Stranded snowboarder burns cash to stay alive

Rusty chairliftHow’s this for a horror story? A solo German snowboarder was taking a ski lift down a mountain in the Hochzillertal resort area of the Austrian Alps at 4:00 PM when, while he was at 10 meters above the ground, it was shut down for the day.

Dominik Podolsky, a 22-year-old from Munich, didn’t have a mobile phone, no one could hear him yell and he was facing temperatures of 0°F. “I thought about jumping down but then I’d have probably broken both legs and would have frozen to death,” the brave young man told reporters.

As the hours dragged on and the temperature continued dropping, Podolsky tried to stave off hypothermia by tensing his muscles and keeping his hands in his armpits, but he couldn’t stay warm — and he kept falling asleep. Finally, he thought to burn the contents of his wallet with his cigarette lighter for just a little extra heat. Once the napkins, bills and business cards were gone, he had no choice but to burn cash.

He burned some 100 euros, and when he was down to his very last 20 euro note, a snowcat driver spotted him at last and sent for help. It was 10:30 PM when Podolsky was rescued and taken to the hospital for immediate hypothermia treatment. Spiegel Online reports, “He said he may sue the lift operator for failing to check the lift after shutting it down. But a spokesman for the company said it wasn’t meant for downward trips, and that Podolsky must have ignored warning signs and barriers to get on.”