British hikers who fell to death in Alps named as Peter and Charlie Saunders

The two were exploring a dangerous mountain trail

A father and son who fell to their deaths while on a hiking trip in the French Alps have been named as Peter Saunders, 48, and Charlie, 12.

Their bodies were found by rescue services near Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc, yesterday morning.

Mr Saunders, who is believed to be from Buckinghamshire, had called for help at 2pm local time on Saturday after Charlie fell down a cliff on a mountain trail in the Chamonix Valley. It is thought he died trying to rescue his son.

A statement issued by their family last night said: "Peter and Charlie Saunders had flown to the French Alps for a short weekend of adventure in the Chamonix Valley. They were to have a half day walking followed by a full day skiing.

"Charlie was always full of life, had a really happy temperament and loved spending time with his father. Peter was fantastic at making things happen, resourceful, with a positive approach to life. They will both be sorely missed by friends and family alike."

The family also thanked the French rescue services and asked for its privacy to be respected.

After flying into Geneva airport in Switzerland, the pair had set out on a hike known as Le Couloir des Bossons on Saturday morning. The trail, described by police as "very steep" with slippery rocks, is not recommended to be climbed in winter.

They are thought to have fallen "several hundred metres" to their deaths at an area of the valley known as "La Jonction".

According to French media, the father and son took a chairlift from Bossons village to the bottom of the Bossons Glacier at around 4,500ft.

They then began ascending La Jonction between the Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers – the route taken by the first Frenchmen to climb the 15,780ft Mount Blanc in 1786. The rescue centre at Annecy, in South-eastern France, received a brief call from the father at around 2pm on Saturday, saying that his son had fallen and disappeared.

"We think the father tried to find his son after he called us and asked for rescue. We believe he fell as he tried to find his son," Capt Patrice Ribes, the deputy commander of the mountain rescue gendarmerie at Chamonix, said. Moments later, before the man could give precise details of his location, the call was cut off.

Initial reports suggest the father had fallen to his death while on the telephone with rescue services. Both were said not to be wearing climbing equipment on the snowy trail.

It took until yesterday to discover the bodies due to the huge search area involved, Capt Ribes said.

The boy appeared to have fallen 300 metres while his father fell around 200 metres, investigators said.

Capt Ribes said: "They had equipment for a day's hiking with trekking-type shoes but not suited to the winter mountains with snow and ice."

Mountain guides said the routes around Mont Blanc had been covered in snow over the weekend.

"The footpaths usually don't get that many people out at this time of year because they are much more difficult to navigate," said Richard Mansfield, a guide who has worked at Chamonix.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Operative

£6 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a well e...

Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen