Stranded snowboarder burns cash to stay alive

How’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.”

1 dead, 3 hurt in Swiss ski lift accident

I’m scared of heights, and not afraid to admit it. To be fair, it’s not all heights that worry me; planes, for instance, do me no harm. But even the thought of particular situations make me a bit queasy. Hot air balloons, for instance, are the worst. A thin piece of fabric, a wicker basket, flames? No thanks. Another worrisome device that makes me nervous is the ski lift. Case in point:

Recently, near the Alpine Ski Resort in Grindelwald, Switzerland, one person was killed, and three injured when something terrible happened on a ski lift. The report is light on details, but you can let your mind wander with the horrors that come with someone dying on a ski lift. “Mountain rescue officials said other passengers on the chairlift had to be evacuated from the ground as high winds made the use of helicopters too dangerous.”

I’m sure more and more details will surface over the next few days. Until then, here are three tips for ski lift safety, from yours truly:

  1. Don’t get on a ski lift.
  2. Never go skiing. Ever.
  3. Why are you even leaving the house? It’s much safer inside…