Irish climbers who died in Mont Blanc range “very experienced”

Mountaineering community in Ireland talk of the two men’s huge contribution

Colm Ennis and Peter Britton

Colm Ennis and Peter Britton

 

Tributes have been paid to the two Irish mountaineers who died on a peak in the Mont Blanc massif range at the weekend.

The men, Peter Britton (55) from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, and Colm Ennis (37) from Waterford, lost their lives in a fall on the 4,013m-high Dent du Géant.

It is understood that their bodies were located in the French-Italian Alps on Sunday afternoon. A mountain rescue crew said they believed they died instantly, possibly on the descent.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to the families of the two men through its embassy in Paris.

Founded climbing club

Both men were founder members of the Rathgormack Climbing Club in the southeast’s Comeragh mountains, and were very skilled.

Mr Britton, who was married with children and was originally from Roscrea, was an engineer with South Tipperary local authority.

Mr Ennis was human resources manager at Amazon’s customer service centre in Cork.

Mountaineering Ireland chief executive Karl Boyle said the two men were very experienced alpinists, whose loss would be greatly felt within the climbing and hillwalking community.

“They made an enormous contribution to the sport and would have been instrumental in introducing young people and adults to hillwalking and climbing,”Mr Boyle said.

Mr Britton had previously been a member of the Irish Mountaineering Club and Mr Ennis was very involved with the De La Salle Scout Group.

Well prepared

“They understood the risks, would have been very well equipped and prepared, would have planned their route and they were climbing together for a very long time in Ireland, the Alps and elsewhere,” Mr Boyle said.

He said that Mountaineering Ireland extended its deepest sympathies to the families.

Mountaineer Dawson Stelfox, the first Irish man to climb Everest, also expressed his sympathies.

Mr Stelfox, who climbed the Dent du Géant or “Giant’s Tooth” spire with his wife Margaret several decades ago, said the route was well within the capabilities of both men. The 4,013m spire involves an abseil down as it is too sheer for any other descent.

Last week, two Finnish climbers died on Mont Blanc after falling into a crevasse. Earlier this month the body of a French climber who disappeared during a storm in 1982 was found on Mont Blanc.

Connemara death

The climber who died on the Twelve Bens at the weekend has been named as Fran McKeon (58), a father of three from Cavan who worked at the Department of Agriculture.