The investigation into the death of a climber whose body lay on an Italian mountainside for more than 17 years before its discovery has finally been concluded.

Chelmsford Coroner's Court heard how in February 1989 geologist Michael Seavers, 30, of Rainsford Road, went on a skiing trip with friends William Ogburn, 32, from Devizes, and Leslie Byron, 29, from Marlborough,to the French Alps.

The trip was not successful so the friends decided to go mountain climbing in Italy instead. They travelled by cable car to the alpine peak La Tour Ronde on February 23 where they met up with German man Dirk Ziolwske, 24.

What happened to the four climbers next is unclear but at some point they became separated into two groups of two, and it is believed the weather must have turned against them as they left their climbing ropes on the mountain side.

The hearing on Thursday was also told that there may have been an avalanche.

Mr Seavers body, which the inquest heard was found in a mummified state', was discovered in August.

The cause of death was unascertainable. Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recor-ded a verdict that Mr Seavers had died as a result of an accident.

Mr Seavers's family described him as one of a kind.

His mother, Pauline, said: "Although it was 17-and-a-half years ago that he went missing he has never been far from our thoughts - it becomes part of your life."