Pro Slackliner Rescues Unconscious Man Hanging From Ski Lift by His Backpack

Absolutely terrifying. A professional slackliner came to the rescue of an unconscious skier dangling from a ski lift at a Colorado ski resort on Wednesday, January 4.

The Denver Post reports that 28-year-old Mickey Wilson was on the ski lift when a friend in front of him got entangled in his backpack while trying to unload. The 30-year-old unidentified man began to hang by his neck by his backpack, which was still attached to the chair above him.

"It was one of the most scary things I’ve ever seen, honestly," Wilson told The Denver Post. "Just seeing a person get the life sucked out of them. I kind of stopped thinking and just started acting."

"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," he added. "His feet were maybe only about 10 feet off the snow."

Wilson later posted a photo and account of the incident on Instagram. "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," he 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."

According to Wilson, his pal was rushed to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood and is now in a neck brace. The two spoke via FaceTime Wednesday night.

"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," Wilson wrote on Instagram. "I just got an update from the hospital and he's doing quite well and will be released tomorrow! #thankful #lovelife #rightplacerighttime."

Courtesy of Mickey Wilson/Instagram

Bold rescue: Slackliner saves unconscious man dangling off chairlift

A man who was unconscious while dangling from his neck on a chairlift at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Colorado was saved by a professional slackliner in a daring rescue on Wednesday.

Mickey Wilson, the slackliner, posted photos to social media showing the harrowing rescue after he climbed a lift tower, went across the lift cable and cut down the man with a knife.

“Today I saved someone’s life. I think some strange forces were at work,” Wilson wrote on Facebook.

Wilson was skiing at friends when a member of the crew got his backpack strap stuck in the chairlift as he tried to unload. 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,” Wilson wrote. “The backpack had wrapped around his neck and he was unconscious, dangling 10 feet above the snow.”

Wilson said he and his friends tried to build a human pyramid to get to him but they couldn’t.

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

Then, Wilson had what he called a “Eureka” moment.

He climbed the lift tower above the chair and onto the cable, then slid down to his friend.


Man hanging unconscious by backpack on Arapahoe Basin chairlift is cut down by friend in harrowing rescue

A man who got tangled in an Arapahoe Basin chairlift Wednesday morning and was hanging unconscious from his neck was cut down by a professional slackliner who climbed up a lift tower, slid approximately 30 feet across the lift’s cable and cut him free with a knife tossed from ski patrollers.

The harrowing rescue was recounted to The Denver Post on Thursday by the rescuer and confirmed by the resort, which says it is reviewing the incident that occurred around 11 a.m. on the Lenawee Mountain Lift. Parts of the rescue were also captured on video and in still photos.

“It was one of the most scary things I’ve ever seen, honestly,” said Mickey Wilson, as he recounted the rescue of the dangling man. “Just seeing a person get the life sucked out of them. I kind of stopped thinking and just started acting.”

Arapahoe Basin says the man who was caught in the chair was taken by ambulance to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and was then transferred to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood. The ski area declined to provide information on the man’s condition.

However, Wilson said he spoke to the man through FaceTime on Wednesday night and said that despite a neck brace he appeared to be OK.

The resort says the man was trying to unload from the three-person lift when his backpack became entangled in the chair. The man, still dangling from the chair, was swept around the bullwheel at the top of the lift and back down the mountain, at which point the operator shut down the ride.

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.”

Wilson said bystanders were yelling at him not to climb the lift’s ladder, but “I didn’t listen to them.”

“There really wasn’t much that Arapahoe Basin as a ski area could have done to prevent this,” Wilson said by phone on Thursday as he was driving up for a day of powder skiing at A-Basin. “Arapahoe Basin did an amazing job of responding to this incident.”

Wilson says he ended up on the mountain with the man by chance. He was planning to ski alone on Wednesday but ran into some pals at the base, leading to them riding together in a group.

“There is a procedure in place that we are following,” Adrienne Saia Isaac, an A-Basin spokeswoman, said of how the resort is investigating the incident.  “The lift is open to the public. It did not malfunction.”

She added: “We’re extending our best wishes to the guest for a quick recovery.”

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.

In Colorado last week, a 40-year-old Texas mother died when she and her two young girls fell about 25 feet from a chairlift at Ski Granby Ranch in Grand County. That incident remains under investigation.

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