Man Scales Ski Lift, Frees Friend Hanging By His Neck Above The Snow

The professional slackliner said his skills prepared him perfectly for this.

A professional slackliner in the right place at the right time rescued an unconscious friend hanging from a chairlift by his neck.

On Wednesday morning, the unidentified backpack-wearing friend got tangled up as he attempted to get off the lift at Colorado’s Lenawee Mountain, the Arapahoe Basin ski area said in a statement. Workers stopped the lift and dispatched ski patrol to the scene.

In the meantime, Mickey Wilson took matters into his own hands.  

Footage released Thursday by the Denver Post shows Wilson sliding about 30 feet across the chairlift cable before using a knife to cut his friend’s backpack, allowing him to drop into the snow below.

“As he tried to get off, his backpack caught, and because he was on the outside of the chairlift, he went around the emergency chairlift shutoff (trigger),” Wilson told the Post. “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, 28, is a part-time ski instructor at the resort, though he was not working at the time. He later posted about the incident on social media, crediting the heroic feat to the skills he learned slacklining — an activity similar to tightrope walking, but with a looser piece or rope or webbing.

“I’d like to take this moment now to thank the #slacklife for the skills it has given me,” he wrote on Instagram.

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

A photo posted by Mickey Wilson (@mickeywilsonslacker) on

Wilson explained that he and others originally tried to build a “human pyramid” to catch their friend, but their attempt was unsuccessful.

“Panic was becoming terror as we realized we were about to watch our friend die in front of our helpless eyes,” Wilson wrote. “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.”

Ski patrol arrived as Wilson was trying to free his friend, he said. A patrolman tossed him a knife, which he was able to use to cut his friend’s backpack strap. At that point, ski patrol members revived the man.

Wilson told the Denver Post that it seemed there was nothing that the ski area could have done to prevent the incident, and congratulated staff for “an amazing job of responding” to the situation.

Wilson’s friend was doing well, he wrote on Instagram, and would soon be released from the hospital.

HuffPost

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