FUNDRAISERS are preparing to scale the heights in memory of a County Durham climber who died in a tragic accident on Boxing Day 2010.

Dave Church, of Shildon, perished after falling 80ft from a frozen waterfall while climbing on Howgill Fell, between Sedbergh and Kirby Stephen on the border between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

He was attempting to scale the frozen Cautley Spout, England's highest above ground waterfall, when an ice screw, designed to protect him in the event of a fall, gave way after he slipped.

Fellow climbers plan to honour the 54-year-old by taking part in a charity event at the Rock Antics wall, in Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre, where Mr Church worked as a part-time instructor.

The event, which takes place on Saturday, December 22, has been organised by Mr Church's former climbing partner Paul Willis.

He said it was hoped those taking part would climb the equivalent of Mount Everest – a total of 938 times up and down the wall.

“Depending on how many people come along, we could even do Everest twice,” said Mr Willis.

To give the event an added twist, the leisure centre lights will be dimmed and climbers will tackle the wall using just their head torches.

“Dave was one of the senior instructors at Rock Antics – he had been there 15 years and was very popular both with the kids and the clients,” said Mr Willis, from Toft Hill.

“Although his main job was as a driving instructor, he had planned to give that up and become an outdoor education instructor, but sadly, he died.”

Mr Willis has distributed dozens of sponsorship forms and said he was hoping for a good turn-out. “A lot of people have shown an interest and I am expecting there to be a good number of people, including some of Dave's climbing friends,” he added.

Also taking part will be members of Rock Antics' junior climbing club, while lending her support will be Mr Church's widow Corinne. The couple had been married for just three months when he fell to his death.

All money raised from the event will be donated to the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.