It was supposed to be the fulfilment of a childhood ambition.

Ever since Andy James’ grandfather gave him a copy of the book Sir Edmund Hillary‘s ‘Nothing Venture, Nothing Win’, he’d dreamed of scaling Mount Everest for himself.

But after 16 mountain guides, known as sherpas, were killed by an avalanche Mr James’ ambitions were shattered having made it no farther than base camp.

Three weeks on and back home, the tragedy has left Mr James £50,000 poorer - but no less determined to conquer the summit again.

Mr James, 55, and formerly of Old Heath, Colchester, set off on what should have been a two-month expedition on April 1.

He was alongside an experienced climbing partner and the pair planned to conquer the summit via the South Col from Nepal.

Mr James recalled how he heard several avalanches the night before the Good Friday tragedy.

There were two which seemed to be particularly large, one around 4am and another around 6am.

Around 7.40am, as Mr James was out of his tent preparing to start ascending the mountain that day, he was told the news.

He said: “Someone rushed up and said there had been a terrible tragedy, we wouldn’t be going up the mountain today."