalanche in the French Alps last week.

Yann Delevaux told the Daily Mail that he and his colleagues used 10ft steel probes to search for victims.

He said: "I touched something with the probe. I shouted that I had found something and then the digging began. We got shovels, big shovels. The snow is heavy."

He added: "The first thing we saw was a badge - we knew then that we had found a mountain guide. You wish they are going to move but you know really that there's no chance.

"We saw that he was roped to someone. We dug and dug and followed the rope and found the second body. We saw the rope continued. We then found a third body.

"It's a clash of emotions. You are happy that you have found them but they are dead. That's terrible."

He explained: "You have such a range of emotions. They are someone's loved one, and as a guide you realise it could have been you."

Mr Delevaux and the team of rescuers found guide Roger Payne, Steve Barber and John Taylor.

They died along with three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss when the avalanche hit just after 5am on Thursday.

The men were in a party of 28 climbers on Mont Maudit, on their way to the summit of Mont Blanc.

Yesterday a memorial service was held for the victims at the church of St Michael in Chamonix.

Mr Payne was one of Britain's most respected climbers and Mr Barber and Mr Taylor were best friends who lived in the Yorkshire village of Upper Poppleton, near York.

Today, prayers wil be offered up for them and their families at All Saints Church in their home village.

Click on the image below for some special places to stay in rural France...

Special places to stay in rural France
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Avalanche rescuer tells of struggle to save British climbers

A modern whitewashed hotel on the outskirts of Rivedoux Plage, Maison des Algues is "impeccably maintained", says Sawdays. There's a small cricket pitch, terraces, gardens and an outdoor pool with free bike hire for exploring the local area and its white sand beaches. From 125 Euros per room, including breakfast. For details, visit sawdays.co.uk or call +33 (0)5 46 68 01 23. 

A mere hop over the channel, the beautiful countryside of Pas de Calais is perfect for a weekend away. Check out the wild, "funky and fabulous" Maison de Plumes: think soft gold walls and glossy black woodwork, with bedrooms designed in the pattern birds' plumage (hence the name). From €99 per room per night, including breakfast. For more details, visit sawdays.co.uk or call +33 (0)3 21 41 47 85.

Hidden just behind a small sleepy village square, this fifth century converted silk farm is full of surprises. A tranquil Mediterranean garden and vast bedrooms, a shaded courtyard and pool are just some of the treats to enjoy. From €220 per room per night, including breakfast  For more details, visit sawdays.co.uk or call +33 (0)4 66 81 38 41.

This quirky 16th century merchant's house with its own salon de the, exposed stone walls and customised furniture sits on the lovely Finistiere coast. Nearby, Le Conquet bustles with fisherman and boats and a local market. Kids wil love the bunk bedded room designed like a ship's cabin. From €60 per room per night, room only. For more information, visit sawdays.co.uk or call +33 (0)2 98 89 17 79.

Peace and serenity reign supreme at this remote 17th century farmhouse-cum-eco lodge on the edge of the Lac du Pecher. It's a place for nature lovers, beautifully decorated with "gigantic views". From €140 per room per night, half-board. Visit sawdays.co.uk for more, or call +33 47120 8309.

This 300-year-old vine workers' house has been revived with no expenses spared: think original 17th century fireplaces, snow-white linen and handsome oil paintings. And the beautiful village of Beune, with its medieval streets, is just a stone's throw away. From €220 per room per night, including breakfast. Visit sawdays.co.uk  or call +33 (0)3 80 22 82 84.

A fairy-tale like castle with much to enchant, you'll love the sprawling grounds, stained glass decor and deep sofas. Oh, and it's is also singled out for its 'incredible' food. From €88 per room per night, includes breakfast – sawdays.co.uk  +33 (0)4 77 66 64 60.

Peeping through lavender shutters at sweeping landscaped gardens, this rejuvenated Provencal house offers all sorts of delights, including its own natural rock pool for taking a cool dip, a masseur in the garden, an olive grove and a chicken run. From €180 per room per night, includes breakfast – for more information, visit sawdays.co.uk +33 (0)6 30 00 62 04.

In a large park with vast pastures and woods, this 16th century chateau boasts four-poster beds, a large pool and even a treehouse room complete with chandeliers. From €110 per room per night, room only. For more details, visit sawdays.co.uk  +33 (0)5 65 67 90 62.

This classic baroque 19th-century townhouse is hidden away off a bustling street: with its quiet lawned quadrangle, opulent boudoirs and ornate fireplaces and Philip Stark bathrooms, it promises to provide a welcome retreat from the buzzing Bordeaux atmosphere when you need to relax. From 160 Euros per room per night, room only. Visit sawdays.co.uk or call + 33 (0)5 57 88 28 80.

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