Incredible stories of survival in some of the world’s most inhospitable places
1. MIRACLE IN THE ANDES, BY NANDO PARRADO
Uruguayan Nando Parrado is one of 16 people to survive a plane crash in the Andes in October 1972 and Miracle is his account of how he and the rest of the passengers stayed alive for two months in extreme, mountainous conditions. Parrado was part of a rugby team on their way to a tournament, and his stories reveals how they broke the ultimate taboo to stay alive by eating the bodies of their dead teammates. He was also one of two survivors who hiked for almost ten days to nd help and before he left, he famously gave the others permission to eat his dead sister and mother. “I don’t want this to be seen as an epic trek of superhuman beings, because I was so afraid, so humiliated by the size of those mountains,” he once said. “I had this physical fear in my stomach. And I was thinking of me, not of saving the other guys.” Ethan Hawke played Parrado in the 1993 movie Alive, a lm Parrado described once as like a ‘ picnic’ compared to the real ordeal.
2. INTO THIN AIR: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE MT EVEREST DISASTER, BY JON KRAKAUER
Mountaineer and journalist Jon Krakauer’s account of the 1996 Mount Everest catastrophe is one of the most read, and most controversial, books about an incident in which eight climbers died on the mountain during a storm. Krakauer’s original magazine assignment was to climb to basecamp and write a piece on the commercialisation of the mountain range, but he instead spent a year training for a hike to the summit. Into Thin Air is particularly critical of the rescue attempts made by Russian climber and guide Anatoli Boukreev, who left the summit before other climbers ( to prepare for a rescue mission), and Krakaur’s questions his judgement and use of equipment in the book. Respected mountaineers such as Galen Rowell have slated these claims and Krakauer has been accused of being asleep while Boukreev was rescuing two climbers. The Russian wrote his own book, The Climb, to answer the claims made by Krakauer.
3. BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, BY ARON RALSTON
Back in April 2003, American hiker Aron Ralston had to do the unthinkable: hack off his own arm after it got caught underneath an 800lb boulder in Utah. It took Ralston six days, who had ventured out into the wilderness with hardly any food or water, to do the deed with a blunt multitool. He said the pain felt the same as slamming your nger in a car door, but continuously for six days. “The actual cutting was a different kind of pain. There are nerve endings in certain parts of your arm tissue. So when I broke the bone it hurt of course, but for me it was a happy moment because that was what was trapping me. It was the rst time I realised I would soon be free.” James Franco played Ralston in the 2010, Oscar- nominated movie adaptation 127 Hours.
4. ADRIFT: SEVENTY- SIX DAYS LOST AT SEA, BY STEVEN CALLAHAN
American naval architect and sailor Steven Callahan’s sloop ( a sailing boat with a single
mast) was caught in a storm six days out to sea from the coast of Antigua in 1982, and he was forced to abandon ship and board a six- person inf latable life raft. He managed to take enough supplies with him to last a few days ( including a sleeping bag, some food, navigation charts, a spear gun, and solar stills, which he used to make drinking water), but the remoteness of his location meant rescue took considerably longer then that. He was forced to live like, “an aquatic caveman” for 76 days and survived on a diet of mahi- mahi and triggerfish he caught with his spear gun, plus barnacles and birds. Callahan was a consultant for the 2012 movie Life Of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, and is still a keen sailor.
5. THE DAMAGE DONE: TWELVE YEARS OF HELL IN A BANGKOK PRISON, BY WARREN FELLOWS
Australian author Warren Fellows was sentenced to 12 years in Bangkok’s notorious Bang Kwang prison in 1978 on drug smuggling charges. He witnessed multiple human rights atrocities in the prison, committed both by fellow prisoners and by guards. He was tortured, had to resort to eating rats and was often kept in solitary. He tried to commit suicide several times and became an addict. Fellows makes no excuses for his punishment and has even claimed since his release that a drug smuggler becoming addicted was “poetic justice” for his crimes.
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Respected mountaineers such as Galen Rowell have slated these claims and Krakauer has been accused of being asleep while Boukreev was rescuing two climbers. The Russian wrote his own book, The Climb, to answer the claims made by Krakauer.