TRIBUTES have been paid to a young climber from Petersfield who was found dead at the foot of a popular climbing spot in Wales.
The 23-year-old, along with a 48-year-old man from Sussex, was reported missing by fellow climbers near North Stack near Holyhead, Anglesey, on Saturday night.
A search-and-rescue operation was launched but both bodies were found in the sea at about 7.15am yesterday.
The 23-year-old has been named locally as Jack Hutton-Potts, whose family live in Penns Road, Petersfield, and was studying biomedical science at the University of Sussex in Brighton.
He is understood to have been a former pupil at Christ’s Hospital School, a boarding school, near Horsham.
The other dead climber has been formally named as Vaughan Holme, a father-of-three from Horsham, who is understood to work at the school and was an experienced mountain training instructor.
Jack was featured in November 2009 when he was bidding – along with his friend Tim Gauntlett, from Petworth, West Sussex – to become the youngest man to free climb El Capitan, a 3,280 ft-high mountain peak in California.
The pair were meant to climb the peak earlier that year, but cancelled it after Tim’s elder brother, Rob, fell to his death climbing in the Alps in January 2009.
That year Jack also suffered a 30ft-fall while climbing Lime Kilns in Fife, Scotland, breaking nine bones in his left hand and both his arms.
He underwent four operations and needed six pieces of metal inserted into his body to aid his recovery.
Jack, whose also loved kite boarding and downhill cycling, slowly rebuilt his strength and returned to mountaineering just seven weeks after coming out of plaster.
He was due to climb El Capitan in September 2010, but it’s not thought this happened, with the last entry on his online blog in January 2010.
The challenge was aiming to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
His father, David Hutton-Potts, has been battling the condition.
Jack’s online blog from 2009 said: ‘I have to keep reminding myself how rapid my recovery has been and not set myself unreasonable standards! Despite this I’ve been training hard and I’m really starting to feel good after doing so.
‘ I can feel my strength coming back and I’m really motivated to get out there again and raise a whole load of money for the MSS.’
A friend of the Hutton-Potts family, who did not want to be named, said in an interview: ‘It’s a real shame.
‘Jack pretty much had his whole life in front of him.
‘It’s just a devastating loss for the whole family.’
He said climbing was a real passion for Jack.
One tweet said: ‘RIP Vaughan Holme and Jack Hutton-Potts. Sad news.’
Trystan Jones tweeted: ‘It’s amazing how quickly life can quickly end. Rest in Peace Mr Holme you are a true legend.’
Ben Clark tweeted: ‘Very sad to hear the awful news about Mr Holmes and Jack Hutton-Potts. RIP’
Police are not treating the deaths as suspicious and will investigate the incident on behalf of the coroner.
Officials for the coroner in North Wales said the inquest into both deaths would be opened and adjourned today.