A SNOWBOARDER has died in the Alps just days before he was expected to return to Edinburgh.
IT consultant John Lamb, 34, fell 3600ft to his death from a ridge close to the summit of Mont Blanc after heading out for “one last run” at the end of a five-month holiday.
He had packed up and was ready to hand back the keys to his apartment in Chamonix, but decided to take a final trip down the famous Vallée Blanche off-piste descent.
Before he left for the trip, Mr Lamb had helped develop the online shop of Edinburgh-based Hannah Zakari jewellery and fashion boutique.
He had moved to Chamonix for the winter, living in the resort and continuing his IT work remotely.
He and a friend set out on Saturday morning, but were forced to seek shelter in a snowstorm.
They made a snow hole for shelter and called the mountain rescue, but with their shelter filling with snow they made the decision to trek back up the mountain to seek refuge. The two men were hampered by strong winds whipping up the snow and a wind-chill temperature of -16C.
They attempted to return to the safety of the cable car station, but Mr Lamb slipped off a narrow pathway.
Andy Courtney, owner of the Chamonix And Beyond adventure travel company, who knew Mr Lamb, said: “The nightwatchman in the cable car station was trying to guide them back to him by phone, because it was too dangerous for the mountain rescue helicopter to go up in the snowstorm.
“The first man made it back safely, and John was apparently almost there when he slipped. It’s incredibly sad.
“John knew the area and had done courses in mountain skills. Everyone is shocked at his death.”
A Chamonix police spokesman said: “He would have been totally exhausted and the visibility was very poor.”
Mr Lamb’s mother, Lisbeth, 65, was still trying to find out more about her son’s death. She said: “We didn’t know anything about it until a friend went on Facebook. The most information I got was reading about it online.
“There’s a public holiday in France which isn’t helping. We’ve had people calling from the consulate, but they haven’t been able to get on to the police.”
The divorced University of Glasgow graduate had travelled to the French resort on his own to make the most of the mountains, tweeting before his departure in December: “I’m excited! It’s for five months, running away for a bit. Just need to learn French and pack now.”
He had bought a mountain bike and was a keen climber and marathon runner and was planning on leaving the resort at the end of the month.
His fellow skier, who has not been named, had apparently only met Mr Lamb a few days previously, when they both said they would like to attempt the Vallée Blanche descent.