Charlie Saunders was on a hiking weekend when he fell nearly 1,000ft down a gully on Mont Blanc.
His father Peter, 48, made a phone call to the emergency services as he searched for him but communication was cut off before he could give the location. He is also thought to have lost his footing.
Their bodies were found during an aerial search early yesterday more than 16 hours after the initial contact.
Today David Hudson, Charlie’s headteacher at the Royal Latin School near the Saunders family home in Buckingham, described him as a model pupil.
Mr Hudson said: “Charlie was a talented and very motivated boy who made a huge impact on the lives of everyone who knew him. He was a popular boy and threw himself into school life with 100 per cent effort and motivation to succeed.
“Charlie loved a wide range of sports and especially the great outdoors. He will be hugely missed and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family, especially his mother and sister, at this tragic time.”
A former pupil at the school, Ben Ogden, 19, was killed when his plane was engulfed in flames at an airport in Kathmandu last year.
The bodies of Mr Saunders and Charlie were discovered at 5,000 ft on the 15,781 ft mountain in the Couloir des Pyramides in the Chamonix valley. Charlie had fallen 980 ft and his father was 150 ft above him.
Today French police said they were wearing normal climbing boots in a treacherous area where climbers usually use crampons and other specialist gear in winter. Captain Patrice Ribes said they were wearing walking shoes suitable for the summer, which were wrong for the conditions.
“You need shoes with spikes at this time of year,” he said. “In normal shoes, it is difficult to stop once you start slipping. That slope is like a giant slide.” The family, who were believed to be flying out to France today, paid tribute to the pair in a statement which said: “Charlie was always full of life, had a really happy temperament and loved spending time with his father.
“Peter was fantastic at making things happen, resourceful, with a positive approach to life. They will both be sorely missed by friends and family alike.”
The family also thanked the French rescue services who managed to narrow down the search zone from a photograph Mr Saunders had sent to his wife earlier.
Alps deaths: headteacher’s tribute to Charlie Saunders, 12 who died before … – Evening Standard
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