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French Alps avalanche: Family left ‘devastated’ as Manchester-born climber named in group killed

By Dean Wilkins

The distraught family of Manchester climber killed in an avalanche on the French Alps yesterday said they are ‘devastated’ by his death.

Steve Barber and John Taylor, who were neighbours in Upper Poppleton, York, died while climbing the mountain range along with fellow British mountaineer Roger Payne.

A total of nine climbers were killed as they traversed Mont Maudit – three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss climber also died in the tragic accident.

Mr Taylor’s wife said: “We are all truly devastated about this loss.

“John always had a keen interest in outdoor activities taking up mountaineering in 1998 and was a highly regarded and very active member of mountain rescue teams himself.

“John had climbed several challenging mountains across the world, including Mont Blanc on two previous occasions. He was a highly respected climber and this event represents a significant loss to the UK climbing community.

“In his personal life, John was a finance director, working within the public and private sectors. He will be sadly missed by his work colleagues.

“The family would like to pay tribute to the Mountain Rescue teams based in France and elsewhere that tried to save John and his good friend Steve. They would also like to thank the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the assistance offered and provided at this time.”

The three Britons were in a group of 28 climbing the second most popular route of the mountain.

But yesterday morning a ‘slab’ avalanche – caused by heavy snow and strong winds – hit several groups of mountaineers who were roped together on the northern face of Mont Maudit at 13,123ft.

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