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  1. ITV Report

London-born climber killed in avalanche

Roger Payne was an experienced mountaineer. Photo: rogerpayne.info

Tributes have been pouring in for a British climber killed in an avalanche in the French Alps yesterday.

Roger Payne, who's originally from Hammersmith, was killed alongside eight other people (including two Britons) as they climbed in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix. They had been traversing Mont Maudit, which translates as "Cursed Mountain", when they were hit by a massive wall of snow. The two other Britons have been named as John Taylor and Steve Barber from York.

A mountain guide and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council, Mr Payne was an avalanche instructor who was well known in the world of climbing.

Dave Turnbull, the current chief executive of the BMC, said the mountaineering world was "shocked and saddened" by his tragic death.

"Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers, with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s," he added.

Kenton Cool, a leading Alpine climber who knew Mr Payne, described him as "one of the very best mountain guides" and said he was "stunned into a silence" after hearing the news.

He told the BBC: "Roger was a very cautious, incredibly experienced guide. This is going to send shockwaves through certainly the British guiding fraternity and the French one - a very close-knit French community in Chamonix."

The climbers had been part of a 28-strong group attempting the route to the top of Mont Blanc.

At around 5.20am, French authorities received reports that a "slab" avalanche had hit several groups of mountaineers who were roped together on the northern face of Mont Maudit.

A block of ice 16in (40cm) thick broke off and slid down the slope, creating a mass of snow that was 6ft (2m) deep and 328ft (100m) long.

Regional authorities believe it may have been triggered by a climber accidentally snapping off a slab of ice on the mountain.