An unidentified skier is lucky to be alive after a professional slackliner sprung into action Wednesday at the Arapahoe Basin ski resort in Colorado to free the skier from his backpack, which had gotten tangled in a chairlift and strangled the skier until he became unconscious:
On Wednesday, Mickey Wilson, a Golden, Colorado-based professional slackliner and part-time ski instructor at Arapahoe Basin was enjoying a powder day alone on the mountain when he recognized a group of friends who asked him to ski with them.
Everything was going well until one member of the crew — who Wilson described as a “friend of a friend” to the Denver Post — got his backpack stuck while trying to exit the chairlift. That’s when things took a drastic turn.
“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),” the 28-year-old 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.”
In an Instagram post describing the event, Wilson said the unidentified skier lost consciousness from being strangled, and that Wilson’s group of friends started to panic after lift operators told him they couldn’t run the lift in reverse.
After trying and failing to build a human pyramid to get to the dangling skier, Wilson wrote on Instagram that quick thinking and his training as a slackliner allowed him to rescue the man.
“Panic was becoming terror as we realized we were about to watch our friend die in front of our helpless eyes,” Wilson wrote online. “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.”
Wilson used a knife tossed to him by ski patrol to cut down the skier and effectively save his life. The skier was transferred to a hospital and — while Arapahoe Basin wouldn’t comment on his condition — Wilson told the Denver Post the man was alright.
This rescue comes just two days after a young boy had to be rescued after his backpack tangled on a chairlift at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah.
As a reminder, many ski resorts ask skiers and snowboarders not to ride with backpacks on.