Tributes for Alps avalanche victim
The mountaineering world has led tributes to one of the UK's most respected climbers after he was killed alongside two other Britons in a devastating avalanche.
Roger Payne, a mountain guide and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), was among nine people who lost their lives after being hit by a massive wall of snow in the French Alps on Thursday.
The victims were killed as they traversed Mont Maudit - translated as Cursed Mountain - in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix. Mr Payne, who was an avalanche instructor and well known across many branches of world climbing, was described as "one of the very best mountain guides" by fellow enthusiasts.
Dave Turnbull, the current chief executive of the BMC, said the mountaineering world was "shocked and saddened" by his tragic death. He added: "Roger was one of the UK's most enthusiastic and respected climbers, with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s."
British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington also paid tribute, saying the climber, who had taken part in more than 20 expeditions to the world's highest and most challenging peaks, was "a very special person".
Mr Payne, who was also a former president of the British Mountain Guide, was originally from Hammersmith in west London, but reportedly lived in Leysin, Switzerland, with New Zealand-born wife Julie-Ann Clyma, who is also an experienced mountaineer.
Two other Britons - including climber Dave Compton - were reported missing following the avalanche, but were confirmed safe and well after presenting themselves to police in Chamonix on Thursday evening. All those believed to have been missing have been accounted for, but police are due to continue searching the area later.
As well as Mr Payne and the two other Britons who are yet to be named, the avalanche claimed the lives of two Spaniards, three Germans and one Swiss, according to the Prefecture de la Haute-Savoie.
They all were part of a 28-strong group which left a climbing hut to attempt the route, described by local guides as the second most popular to the top of Mont Blanc, following a 1am breakfast. At around 5.20am, French authorities received reports that a "slab" avalanche had hit several groups of mountaineers who were roped together on the northern face of Mont Maudit at 13,123ft (4,000m).
Mr Compton, of Ellesmere Port, and his climbing mate were reported missing along with two Spaniards following the tragedy. He later revealed he was half an hour behind the group caught up in the avalanche and had turned back to Chamonix after seeing the aftermath.