ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colorado — A professional slackliner pulled off a stunning rescue at Colorado ski resort by shimmying 30-feet down a lift cable to cut lose a man left dangling after his backpack got tangled in the chair.
The Arapahoe Basin resort says the man was trying to unload from the lift when his backpack got stuck on the chair, lifting him back up off the ground. He was then swept around the bullwheel at the top of the lift and back down the mountain.
As the operator shut down the lift, slackliner Mickey Wilson, who was in the lift right behind the dangling man, leapt into action.
“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,” he told the Denver Post. “It was one of the most scary things I’ve ever seen, honestly. I kind of stopped thinking and just started acting.”
Wilson, who competes in events all over the world focused on slacklining — which is similar to tightrope walking — said he and others attempted to create a human pyramid to reach the man, but the group couldn’t keep its footing.
“That’s when I realized — it all kind of snapped together — that ‘I can climb this tower and get to him,’ ” he said.
Wilson slid down the cable to the basket above the unconscious man and then took a knife tossed to him by the ski patrol to cut loose the man who dropped about 15 feet to bystanders below. He was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover.
Wilson said his slacklining experience made all the difference.
“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,” he said.