A SCHOOLBOY who survived a 2,500ft plunge down a mountain in the Alps has vowed to get straight back on his skis.
Jack Fox, 14, was into the last 20 minutes of his half-term school ski trip to Flattach, near Salzburg, Austria, on Friday when his group stopped to take a photo at a rocky beauty spot.
I was in a panic, hitting rocks and ice. I didn’t think I was going to make it
When he lost his footing and couldn’t dig his feet into the snow and ice, he tumbled head over heels the equivalent of two Eiffel Towers – but escaped with only friction burns.
The Tarleton Academy pupil said: “I didn’t think I was going to make it.
“We’d taken our skis off and walked out to this little bit of a hill. I’d just taken the picture and was putting the phone back in my pocket when I slipped and started to fall forwards.
“I was on my own and there was nothing I could grab on to, so I tried to dig my feet in but it wasn’t working, then I started tumbling head-over-heels.
“I was in a panic, hitting rocks and ice, but not really thinking anything other than trying to stick my feet in what I could.
“When I eventually came to a stop I looked up and said to myself ‘have I really fallen from there?’
“I looked for broken bones but couldn’t find any, though the arms of my ski jacket had rolled up and I had burns on my arms.
“I mostly remember feeling really cold and really relieved.”
Jack was on his own at the bottom of the glacier for 10 minutes before an off-piste Austrian skier noticed him and came to his rescue.
Jack, from Crossens, Southport, said: “I saw him in the distance and started waving to him for help, but he just waved back and was about to ski off, so I shouted for help.
“He quickly came over and started trying to help getting my ski jacket back on properly, but he didn’t have a phone to call for help.
“But by that time two other skiers were coming down the mountain and they’d seen all my stuff scattered all over the ground so started to make their way over.
“They had a phones so they called an air ambulance.”
Before he was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, the skiers pointed out Jack’s helmet to him that had cracked all the way up the back.
Jack said: “Nobody in my group had taken their helmets off to take the pictures, it was too much hassle, but lots of other people had.
“I’m so lucky that I had it on – it probably saved my life.”
Terrified and unable to see what had happened to him, other children in Jack’s group and the Austrian ski instructor had scrambled to the ski lift to find trip leader Jack Snowden, resource development manager at Tarleton Academy.
Mr Snowden said: “The children were telling me that Jack had fallen over the side and the instructor told me the same thing.
“There wasn’t any hysteria, the kids were all pretty calm, but I think it was disbelief and shock.
“I didn’t know what to think, because it was a gradual slope and I didn’t know how far he’d fallen or whether he’d managed to stop himself.
“I skied down to meet the rep from the ski company, and within five, 10 minutes, word was coming through that he was fine so I didn’t really have time to panic.
“I think it was then that everyone’s emotions came out and we were all so relieved.”
Mr Snowden then rang Jack’s dad Stewart, 48, to explain what had happened.
Mr Fox, a sales manager, said: “Mr Snowden’s first words were ‘I want to assure you that Jack’s okay’.
“I wondered what had happened and asked all the usual questions. I got a bit panicky but was thinking how it could have been a lot worse.
“I knew he was in hospital being treated for concussion but waited till I knew exactly what had happened before I rang my wife Amanda at work because I didn’t want to worry her even more.”
Amanda, 42, an equestian instructor, said: “I was pretty terrified being in a different country and not being able to get to him.”
Jack flew home on Sunday separately from the rest of the group, and still hasn’t seen any of them.
He’s expected to return to school on Monday, after recovering from a ‘skin scrub’ on his wounds at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. It is unclear whether his scars will be permanent.
But none of the drama has put Jack, who has been skiing for two years, off the sport.
He said: “I haven’t been put off at all, I’m definitely going to be carrying on.”
His dad added: “It wasn’t the skiing that caused this, it was the photography! I don’t have any worries about him going back out on the slopes.”
Little brother Ryan, 13, has just started skiing and is booked to go on the same trip next year.