Two British skiers died in the French Alps on Sunday after jumping off a rocky ledge on to a notoriously difficult off-piste slope.
The men, who have not yet been named, were aged 25 and 30, and attempted to descend the Hat Corridor – Couloir du Chapeau – in the resort of Chamonix with a third friend.
‘He’s being interviewed about the accident at length, but it appears the skiers died instantly after dropping off the ledge and tumbling down,’ said a source in the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc area.
‘Both were experienced skiers, but got into difficult in the very steep corridor by the Grands Montets slopes.’
High mountain police believe that the men had seen tracks in the snow, and thought they were safe to follow them.
In fact officers had carried out a rescue of other skiers in exactly the same area on Saturday, saving those involved from any injury.
The descent is very popular with off piste skiers and snowboarders, who can easily reach it via the Grands Montets ski lifts.
In places, there is a 40-degree slope covered in trees and rocks – obstacles which become particularly dangerous during the kind of poor weather conditions Chamonix experienced on Sunday.
The bodies of the two British nationals were taken off the mountain by a police helicopter, while Chamonix officers working to state prosecutors opened an investigation.
Early enquiries suggest both men fell independently of each other, while taking the same route late on Sunday morning.
The third skier was able to raise the alarm at around 11.40am using his mobile phone, and is believed to be unhurt but in a state of extreme shock.
On January 7, British skier John Promell, 39, went missing in the French Alpine resort of Tignes after heading off for ‘one last run alone’ during severe weather.
Worried family and friends have not been able to reach him since, despite the possibility of his ski pass technically being used by the authorities to track down his exact location.
Numerous searches on the ground and using helicopters have not led to Mr Promell being found.
The tragedy followed the death of a young Englishman in similarly poor conditions after he went missing from the French Alpine resort of Risoul on January 2.
Owen Lewis, 22, and originally from Coventry, froze to death after getting lost as he tried to find his holiday apartment.
His bodywas found by a mountain stream, and footprints pointed to him getting lost, and then freezing in the snow.
Chamonix, which hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924, is one of the oldest ski resorts in France, and hugely popular with the thousands of Britons who holiday in the French Alps every year.