Skiers rescued from stuck German gondolas
Associated Press Writer
BERLIN – Mountain rescue teams rappelled from helicopters to help rescue dozens of people from gondolas stuck high above a southern German ski resort, lowering the stranded skiers to the ground with climbing ropes.
Scores of firefighters and mountain rescue specialists also joined the effort to bring down the 43 skiers stuck inside the 30 gondolas affected, police spokesman Harald Bauer said in nearby Bad Toelz.
A technical failure in the lift system at the alpine Brauneck resort in Bavaria triggered the automatic shutdown of the whole system, Bauer said. The rescue operation took almost three hours.
None of the skiers were injured, despite below-freezing temperatures, Bauer said. Police had initially estimated that around 60 skiers were trapped, but lowered the figure to 43 after the operation wrapped up.
“I was stuck up there for two and a half hours until the helicopter came to rescue me,” skier Peter Gutmann told The Associated Press by telephone.
He said he was trapped alone in a gondola dangling more than 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground.
“When I saw the firefighters and the helicopters, I knew it would take a while,” said the 40-year-old from Bavaria.
Gutmann said he called his girlfriend on a cell phone to reassure her, but was never worried.
“I do bungee jumping and paragliding among other things, so I wasn’t afraid,” he said.
Eventually a mountain rescue team member was lowered to his gondola from a helicopter, secured him with a rope, and brought him to the ground.
After that, it was a 20 minute walk down steep terrain before he reached a rescue vehicle and was taken back down the mountain.
“I went out to go skiing for the day. The weather was perfectly sunny with a clear blue sky. But I can forget that now,” Gutmann said.
Brauneck boasts 21 miles (34 kilometers) of slopes. The mountain’s summit is 5,102 feet (1,555 meters) high.
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