Pen yr Ole Wen. Photo: Neil Cowburn CC-BY-2.0

Pen yr Ole Wen. Photo: Neil Cowburn [CC-2.0]

Verdicts of accidental death were recorded on two walkers who fell to their deaths in separate incidents in Snowdonia.

Both accidents happened in winter conditions a month apart during one of the most prolonged periods of snow and ice in decades.

Derren Barber, 39, of Bognor Regis, fell about 140m (450ft) into a gully on Pen yr Ole Wen above the Ogwen Valley in January, suffering multiple injuries. Neither Mr Barber nor his walking companion David Goulding had ice axes. They were wearing Microspikes, slip-on, flexible spikes that do not require specific crampon-graded boots.

Chris Lloyd of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation told the inquest at Caernarfon yesterday that winter mountaineers should carry ice axes and know how to use them.

North-west Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones also heard how, the previous month, 70-year-old John Blackwell of Salisbury died after falling 25m (80 feet) while on Snowdon with his wife Valerie.

The court was told how the couple were descending from the summit by the Rhyd-Ddu path and stopped to eat lunch. Mr Blackwell’s rucksack was blown away and he slipped while trying to retrieve it and fell over an edge, sustaining head injuries from which he died.

Mr Pritchard-Jones said, although both men were well-equipped, there was, he believed, no such thing as a safe mountain.

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