A major operation was unable to save the life of a Peak District climber at the weekend.

The 50-year-old man, from Rotherham, was rescued from the foot of Garland’s Pot in Giant’s Hole, one mile west of Winnats Pass near Castleton. He died later in hospital.

27 members of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) battled for two hours to free the man and a colleague who were trapped underground. Three other members of their party managed to climb out to the surface.

Derbyshire CRO chairman Bill Whitehouse said the man was unconscious when the rescue team reached him. He had become exhausted while tackling the pitch out of the pothole. A fit caver, he said, would have made it to the surface from his position in 15 minutes in normal circumstances.

He was stretchered out of the pothole in a difficult operation lasting two hours. Sadly, he died later in Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport. The route chosen by the party would normally take about two hours and includes the Crab Walk, a long, restricted section involving moving sideways.

They had entered the system at 11.15am on Sunday. Rescuers were alerted at 9pm. Mr Whitehouse explained that the men had simply been too cold and too tired to make the ascent back out of the cave after a long session underground. Giant’s Hole, while not a novice’s cave, is not considered particularly difficult.