By Pete Thomas
For the second time in two weeks, a young skier at a Utah resort has found himself hanging high above ground from a chairlift and in dire need of a rescue.
In both cases, straps from a backpack became stuck on lifts at Sundance Ski Resort, leading to harrowing ordeals for the boys.
The latest incident occurred Monday afternoon (see video). The boy became stuck while trying to exit a chair at an elevated drop-off point, as the chair traveled down slope.
The chair continued for a moment, then stopped about 12 feet above ground, leaving the boy to dangle motionless in what represented an eerie scene for onlookers.
“I was scared for him, and it was a scary thing for me to witness,” Clint Ashmead, who was on an adjacent chair with his two sons, told Pete Thomas Outdoors. “But the boy remained calm. He managed to kick off his skis and throw his poles to his sides, in case he fell.”
Ashmead, who videotaped the rescue, said the lift operator was quick to stop the chair before it was dangerously high. He explained that ski patrollers laid out a cushioned mat and used a ladder to reach the boy and place him back on the chair. The rescue took about six minutes.
“Two of them rode to the base of the mountain with the boy,” Ashmead said, adding that he hopes his footage will raise awareness about safety while on the slopes. Last month at Sundance, a boy was rescued after his backpack became stuck on a different lift.
The use of backpacks by skiers and snowboarders is a relatively new phenomenon, and some resorts try to discourage customers from wearing them while riding chairlifts.
Sundance officials told Fox 13 that they strongly urge guests not to wear backpacks, or to wear them in front so the straps are less likely to get caught.
Ashmead said he and his sons were not wearing backpacks on Monday, and described he incident as “a shock-and-awe” moment.