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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK


Everest climber feared dead

Michael Matthews, left, with friend Jamie Everett

A British climber is missing presumed dead after conquering Mount Everest.

Michael Matthews, 22, from south-west London was the youngest Briton to climb the peak.

BBC News' Caroline Simpson: Mr Matthews disappeared in atrocious weather
Mr Matthews disappeared as bad weather closed in as he made his descent from the summit on Thursday.

The London-based securities trader, was accompanied to the top of the 8,848 metre (29,028 ft) peak by fellow Briton Christopher Brown, 53, and Constantine Niarchos, 37, from Switzerland.

Mr Brown and Mr Niarchos, from the nine-member O.T.T. British Everest Expedition, returned safely and are resting at basecamp.

David Matthews recalls their last contact
Michael's father David Matthews, 55, said: "He was last seen by his climbing colleague about 600-700ft below the south summit descending in poor weather.

"An atrocious gale blew in and he became detached from his colleagues."

No chance

Mr Matthews, who runs a hotel on St Barth's, in the French West Indies with wife Jane, said there was no chance his son could have survived on the mountain.

He said: "Michael's oxygen would have run out within a couple of hours of him becoming detached.

"It has to be remembered this is the highest mountain in the world, and when the weather closes in at the top it can be savage."

Mr Matthews said his son was a very experienced mountaineer, who had climbed all over the world.

He said: "He was the youngest Briton to have reached the summit of Everest, although, funnily enough, he didn't hold that as an ambition - he just did it because he loved to climb."

Friend Jamie Everett pays tribute to Michael Matthews
Jamie Everett, a friend of Mr Matthews and a fellow climber, said: "He was a very talented climber, but it wasn't the all-consuming part of his life.

"To be honest, he would have been good at anything he tried to do, he was just a very talented guy."

Bodies airlifted

His father moved to the West Indies a few years ago with his mother and younger brother, Spencer, 10, while Michael settled in Fulham with his elder brother James, 23, both men working in the City.

  • Two climbers have died after slipping on wet grass and plunging 200m on a Scottish mountain.

    Donald Fraser, 32, and Carol Ann Murdoch, 25, were in a party of four climbing An Teallach, near Dundonnell, north-west Scotland.

    Police said the alarm was raised by their companions.

    Mountain rescuers were alerted and their bodies were brought down by an RAF helicopter.

    Mr Fraser lived in Craigard Terrace, Inverness, and Ms Murdoch in Torridon Park, Forres, northern Scotland.

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