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Bad weather delayed Alps climber's rescue, inquest hears

A 67-year-old experienced climber from Maidenhead died on the Matterhorn from hypothermia after rescuers were unable to get to him due to adverse weather, an inquest heard.

Peter Rumble, from Palmers Close, had been climbing the mountain in Italy with his best friend Dennis ‘Robbie’ Robertson, on Thursday, August 4. The inquest, at Reading Town Hall on Tuesday, heard a statement provided by Italian Police and the Alpine Rescue Unit.

Coroner Peter Bedford, reading from the translation, said Italian Police had taken a call from the climbers at about 10.30pm to say they were in ‘serious trouble’.

In the call, they requested a rescue helicopter, but were told due to the weather it was ‘impossible’ to send one.

They also said they were suffering from hypothermia and in danger of losing their lives if rescuers could not reach them.

The next morning on Friday, August 5, a rescue helicopter still could not be sent due to ‘strong winds, limited visibility and snow’ but a rescue team set off on foot from a refuge.

The rescue team described the climb as 'very hard’ in difficult conditions.

They were forced to take shelter at 1pm, when weather conditions made it impossible to continue.

On Saturday, August 6 a helicopter spotted a rucksack and climbing equipment but it was unable to safely lower any of the rescue team.

At about 9.30am the first body was found buried in fresh snow. The second body was retrieved later in the day.

A post mortem report was read which confirmed that Mr Rumble died of hypothermia.

Mr Bedford recorded a conclusion of misadventure, and the cause of death was hypothermia.

He said: “There is no evidence to suggest they were not appropriately equipped for the task they were intending.

“It was planned well in advance, and it was always the intention to climb to the summit and back in a day, never to stay overnight.”

Andy Rumble, Peter’s son, told the inquest his father and Robbie were two very experienced climbers and they knew what they were doing.

He said: “They started climbing in their late teens or early 20s.

“They were well prepared, just not prepared to spend a night in those conditions.”

He added: “They made it a considerable way down and the fact that a qualified rescue team were unable to attempt shows how experienced they were.”

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