An intrepid explorer is giving back to the mountain rescue teams that searched bravely for her friends after they were tragically killed in a freak avalanche.

The bodies of young couple Rachel Slater and Tim Newton were found five weeks after they disappeared on Ben Nevis in February 2016.

Alex Shermer was best friends with Miss Slater, who was 24 when she died, when they studied together at the University of Manchester.

Alex Shermer
Alex Shermer

The pair grew close through the university’s climbing club – and Miss Shermer was “devastated” when she heard what had happened to her pal.

Now she has organised a huge challenge for fellow climbing club members Mike Bottom and Oli Crudge in aid of Lochaber, Llanberis and Keswick mountain rescue teams.

The pair will attempt to run up each of the three peaks in just four days – cycling between the imposing mountains.

JCB buyer Miss Shermer, from Denstone, will support them by driving alongside them and keeping them fed, watered and motivated.

The 27-year-old said: “Rachel, Mike, Oli and I all lived together at uni and were really close. Rachel and I were just inseparable.

“She met Tim after university and they were so happy together. When I heard the news, I was just devastated.

“After they were reported missing we knew what the outcome was going to be, but part of you doesn’t want to believe it until they’ve been found.

“The only thing we clung to during what was such a difficult time was that they died doing what they loved in the place they loved.”

Mike Bottom and Oli Crudge, who are running up each of the three peaks and cycling in between them
Mike Bottom and Oli Crudge, who are running up each of the three peaks and cycling in between them

The College Road resident, who will soon return to university in Bristol to study physics, said she, Mr Bottom and Mr Crudge deliberated long and hard about how to pay tribute to the couple.

She said: “When we were at uni, every spare moment was spent exploring, adventuring or finding some kind of new challenge.

“Last year was so tough for all of us, but our uni group spent a lot of time together, reminiscing and thinking what we can do. We thought this was the best way to honour Rachel’s memory.”

“The Lochaber mountain rescue team spent many gruelling hours in terrible conditions and dangerous terrain searching for our friends.

“We would like to thank them for their efforts by raising some money for them and their counterparts in Llanberis and Keswick, who also perform similarly-heroic missions.

“The mountain rescue service is run by volunteers and depends on donations to maintain and purchase equipment as well as to cover their running costs.

“To put this in perspective, an 800m rope that they may only be able to safely use once costs £1,000. We are aiming to raise £5,000.”

The trio will start their challenge on July 31 at Snowdon, Wales, and finish with Ben Nevis, Scotland, where they will visit their friends’ grave.

Indian JCB worker takes on Lakeside 5 in traditional dress of his native land

Anyone who wants to donate can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/3Peaks4Days.