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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Climber dies in Alpine avalanche
Paul Damien Holmes
Damien Holmes moved to France to pursue his love of climbing
A mountaineer from north Wales who moved to the Alps to pursue his love of climbing has died in an avalanche on Mont Blanc.

Damien Holmes, 33, from Holywell, was killed on a glacier on the mountain near Chamonix in France while climbing on Wednesday.

Mr Holmes had just gained a mountain leader qualification the week before.

His father Kenneth said his son, based in France, had a great love of climbing and been "fully aware of the risks".

Mr Holmes, 74, said his son, whose first name was Paul but who known as Damien, had been climbing out of a glacier up one of the ice walls, roped up with his partner, when they heard a "tremendous cracking noise".

"A great rock came hurtling towards them," he said.

"They dodged the rock but it was followed by an avalanche."

'Deepest condolences'

His climbing partner contacted mountain rescue to help search for Mr Holmes, whose body was taken back to Chamonix, where he had been living temporarily.

Damian's two brothers are flying to France on Tuesday to make arrangements for his body to be brought back.

He had been climbing all his life since his father took him up Snowdon on his sixth birthday.

Kenneth Holmes, also a keen climber, said: "I felt like he was living my dream. My own son was doing what I wanted to do.

"All my life I have wanted to climb the Matterhorn and he did it for me. I lived my life through him.

"On his sixth birthday I took him as a treat up Snowdon. He liked it so much he said 'Dad, that's what I want to do'."

Mr Holmes added: "He was fully aware of the risks."

His son graduated from Manchester University with a degree in geography and spent some years teaching and working for the Prince's Trust charity before moving out to France so he could further his love of climbing.

Nick Colton from the British Mountaineering Council, of which Mr Holmes was a member, said: "The details are scant at the moment but it appears he was killed in a rockfall, while climbing recreationally. He wasn't working professionally.

"The British Mountaineering Council would like to pass on its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Paul Damien Holmes, who was killed in this tragic accident."

Mr Holmes' funeral will take place in Sheffield, where his wife Ceri is based for work.


SEE ALSO
Scots killed in Alps fall
08 Jul 02 |  Scotland

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