The families of two neighbours killed in an avalanche in the French Alps have said they are "devastated" by the deaths.

Steve Barber, 47, and John Taylor, 48, lived in the same street in Upper Poppleton, a village to the north-west of York, and both had children at Poppleton Ousebank School. They had been making their climb in aid of a local hospice, St Leonard's in York.

The third British man who lost his life after being hit by a massive wall of snow on Thursday was Roger Payne, one of the UK's most respected climbers and former general secretary of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

A total of nine climbers were killed as they traversed Mont Maudit - translated as Cursed Mountain - in the Mont Blanc range near Chamonix in the early hours of the morning. Among the other victims were three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss climber.

The York-based pair were good friends who shared a love of climbing, their partners said. Mr Taylor, 48, originally from Manchester, moved to Upper Poppleton in 2003. As well as his wife Karine he leaves daughters Emma, 10, and eight-year-old Louise.

Mrs Taylor said her husband had climbed Mont Blanc twice previously.

She said: "We are all truly devastated about this loss. John always had a keen interest in outdoor activities taking up mountaineering in 1998 and was a highly regarded and very active member of mountain rescue teams himself.

"John had climbed several challenging mountains across the world, including Mont Blanc on two previous occasions. He was a highly respected climber and this event represents a significant loss to the UK climbing community."

Mr Barber, 47, was attempting to climb Mont Blanc for the first time. He leaves partner Donna Rogers, his parents, sister Julie and 10-year-old daughter Francesca.

Ms Rogers said: "As might be expected, the family and I are all devastated at the loss of Steve and his close friend John. Steve, like John, loved the outdoors and was a keen walker. He always wanted to climb Mont Blanc, an ambition that this trip was to fulfil."