Skier who survived violent chair lift ride in high winds speaks out

A skier is speaking out after surviving a terrifying chair lift ride at an Italian ski resort during high wind conditions that picked up to over 60 miles per hour.

Barnaby Dunning, an experienced skier, told ABC News’ Zohreen Shah there were at least a couple of times he didn’t think he and his friend Stephanie would make it through the unsettling ordeal last Thursday in Breuil-Cervinia.

“I never even knew chair lifts could rotate the way that they were rotating,” Dunning said of being violently swung around on a chair lift at Cervino Ski Paradise.

PHOTO: Barnaby Dunning appears on 'Good Morning America' on April 1, 2024. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Barnaby Dunning appears on 'Good Morning America' on April 1, 2024. (ABC News)

Dunning said he and his friend had both noticed a major weather change while they were riding the ski lift.

“This wind had kicked up and was getting quite strong. You couldn’t really see much in front of you,” Dunning recalled.

Dunning said he thought the ski lift could take the two of them to safety but wind conditions had reached up to 70 miles per hour at the time they were on the chair lift, a ride that lasted 40 minutes.

“There were like, multiple moments of total panic and fear,” Dunning said.

“It’s literally just like you’re in a washing machine, I guess,” he added. “You’re just getting thrown around all over the place.”

PHOTO: Andy Crabtree shared a video he captured of chair lifts being violently swung around by strong winds at Cervino Ski Paradise in Italy, March 28, 2024. (Andy Crabtree via Storyful)
PHOTO: Andy Crabtree shared a video he captured of chair lifts being violently swung around by strong winds at Cervino Ski Paradise in Italy, March 28, 2024. (Andy Crabtree via Storyful)

Other ski resortgoers captured video clips of the chair lift at the resort being tossed around by the violent wind conditions.

Dunning said he and his friend were blasted repeatedly with sheets of snow and held on for life.

“Three different times, literally, my butt is hanging out and there’s nothing underneath me,” Dunning said.

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In a statement, Cervino Ski Paradise said “the weather conditions changed suddenly and unexpectedly” and lift access was “immediately closed” but there were still “users on the seats, who were taken to the station … unharmed.”

After their harrowing ordeal, Dunning said other skiers should trust their instincts if something doesn’t feel right.

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“When you’re skiing, you trust the lift operators … I felt that they just let the lift keep on going at a time when it was really far too dangerous,” Dunning said.

Dunning said he was still grateful for the lift rider operators. Despite the scary experience, he ended up returning to hit the slopes again on Friday.

Skier who survived violent chair lift ride in high winds speaks out originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com