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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
'Accidental' Mont Blanc deaths
Mont Blanc
One of the climbers got into difficulties on Mont Blanc
An inquest has ruled that two Gloucestershire climbers fell to their deaths on Mont Blanc when a rock they were attached to gave way.

Coroner Lester Maddrell recorded verdicts of accidental death at the inquest in Tewkesbury after hearing how Mark Greenhalgh and David Freeman fell during a climbing holiday with a friend, Philip Walker, on 13 July 2001.

A post mortem examination found both had died as a result of multiple injuries, including fractures of the skull, and that death would have been instant.

Local police concluded the equipment the men had been using was in good order.

'Tragic'

The coroner was told the trio began to ascend the Cosmique ridge on the mountain, but as they progressed Mr Greenhalgh got into difficulties and they decided to abseil down to an easier area.

Mr Walker descended first, then stood to one side as the others started to come down together.


It is simply a risk that exists in climbing that accidents of this kind can happen

Coroner Lester Maddrell
The inquest heard that Mr Walker later told local police: "When the rock gave way it all happened very quickly.

"There was nothing I could do. I cannot explain why a block of stone which had seemed perfectly secure broke away."

A rescue helicopter attended the scene but found 39-year old Mr Greenhalgh and 45-year old Mr Freeman dead at the scene.

Recording his verdict, Mr Maddrell said: "It is particularly tragic that two still young and fit men engaging in a sport that they enjoyed and loved should have lost their lives in this way.

"It is simply a risk that exists in climbing that accidents of this kind can and unfortunately do happen."

After the inquest the families of both men declined to comment.


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