A professional slackliner saved a man who was hanging by his neck from a chairlift at a Colorado ski resort.
A man who was unconscious and hanging by his neck from a chairlift was rescued by a professional slackliner who climbed a lift tower and shimmied across a cable before cutting free the backpack ensnared by the lift, the Denver Post reported.
Parts of the wild Wednesday rescue at the Arapahoe Basin ski area were caught on video and in photographs published by the Post.
Mickey Wilson, a 28-year-old competitive slackliner who was on a nearby chair, was credited with the rescue.
“He was not only caught, he was literally being hung by his neck by his backpack. He was hanging 3-feet, 4-feet below the chair. His feet were maybe only about 10 feet off the snow,” Wilson told the Post.
Today I saved someone’s life. I think some strange forces were at work. I planned to ski by myself today. As fate had it though, some good friends ended up recognizing me despite my ski gear, and we joined forces for an epic pow day. Again, fate intervened. One of our crew got his backpack strap stuck in the chairlift as he tried to unload and the lift dragged him back down the hill. We were on the chair lift behind so we unloaded and ran down the hill to help him when we realized the worst possible thing had happened. The backpack had wrapped around his neck and he was unconscious, dangling 10 feet above the snow. Panic set in and we struggled in vain for about a minute to build a human pyramid to get to him but the powder was too deep and we toppled over. I yelled at the lift operator asking if the lift ran in reverse and he cried no. Ski patrol was on their way but not there yet. Panic was becoming terror as we realized we were about to watch our friend die in front of our helpless eyes. Then I had a eureka moment. I realized I could climb the lift tower above the chair and climb onto the cable and shimmy down to him. I knew my slackline experience prepared me perfectly for this so I burst into action. I climbed the tower and slid down to the the chair. It was second nature, just like being on a slackline only way colder and made of steel. I climbed down the chair and I first tried to break the strap by kicking it but I couldn’t. A newly arrived ski patrolman threw me a knife and I luckily caught it on the first try and cut the strap. Our friend fell like a doll into the snow. 8 or so ski patrolman then began CPR. Thankfully they were able to restore his breathing, ski him down to the base, and get him into an ambulance which rushed him to the hospital in Denver. I’d like to take this moment now to thank the #slacklife for the skills it has given me. It was incredibly fortunate I was there and able to act quickly. I’d also like to thank ski patrol for their strong work reviving our friend. I just got an update from the hospital and he’s doing quite well and will be released tomorrow! #thankful #lovelife #rightplacerighttime
Wilson told the newspaper that he reached the man in about four or five minutes. A ski patroller tossed him a knife to cut the unconscious man down.
An Arapahoe Basin spokesperson told the Post the chairlift did not malfunction. The man’s backpack was apparently caught by the lift as he tried to get off and carried him some distance down the mountain before an operator shut it down.
The man caught by the chairlift was taken to a nearby hospital. Wilson told the Post he spoke to him on Facetime Wednesday night and he appeared to be OK.