For most of us, being stranded in the wilderness is something that we only hear about or see in movies. It’s one of those things that we never believe will happen to us. We’re too prepared, too cautious, and too smart to let anything like that happen. However, it’s never really your choice. The weather can change in an instant, or a freak accident might leave you injured. For some people, the unthinkable has happened to them, yet against all odds, they’ve come out alive. These are some of the most incredible survival stories from people who were put into a survival situation and fought tooth and nail to be able to talk about it today.
Could you mutilate yourself to stay alive? One man found out whether he could.
Couples Hike Gone Wrong
Photo Credits: Daily Mail
In 2017, young couple Liang Sheng Yueh (21) and his girlfriend Liu Chen Chun (19) were hiking in Nepal when the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. The two could no longer see where they were going and ended up falling into a ravine where they managed to find a cave. Here, they were stranded for seven weeks in which they ran out of food and water, causing Liu to eventually pass away. Liang managed to survive by sleeping most of the time and eating the snow around him and the salt that they had leftover from their food. They were discovered by a helicopter because of the vultures circling their bodies. By the end, Liang had lost 66 pounds and had maggots eating away at his right leg.
Lost In The Siberian Wilderness
Photo Credits: Listverse
The Siberian wilderness is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. So, when Aleksandr Kovalev disappeared from his work in the Siberian village of Beregovoy, people were concerned. His truck was later found on the edge of the taiga forest with a full tank of gas, with his glasses left inside. He was missing for two weeks until he finally wandered out of the forest where he found a road. Not only did he survive without food or water, but also bears, wolves, tigers, and not to mention the cold. He had frostbite all over his body and has a hard time talking about the experience because he a so traumatized. It’s still unclear why he went into the forest in the first place.
Aston Ralston’s Story
On April 26, 2003, Aaron Ralston was hiking through Blue John Canyo, in Eastern Utah. He was descending a slot canyon when a boulder dislodged and smashed his right hand against the canyon wall, pinning him to the wall. He had limited supplies and had not told anyone where he was going. He spent five days pinned against the wall of the canyon, rationing his supplies and saying his goodbyes with the video camera that he had brought with him. After discovering that his arm was decomposing, he made the decision to snap the bones in his arm, and proceed to amputate it using a two-inch pocket knife that he had. After freeing himself, he was discovered by a family and was rescued while on the verge of death. He still climbs and mountaineers today. The film 127 Hours is based on his experience.
Lost 17 Days In The Australian Bush
Photo Credits: Daily Mail
Shannon Leah Fischer from Queensland, Australia was at a swimming hole with a friend in September 2014. After having an argument with her fiance, she decided to go for a walk alone in order to calm down. She then got lost not long after starting off and was lost a full 17 days until she found her way back. She came back almost exactly where she had first become lost and was almost completely naked except for a fertilizer bag. When she was found by a farmer named Brad Finch, she had lost 35 pounds, her leg was badly injured, and she was sunburned to the point of almost bleeding. She had survived by eating bugs and drinking water from a stream after wandering up into the mountains, the opposite direction of where the search party was looking.
Find out about the rugby team that had to resort to cannibalism.
Andes Palen Crash
Photo Credits: Daily Mail
In 1972 a plane full of rugby players, along with their friends and families, was headed to Chile for a match when their plane crashed into the snowy Andes Mountains. Of the original 45 on the flight, only 27 had survived the crash. After a few days, others were killed by an avalanche or had died of natural causes. Due to a lack of food and energy, the remaining group was forced to resort to cannibalism of the deceased in order to survive. Their entire ordeal lasted 72 days, and only 16 people were left alive at the end to tell the story. The film Alive was inspired by the horrific circumstance.
Over A Year At Sea
In January 2014, a group of coconut farmers stumbled upon a man named José Salvador Alvarenga on the deserted Ebon Atoll shore, a part of the Marshall Islands. Having been blown off course during a fishing trip in Mexico, he was adrift on the Pacific Ocean for 13 months in a seven-meter boat. He had traveled over 5,000 miles until he finally reached land by eating fish, birds, turtles, and drinking urine, rainwater, and bird blood. He is the first person in recorded history to have ever survived in a small boat on the open ocean for more than a year.
Robert Bogucki Went On A Spirit Quest
Photo Credits: Every Day Is Special
In early July 1999, 23-year-old American Robert Bogucki from Alaska went on a trip in order to explore the Great Sandy Desert in Australia on his bicycle. He became stranded and it was discovered that he was missing until the end of July when his abandoned bike was found. After the official search was called off at the end of August, a group of Americans led by Vietnam veteran Garrison St. Clair led a search of their own which gained news attention. He was then spotted by a helicopter after surviving for 40 days of drinking groundwater and eating plants. As it turns out, he disappeared on a spirit quest as sorts, purposefully leaving his supplies behind. Yet, if he wasn’t discovered, he would have likely died.
Ricky Megee picked up a hitchhiker and woke up alone in the middle of the desert.
Ricky Megee Was Only Trying To Help
Photo Credits: Survival Life
Ricky Megee was driving across Australia to start a new job. As he was traveling along the Buntine highway between the Northern Territory and Western Australia he picked up a hitchhiker who looked like they needed help. The next thing he knew, he woke up in the middle of the desert with nothing and having been left for dead. he then spent the next two months surviving in the harsh wilderness by eating frogs, leeches, lizards, snakes… anything he could get his hands on. He drank his own urine, and almost died from malnutrition and exposure. Before he was stranded he weighed 230 pounds and when he was discovered by a farmer he only weighed 105.
Juliane Koepcke’s Battle With The Jungle
Photo Credits: Disciples of Flight
On Christmas Eve of 1971, Juliane Koepcke’s passenger plane was suddenly struck by lightning and did a nosedive into the Amazon jungle. Of the 92 passengers that were on board, she was the only survivor of the initial crash, and that was just the beginning. She escaped the plane crash with a concussion, broken collar-bone, and lacerations of her legs and arms. She then spent the next nine days in the Amazonian jungle without her glasses and wearing nothing but a minidress. She eventually found a boat and waited next to it where she was later found.
Andrew Gaskell Had A Trip That Was Too Authentic
Photo Credits: ABC
25-year-old Australian engineer Andrew Gaskell, from Tasmania, decided to take an ambitious trip to Malaysia in October of 2016. His plan was to solo hike in Mulu National Park away from popular tourist attractions in order to have an authentic trip and to figure out some personal things during his time alone. While hiking in the mountains, he became lost and was stranded by himself for two weeks. When he was discovered, he was malnourished, dehydrated, and covered in leeches. Upon rescue, he released a public apology to the public for all the effort people underwent to find him when he should have heeded the advice of locals and the signs he blatantly ignored.
This toddler survived the impossible.
The Curious Case Of Keith Parkins
In 1952, two-year-old Keith Parkins went missing from his grandfather’s ranch in Ritter, Oregon. Luckily, after an entire day and night of searching he was found alive, but unconscious, lying facedown in the snow. He was discovered eight miles away from his family’s ranch with his clothing ripped and his jacket removed. They made a Missing 411 documentary about his disappearance where they figured out that it would have taken little Keith 19 hours of straight walking to get to where he was discovered. Many people then find this hard to believe and that he might have been abducted. Keith was interviewed in the documentary but doesn’t remember many of the details of the incident.
The Story That Inspired The Film Jungle
Photo Credits: From the Grapevine
Accompanied by three other men, Yossi Ginsberg went into the Amazon jungle in search of an indigenous tribe. Eventually, the group split up into pairs and Ginsberg and the man he was with, named Kevin, took a raft down the river. However, the two became separated while on the river and Ginsberg ended up going over a waterfall. After surviving the fall, for 19 days he survived in the jungle. He fought off a jaguar with a jerry-rigged flamethrower, his body was eaten alive by termites and other insects, and he almost drowned in a bog. He survived by eating fruit and raw eggs and was eventually found by Kevin and a search team. Unfortunately, the other two men were never found. The recent film Jungle is based on the story of his survival.
Edward Rosenthal Wrote His Goodbyes On His Hat Before He Was Rescued
Photo Credits: Backpacker Magazine
In 2010, 64-year-old Edward Rosenthal had set out in Joshua Tree National Park for a solo day hike. While returning to his car at the beginning of the trail, he accidentally took a wrong turn and found himself completely lost. He was stuck in the scorching Joshua Tree desert for six days and walked a total of 24 miles trying to find his way back. He eventually found a small canyon where he sat down, only moving to stay shaded, writing his goodbyes on the bill of his hat. Luckily, a helicopter flew over and saw him and he was rescued.
Caught In A Blizzard
Photo Credits: Los Angeles Times
Eric Le Marque was a member of France’s Olympic hockey team. He was also an avid snowboarder and visited Mammoth Mountain, California in 2004, where he was caught in a blizzard and lost his way. He couldn’t find his way back down the mountain before dark, and in the morning, he realized he was more lost than he originally thought. He relied on pine nuts and tree bark for food and drank melted snow and river water. He also used his snowboard to build igloos for shelter and an MP3 player as a type of a compass when he found a radio signal. He was discovered after eight days, but his legs had to be amputated due to frostbite.
Imagine survival without your glasses.
Lisa Theris Was Lost Without Her Glasses For 28 Days
Photo Credits: ABC News
In the summer of 2017, 25-year-old Lisa Theris was hanging out with two men when she suddenly woke up naked, without her glasses, and alone in the Alabama woods. She was considered legally blind without her glasses and ended up being missing for a total of 28 days. She had lost approximately 40 pounds. She survived by eating mushrooms, berries, and drinking any water she could, and using a walking stick to guide herself through the forest. She was eventually found on the side of the road, with her body covered in bug bites, scratches, and poison ivy. She was immediately rushed to the hospital where she made a full recovery.
Lost At Sea
Photo Credits: Shoulders of Giants
In 1981, Steven Callahan departed from Newport, Rhode Island, on a ship that he designed and built himself. At one point during his voyage, his boat sank after a collision with something that he believed to be a whale. He bailed his boat and onto his life raft with meager supplies. Adrift at sea, he managed to survive for 76 days. During his ordeal, he faced problems with sharks, sunburn, dehydration, starvation, and all around mental anguish. He caught rain for water, speared fish and caught birds for food. Eventually, he was discovered by a fisherman after keeping his raft afloat for 33 days after it got a hole.
Always Bring Your Phone
Photo Credits: The Telegraph
In 2009, Jamie Neale was taking a gap year before starting college and he wanted to do some traveling. Eventually, he ended up in the Blue Mountains in New South Whales. Here, he only expected to do a brief hike on some walking trails and left his cell phone behind. He became lost for 12 days and continually had to watch helicopters fly above him without any of them ever actually seeing him, which was pure torture. Finally, he was discovered by two other hikers who aided him in getting to the hospital as soon as possible. Although his parents were furious at him for not bringing his cell phone, they noted in an interview with The Guardianthat they were just happy he was okay more than anything.
What if getting caught in an avalanche wasn’t the worst part?
The Avalanche Was Just The Beginning
Photo Credits: Alaska Mountaineering School
In 1992, Colby Coombs and his friends two friends were climbing Mt. Foraker, a 17,240-foot mountain in Alaska. During their ascent, they were caught in an avalanche and buried inside after being taken 800 feet off of the side of the mountain. Coombs was the only one of his friends to survive. But it wasn’t over yet. Coombs had suffered a concussion, a fractured ankle, two fractured vertebrae in his neck, and a broken shoulder. He then spent the next six days descending the mountain and walking five miles across a glacier until he finally reached his camp. Surprisingly, he still climbs today.
Tami Oldham Ashcraft Conquered The Sea
Tami Ashcraft and her boyfriend Richard Sharp were sailing from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983. They were in a 44-foot sailboat, but that didn’t save them when they were hit by a category 4 hurricane. They were battling with 50-foot waves and over 100 miles per hour winds when the boat was capsized and Ashcraft was knocked unconscious below deck. When she awoke, her boyfriend was gone, and she was alone and adrift in the ocean. Relying on celestial navigation, she managed to plot a course to Hawaii — which was around 1,500 miles away. She then made a mast and sail, rationed her food, and managed to make it there in 41 days.
In 1992, Michael Benson and his colleague Chris Duddy were shooting aerial footage of Hawaii when their helicopter crashed over Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. The cameraman and pilot, named Craig Hosking, crashed into the volcano crater but luckily missed the pit of lava at the bottom. The two managed to escape the volcano within a day but couldn’t find Benson anywhere. Benson then spent the next two days and nights on a ledge inside of the crater listening to the active lava beneath him. He was rescued by another helicopter once they learned his location. Although he’s lucky to have survived, his lungs were damaged due to the gases inside of the crater.