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Ski Gondola Nightmare: Horror Film Becomes (Sort Of) Reality

A Hollywood B-movie came close to reality for one snowboarder last week. But at least there weren't wolves.

South Lake tahoe view from above Gondola at Heavenly Mountain Resort; (photo/Shutterstock)
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One unlucky snowboarder ended up stranded overnight on a ski resort’s gondola last week near South Lake Tahoe in California.

Monica Laso boarded a gondola at Heavenly Ski Resort at about 4:58 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, after deciding she was too tired to continue down the slopes. A resort worker had directed her to a gondola to download, but 2 minutes after getting on, the lift stopped moving, leaving her stranded. The Heavenly Gondola, which riders board at either the base or top, ascends over 2,800 feet.

It wasn’t until Friday morning — 15 hours later — that Laso was rescued by resort employees returning to work, local news station KCRA 3 reported. Laso spent the night fighting the cold by rubbing her hands and feet.

“I screamed desperately until I lost my voice,” Laso said in an interview through a translator. “I didn’t have a phone, a light or anything.”

Laso’s friends reported her missing after realizing they couldn’t contact her, according to KCRA.

Stuck on Ski Lift: Horror Film in Reality

Fortunately, the 2010 B-movie “Frozen,” in which a group of skiers is stuck on a chairlift over a weekend to (spoiler) eventually be attacked by wolves, is ridiculous. Most real-world incidents have a much happier ending. But in rare instances such as this, skiers certainly have spent long hours on lifts.

In 2016, dozens of tourists were trapped in a gondola overnight while traveling over the Mont Blanc Massif.

In 2018, a man claimed to be stuck on a chairlift at Gore Mountain Ski Center. That story turned out to be a fabrication, and the skier in question, Isaac Hyde, was found guilty of providing a false statement to police.

When Laso was discovered, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office asked for help from South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, fire and rescue spokesperson Marshal Kim George told CNN. Laso was treated and released, apparently without serious injuries.

“She was assessed and refused transport [but] we always recommend transport with every patient,” George said.

In a statement shared with GearJunkie, Heavenly Mountain Resort said it’s investigating the incident.

“The safety and wellbeing of our guests is our top priority at Heavenly Mountain Resort,” said Tom Fortune, VP and COO of Heavenly Mountain Resort and the Tahoe Region. “We are investigating this situation with the utmost seriousness.”

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