A professional slackliner saved a man’s life on Wednesday at a Colorado ski resort by climbing a lift pole and shimmying 30 feet down the metal lift cable to his aid.
Mickey Wilson, 28, was on the chair behind the man, a friend of a friend, when the guy’s backpack strap got caught in the lift. The lift pulled him partway down the mountain before stopping. Things got worse when the man slid down the chair, his backpack strap entangling his neck, causing him to go unconscious while hanging out of reach of would-be rescuers on the ground.
After a tense moment, Wilson decided to climb the pole, slide down the metal cable and climb down onto the chair of the Arapahoe Basin chairlift.
This short video from the Denver Post show’s the scene:
Here’s how Wilson, who won the 2015 Red Bull Baylines slackline competition, describes his “eureka moment” while standing on the snow, feeling helpless:
“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 chair. It was second nature, just like being on a slackline only way colder and made of steel.”
Wilson climbed down onto the chair. After attempting to kick the strap free, ski patrolers threw him a knife which he used to cut the strap. The man was revived by ski patrol and then taken to a hospital.
Wilson ended his Instagram post with this gem: “I’d like to take this moment now to thank the #slacklife for the skills it has given me.”
Here’s Wilson’s heartfelt Instagram post on the rescue:
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
And here’s Wilson doing his thing on a normal day:
I had an amazing time at ggby in Moab and one of my favorite things was how many people I saw there who I met at the @urbanhighlinefestival the last two years in Poland. So I figured I'd share one of my favorite shots from the festival: the highline trickline with a net instead of a leash. #skyfall #trickline #slackline #trickymickey