A HIKER cheated death when his rucksack snagged on a tree just short of a sheer drop.
John Mallaby had already tumbled 500ft down a steep Austrian slope when his fall was broken inches from death.
The 80-year-old was left hanging in the branches of a tree for three hours before his cries for help were heard.
John, a former manager for the chemical giant ICI, said: 'My legs just gave way beneath me, the path I was on was steeper than I thought.
'I rolled down the hill like a hedgehog. I managed to stop myself at one point but realised I'd never make it back up the slope, so slipped further down.
'It was lucky I was caught by the tree as that stopped me going over the edge of the cliff.
'I was stuck there, calling for help, until an Austrian man came and rescued me.
'He pulled me in a bit and tied me to the tree. I was joking that I felt like a dog on a lead.'