Relief that the ordeal is over

Gary Nelmes who died in Chamonix in the French Alps when he fell 120 feet.
Gary Nelmes who died in Chamonix in the French Alps when he fell 120 feet.

THE parents of a Brighouse climber who fell to his death in the French Alps in July 2009 have spoken of their relief that the inquest into his death has finally been held.

Mr and Mrs Glyn Nelmes have waited two-and-a-half years for the inquest into their 42-year-old son’s death to be held at Halifax Coroner’s Court.

Mr Gary Nelmes plunged 120ft down a crevasse when a snow bridge gave way as he was climbing with a friend near Chamonix.

“It has been difficult having to wait such a long time but the coroner’s office has done everything they can to keep us informed. We understand the delay was because there was a lot of information to collect from the French authorities.

“Gary was a very special person, an athlete and academic. He achieved so much in so many aspects of his life,” said Mr Nelmes, of Bailiff Bridge.

“He had two degrees, a master’s degree and another on the way, he did marathons, long distance swimming, he could sculpt and paint - you name it.”

A former pupil at Bailiff Bridge Junior School and the former Eastfield Secondary School, Mr Gary Nelmes lived in Milton Keynes and worked as media project manager for the Open University.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded at the inquest by coroner Tim Ratcliffe.

In a statement fellow climber Richard Jones, a police officer, told how he was powerless to help when his friend plummeted out of sight in front of him on weak snow.

The inquest heard Mr Jones could not see him from the top of deep ravine and got no response when he called out to him.

Unable to use his mobile phone in the remote spot, Mr Jones took a GPS reading of their location at 3,100m and went to get help.

A mountain-rescue team was scrambled but a lightning storm broke out, rendering the helicopter unable to land.

Rescuers went back the next day as soon as the weather allowed them to and found Mr Nelmes’s body at the bottom of the crevasse.

He had died from multiple injuries, as well as a punctured lung and hypothermia.

Mr Ratcliffe said the pair had known the risks and had done everything possible to minimise them.

He said: “They were both properly equipped, they both took account of weather conditions, they both climbed properly, came down at the appropriate time, and did what was appropriate according to best climbing practice.

“But mitigation of risk is not elimination of risk. Climbers know that.”