A SKIER from York died with his friend when they plunged down a French Alpine ravine only yards from their chalet.

Richard Christopher Ryan, 27, died from multiple injuries after he and 28-year-old Christopher Lockwood, from Leeds, fell into the ravine in the French resort of Deux Alpes, in the early hours of February 27, 2009, an inquest in York was told.

The two friends were known to have been drinking heavily throughout the night and both also had traces of the drug ecstasy in their bodies, according to post-mortem reports.

The 300-metre ravine is known to have claimed the lives of eight other people in the past 14 years.

David Liddell, the assistant deputy coroner for North Yorkshire, described the deaths as a “terrible accident” and said if the tragedy had happened in this country, he would be “asking for action to avoid thishappening again”. The short cut was unlit, according to reports from the French authorities.

Mr Ryan, an experienced skier, had gone to the resort with a group of friends and it was they who raised the alarm after the two had been missing overnight and throughout the following day.

A statement by French warrant officer Pierre Dupy, read out at the inquest, said: “It’s likely that upon returning to their accommodation they were lost and weren’t looking where they were going.

“The accident and the sudden fall was fatal. Time lapses between the events and the alarm being raised had no impact on the outcome.”

The last time the pair were seen alive they were playing pool in the early hours of the morning at Smithy’s Bar.

Their friend and fellow skier, Kevin Lamb, said the two had had dinner at their chalet, where everyone had drunk about five glasses of wine, before going out for more drinks.

The party is understood to have ended up at Smithy’s Bar, where beers were drunk alongside the strong Italian liqueur Sambuca.

He said: “At 1.30am I left to buy pizza. I don’t know if Richard and Christopher had left. We had a good night out with no arguments or fights. Next day we didn’t see them at the chalet and became worried.

“Christopher and Richard loved going out and having a drink. I have quite often seen them drunk of an evening.”

Before recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said: “The consumption of alcohol and the ingestion of illicit drugs may have played a part in the decision to take the route they did.”

He said: “There’s no evidence of anyone else being involved in the incident.”