of Three Climbers Recovered
Searchers Dig Through Deep Snow
By our Own reporter
The bodies of three climbers who were buried in
snow avalanches on Sunday were dug out yesterday. At Turn, near Ramsbottom,
Lancashire, the body of Mr. David Levitt, 20, who had Alpine experience,
was uncovered from a mound of snow 10ft. deep.
The bodies of Mr. Graham West, 29, of Staley Drive, Staleybridge, Cheshire
and Mr. Michael Roberts, 27, of Cemetary Road, Dukinfield, Cheshire,
were found under 10ft. of snow at the foot of a gully which climbs out
of Chew Brook about four miles from Greenfield, just inside the Yorkshire
border with Lancashire.
A team of nearly a 100 including about 20 policemen, troops from
the Royal Army Pay Corps at Ladysmith Barracks, Preston and civilian
volunteers, searched for West and Roberts. The civilians included members
of the Manchester Gritstone Climbing Club, Manchester, of which West
was secretary and Roberts treasurer.
The search was called off shortly before midnight on Sunday, because
of appalling weather conditions, when the two men swept down the gully
by an avalanche had been missing for about eleven hours.
The two were in a party of four climbing the gully. The others were
Mr. John Smith, 19, of Warlow Drive, Greenfield and Alan Wheeler, 16,
of North Avenue, Greenfield. Smith said yesterday, as he walked down
the Chew Reservoir road, by which the searchers reached the scene:
We were in pairs with Graham West and Mike Roberts in front.
Everyone had ice axes except me, but we were not roped. The snow in
the gully was deep, but it was packed hard and the footholds were good.
We were well on the way up when I saw a block of snow coming down at
us. There was no warning and the next moment the gully was full of snow
rushing down. I got to one side of it, but Alan got caught. I couldnt
see anything at first, but then I saw Alan half buried and helped him
out. There was no sign of the other two.
An hours work
Police and Army vehicles could get no nearer than two miles to the scene
of the avalanche yesterday, snowdrifts and ice covering the reservoir
road. From there the searchers had an hours walk to the gully.
One of the diggers said afterwards, that the snow was frozen hard for
several feet. West was found first, lying face down and Roberts was
about 15 yards away.
Roberts was the father of five children and West was the father of two.
West recently published a book on gritstone climbing and was one of
the instructors in a climbing school for learners.
A WAVE of snow, swept
by a blizzard from the sheer face of a cliff, crashed down on two
climbers and sent them hurtling 200 ft. into a moorland valley
The men, both married with children, were buried under tons of ice
A third man who was climbing with them cheated death by inches as
he dived sideways out of the path of the avalanche.
The drama happened on the bleak 1,500 ft. Wilderness Crag above
Chew Valley, Greenfield, nr. Oldham, Lancashire.
Late last night, Police, Ambulancemen and a thirty strong team of
mountain rescuers temporarily called off their search in Artic conditions
for the missing men.
GRAHAM WEST, 29, of Staley Drive, Staleybridge, Cheshire and his pal
MICHAEL ROBERTS, 27, of Old Street, Dukingfield, Cheshire, who has
The man who escaped, John Smith, 19, of Warlow Drive, Greenfield,
said: I was behind Michael and Graham when there was a terrific
rumbling above us. I looked up and shouted for them to dive to safety.
I dived away. Michael and Graham were swept down the side of the mountain.
Graham, a teacher at Middleton RC Grammar School, has two children
and his wife is expecting another.