Time was running out. A man had fallen from a chairlift at a Colorado resort and was suspended, unconscious, from a backpack strap around his neck. Lucky for him a friend of a friend with whom he had been skiing happened to have a rather unique hobby that likely saved his life. Micky Wilson is a world-class competitive “slackliner” (think floppy tightrope-walker – I had to look it up to be sure).
From Denver Post:
Wilson, a part-time A-Basin ski instructor, says he was on a chair behind the man. About 30 seconds after he unloaded, he realized what was happening to the man who he described as a friend of a friend.
“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, 28, said. “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 said he and a few bystanders first tried to create a human pyramid to reach the man, but the group kept tumbling down.
“That’s when I realized — it all kind of snapped together — that ‘I can climb this tower and get to him,’ ” said Wilson, a professional slackliner from Golden who competes all over the world and has won Red Bull events.
Wilson says he reached the unconscious man in about four or five minutes. Ski patrollers then arrived on scene with a ladder, but upon seeing Wilson, “perfectly tossed me the knife.”
Wilson cut down the motionless man, who fell about 10-15 feet. The drop was captured in a video, with people screaming “Cut him loose!” in the background.
Wilson said his slacklining experience made the rescue possible. “The only way I was able to get to him so fast was to climb the tower and shimmy down the line to him so fast.”
I am not completely sure why he appears to be kicking the guy in the video, my guess is he was trying to kick the backpack loose before someone tossed him the knife. Better he should have been carrying one himself.
Apparently backpacks getting caught on lifts is not uncommon.
Denver Post continues:
A similar incident happened Monday at Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, where The Associated Press reports a boy was caught on a lift by his backpack. The child kicked off his skis and threw his poles away as two lift operators propped a ladder up, with one climbing up to the chair and pulling the boy to safety, the AP says.
The boy, who was rescued in about seven minutes, was OK. It was the second time in the last three weeks that a kid had become stuck on a lift by a backpack at Sundance, according to the AP.
Stay Safe everyone.
(h/t Teton Gravity Research)