Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 11:26 UK

Lost climber's family warn others

Ben Cheek
Ben Cheek's family say they are "devastated"

The sister of a British climber lost in Pakistan has made an emotional plea to other mountaineers to think again before attempting dangerous climbs.

Ben Cheek, 28, of West Didsbury, Manchester, has been missing in the Himalayas since he failed to return from a solo expedition on 11 July.

A full-scale rescue mission was launched, but his family now accept it is "impossible" he could have survived.

Laura Cheek, from the Scottish Borders, said his family were "devastated".

She has urged other mountaineers to think about the possible consequences of attempting difficult climbs, particularly solo expeditions on unclimbed routes.

An avalanche could take your life too and leave your family shattered forever
Laura Cheek

"I believe there is now too much pressure in the climbing world for ever more daring and dangerous feats," Ms Cheek said.

"The Nick Estcourt Award was set up to honour Nick Estcourt, who died in an avalanche on K2, and it was this very award that gave Ben the opportunity to go out to Pakistan.

"It is tragic that Ben has met his fate in the same way.

"I would ask all climbers out there to remember Ben Cheek and the men who were killed on K2.

"Before attempting anything like what they did, please stop to think.

"An avalanche could take your life too and leave your family shattered forever.

"I can't believe that my brother will never come home again."

Map of Pakistan's Northern Areas

Mr Cheek is originally from Selkirk, Scottish Borders, but moved to the Manchester area a year ago where he worked as a research biologist for SSL International.

An experienced climber, he embarked on a five-day solo climb on Shimshal Whitehorn after taking part in a four-man expedition to the Distaghil Sar North Ridge.

The team failed to scale the 25,863ft peak, which had only been reached twice before, and Mr Cheek went his separate way to Shimshal, which he had attempted in 2006.

Mr Cheek's family and friends have decided to sponsor the charity SOS Children in his honour.

They will all be raising funds to help build and support a new village for orphaned children in the earthquake-devastated areas of northern Pakistan.

Ms Cheek said: "We would greatly appreciate any donations or help in fundraising even the smallest amounts for these orphaned children."

Search fails to find mountaineer
30 Jul 08 |  Manchester
Missing climber searches continue
29 Jul 08 |  Manchester
Missing climber 'warned off peak'
25 Jul 08 |  Manchester

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