TRIBUTES have been paid to an athletic Matlock teenager who lost his life while climbing England’s highest peak.
Lee Jones died after scaling Scafell Pike in Cumbria on Friday and his body was recovered the next day following a search involving a helicopter and sniffer dogs.
The popular 19-year-old, who enjoyed running and mountain climbing, became separated from a friend because of snowfall.
A statement from his devastated family said: “Lee was an independent adventurous young man who enjoyed sport and the outdoors.
“He was visiting the Lake District with a friend between Christmas and New Year and had successfully climbed Scafell Pike before the accident that took his life.
“He was experienced outdoors and was doing something he enjoyed when he died.
“He was a fine man and will be deeply missed by his family, girlfriend and friends.”
Lee had attended Darley Dale Primary and Highfields School, and was working as a stove fitter for Matlock-based company Blood Brothers alongside childhood school friend, Tom Blood.
Tom, 19, said: “He wasn’t only my best friend we also worked along side each other at Blood Brothers on Dale Road.
“He was the hardest working lad around, who really cared about others. There was no task big enough and he loved a challenge.”
Another pal, Josh Moody, played football with Lee at Matlock Devils when they were younger, and were running mates at Matlock Athletics Club, travelling together and competing in championships in Ireland and Italy. Although not as close as they were during their sporting days, they remained friends and even enjoyed a night out in Chesterfield just last week.
Josh, 20, said: “He was a fantastic runner and we were together at the running club for a good three years.
“As a person he was as outgoing as can be, a larger than life character.
“In everyone’s eyes there was nothing he couldn’t do.
“I was getting ready to go out for New Year’s Eve when I heard the news- I was just in complete shock.
“My thought are with his family and girlfriend at this time.”
Matlock Athletic Club secretary, Karl Webster said: “He was a really nice lad who will be missed by many.”
Police confirmed that Lee had been camping with his friend near to the Lake District mountain, which stands at 978 metres high. They had set off climbing around 11.30am on Friday, but got into difficulty near the summit at about 3pm when the friends were separated by wintry conditions.
A rescue team mounted a search but were forced to call it off that night because of the weather. It resumed the next day and at 11.45am his body was found.
Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and it was confirmed that both climbers were properly equipped.