Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Teenage climber plunges 160ft to his death in French Alps

A British teenager who described climbing as his "demon" and his "cure" plunged 160ft to his death in the French Alps after a mix up with his equipment.

Ian Jackson, 19, died while abseiling down Les Gaillands, near Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc on Thursday afternoon.



His two friends and fellow climbers watched in horror as he plummeted from the side of the crag. He was airlifted to a hospital in Geneva but died from his injuries.



Police said there had been a "big technical mistake" involving ropes. A spokesman said: "When you abseil you must take two ropes and he only took one rope." He said the teenager had "no chance" and his fellow climbers were powerless to help. "They could do nothing because when he was falling it was too late," he added.



Mr Jackson's internet blog revealed the depth of his passion for climbing and how the hobby had transformed his life after taking it up at the age of 14.



"I was a pretty fat kid, didn't do much other than eat and play computer games," he wrote. "These last years I've lost my belly, and took climbing seriously, finding it a vent from life, and somewhere to push myself competitively. I've learnt a lot about myself, some of it good, some of it bad." He added: "Climbing is my demon, but it's also my cure."



His mother, Angela, 54, said she was aware of the dangers but would not prevent her son pursuing his ambition of becoming a top climber.



"I always worried about him when he went climbing but I never stopped him doing his dream," she said.



She added that her son was half way through a six-week climbing holiday at the end of a gap year, during which he had worked part time in the family fish and chip shop in Guisborough, North Yorkshire.



He had planned to attend Bangor University in order to be close to the Snowdonia National Park and the mountains he loved.

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