British policeman describes escape from deadly snowstorm in Nepal

Report by ITV News reporter Rebecca Barry.

A British police officer has described how he led backpackers down from a high mountain pass in Nepal in a deadly snowstorm.

Paul Sherridan, 49, was among scores of hikers who became stranded without any shelter at the Thorang-La pass in the Himalayas earlier this week.

Nepalese authorities say at least 29 people died as a result of the freak weather conditions. More than 230 trekkers have been led or airlifted to safety since rescue efforts began on Wednesday.

But in a phone interview with ITV News, Mr Sherridan said that poor preparation and incompetence on the part of some of the mountain guides, rather than the weather, is to blame for the high death toll:

Mr Sherridan, a father of two from Doncaster, was hiking on the popular Annapurna mountain on the "trip of a lifetime".

The experienced mountaineer was initially cautious about making an attempt on the pass because of the snowy conditions, but was reassured by two local guides.

When he reached the pass, he was appalled to find scores of hikers - some of them without any basic equipment - huddled outside an overcrowded hut.

By this time, the tail end of a large typhoon that formed off the coast of India was dumping large amounts of snow in the remote region.

Even the local guides appeared disorientated and unsure about the best way to descend. Mr Sherridan said he saw one guide in a critical condition:

Eventually, he and one of the guides came across a pole in the snow marking a route down from the pass.

Mr Sherridan said he instructed the hikers around him to keep following the poles and to make sure they could see the person in front and behind at all times.

It wasn't until he reached a base camp further down the trail that he realised the size of the convoy he had led to safety.

Mr Sherridan was one of the lucky hikers to get down from the pass alive.

While grateful for his life, Mr Sherridan said he is still coming to terms with the fact that some of the hikers and guides he met will not have been so lucky.

The Nepalese government has announced a high level committee to monitor and co-ordinate rescue efforts which are ongoing.

Mountain rescue teams armed with shovels, ropes and ice axes, scoured an area buried under snow today for 10 hikers who are still missing.