mountain when he was trapped alone some 10 meters above ground in
temperatures of minus 18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) after
the ski lift was switched off for the day, shortly after 4 p.m. on
Saturday afternoon in the Hochzillertal resort.
He had forgotten to take his mobile phone and his shouts for help
were drowned out by the engine noise of distant snowcats. “I thought
about jumping down but then I’d have probably broken both legs and
would have frozen to death,” Podolsky told reporters.
His Last €20 Note
The hours passed and it got dark and increasingly cold. Podolsky,
who had done his military service with a mountain regiment, remembered
what his trainers had taught him about fighting off hypothermia. He
stuck his hands under his armpits and tensed his muscles, but his limbs
eventually started to go numb and he kept on falling asleep.
It was then that he thought of burning paper handkerchiefs and the
contents of his wallet with a cigarette lighter. He started with
business cards and restaurant bills and then moved on to cash. A total
of €80 to €100 ($110 to $135) had gone up in flames when he set fire to
his last €20 note. That’s when a snowcat driver spotted him and raised
Podolsky was freed half an hour later, at 10:30 p.m., and taken to
hospital where he was treated for hypothermia. He was able to take the
train home that night.
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.