Under pressure, humans manage to do the impossible to survive. The human survival instinct drives them to live the harshest of conditions. Whether it’s the relentless ice, the empty desert, isolated islands, even in space, people still impressive find ways to beat nature and come out on top. We are going to share with you in this list the most amazing top 10 survival stories that will blow you away.
10- Apollo 13
On April 11, 1970, NASA launched the Apollo 13 mission to send three astronauts to the moon. Little did they know their story would become one of the most memorable events in the history of spaceflight. James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise were due to be the third manned mission to land on the moon.
However, 56 hours into the flight, oxygen tank 2 exploded. Disabling the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water. The astronauts were forced into the lunar module to use it as a lifeboat, which was meant to last for 48 hours for 2 persons. The LM didn’t have enough carbon dioxide scrubbing chemical canisters to keep the air breathable all the way back to Earth. They had to build a crude adapter using spare parts on board, to make use of canisters meant for the command module. The crew who went on one-fifth water rations and would later endure cabin temperatures that hovered a few degrees above freezing
On April 14, Apollo 13 swung around the moon. And on April 17, a last-minute navigational correction was made, this time using Earth as an alignment guide. Just before 1 p.m., the spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere and the astronauts splashed down safely into the Pacific Ocean.
9- Aron Ralston
On 26 April, 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking alone through Blue John Canyon in eastern Wayne County, Utah, when a boulder dislodged and trapped his right forearm as he was descending a narrow slot.
Having not told anyone his whereabouts, Aron assumed he’d die. He spent the next five days slowly drinking water, eventually resorting to drinking his own urine when his water supply ran out. He made several attempts to breaking the boulder but didn’t succeed. Early on, he realized he’d have to amputate his arm. And after experimenting with tourniquets and shallow cuts to his arm, he knew, on the fourth day, that he’d have to cut through bone, though he didn’t have the tools to do it. By the fifth day, Aron carved out his name, date of birth and presumed death on the canyon wall and videotaped his goodbyes to his family. On the following day, his arm began to decompose due to lack of circulation.
Ralston had an epiphany. He could feel his bone bend and realized he could use the boulder to break it. He managed to do so, and proceeded in the duration of one hour to amputate his arm with his multitool.
Delirious and dehydrated, Aron climbed out of the canyon slot, rappelling down a 60ft sheer walk, and marched out of the canyon. A family of three who were on vacation found him. They gave him food and brought him to the emergency room.
Later, Aron speculated that if he’d amputated his arm earlier, he’d have bled out. His amputated arm was found and returned to him. It was cremated and scattered in the accident scene.
Aron Ralston’s grueling tale is told in the movie 127 Hours, starring James Franco.
8- Juliane Koepcke
17 years old Juliane survived a two miles fall into the rainforest on Christmas eve, 1971. She was the sole survivor of her flight, a passenger plane headed to Pucallpa. Everything was fine until the airplane was struck by a bolt of lightning. The plane nosedived and crashed into the Amazon rainforest.
Koepcke free-fell, strapped to her seat and woke up the next day, alone. She wore one shoe-the other half of her sandals was lost-and a mini dress. She had a broken collarbone, some deep cuts, and a concussion.
Having spent two years with her parents on their research station, Juliane had learned a lot about surviving in the rainforest, and she used that knowledge to her advantage. Julian was also short sighted.
There were snakes camouflaged as dry leaves. She only had a bag of candy which soon ran out. She walked in the water, knowing it was safer. It was very hot during the day and cold in the night and it rained several times a day.
By the tenth day of her ordeal, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she found a boat by a gravel bank and a trail leading to shelter. She had a wound on her arm infested with maggots, which she treated by pouring gasoline on. The next day, three men came out of the forest. She spoke to them in Spanish and explained what happened. They treated her wounds, gave her something to eat, and took her back to civilization.
She later discovered her mother had survived the initial crash but passed several days after. Koepcke now works as a librarian in the Bavarian State Zoological Collection in Munich. “I Fell From The Sky”, her autobiography was released on March 10, 2011 and has won the Corine Literature Prize.
7- Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
In the Peruvian Andes, 1985, 25 years old Joe Simpson and his 21 years old climbing partner Simon Yates succeeded the hard feat of climbing the 6344 metre peak Siula Grande. On their descent, Simpson broke his leg, leading them to believe it was a death sentence.
Dangling in the air by a rope connected to Yates, Yates attempted to lower his climbing partner down the mountain slope for hours on end. At some point, the rope ran out, leaving Simpson helplessly suspended without communication between the two. Yates held up the full weight of Simpson, unsure if his friend was alive or dead.
All the while, the rope dragged Yates and he had to make the decision to save his own life and cut down the rope, severing the link that held up Simpson.
Simpson thought “This is it.” and that he was done for. But miraculously, he survived the fall and landed in a cavern of snow. With a broken leg, unsustained by food, and in agony, Simpson spent the next four days crawling back to camp.
He arrived a few hours before Yates was supposed to leave. They both survived the ordeal.
Now, Simpson is the author of “Touching the Void”, published in 1988, depicting his and Yates’ nearly fatal climb.
6- Harrison Okene
The sole survivor of the Jascon 4, Harrison Okene was the cook in a crew consisting of 12 members. He was in the bathroom when the boat capsized. The Jascon 4 was upside down in a depth about 100 feet with eleven of its crew dead.
Trapped in an air pocket with only one bottle of coke and two flashlights he’d founded, Okene survived for 60 hours, praying to God. He described his surroundings black and noisy as the boat began to sink. He was aware of loud sounds as marine life fought over what he thought was the corpses of his crewmates.
Almost three days later, a team was sent to recover the bodies and remains of the men. Okene heard a hammering sound from afar. He jumped in the freezing water and tried to gain the diver’s attention. He touched the back of his head and waved his hands in front of the camera.
The diver shouted into the speak that he’d found a survivor. They put a diving helmet and a harness onto him. They used hot water to warm him up and attached an oxygen mask to him. Okene had to remain in a decompression chamber for 60 hours before he could return to the surface.
Some Nigerians believe he’d saved himself using black magic. Now, Okene has sworn never to return to the sea and has taken the job as a cook on land and suffers from nightmares and survivor’ guilt.
5- Ada Blackjack
To provide for her sick son, Ada Blackjack went on an expedition heading for Wrangler Island. She set out as the seamstress and cook with a team of four members:, Allan Crawford, 20, Lorne Knight, 28, Fred Maurer, 28, and Milton Galle, 19 to claim Wrangel Island for the British Empire, funded by the Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson.
They were supposed to be picked up after a year, but the Teddy Bear, which was the ship meant for the trip had been forced to turn back due to impenetrable ice. They realized their supplies weren’t going to last for another year. By 1923, one of the men, Lorne Knight grew ill and the rest of the team decided to leave him in the care of Blackjack and set out to find help. Only they never returned.
Ada cared for Knight for six months, taking on the difficult role of four men. She acted as a huntsman, gathering wood, hunting for food, and caring for him. All the while, Knight projected his anger onto her.
Knight died on 23 June, leaving Blackjack stranded alone on the island. Blackjack left his body on his bed inside his sleeping bag and put up a barricade of boxes to protect his body from wild animals.
Blackjack also built a gun rack above her bed so that she would not be caught by surprise if polar bears ventured too close to camp, learned how to set traps to lure white foxes, taught herself to shoot birds, built a platform above her shelter so that she could spot polar bears in the distance, and crafted a skin boat from driftwood.
After nearly two years from her arrival, the ship Donaldson rescued her. She reunited with her son and went to spend life in poverty after receiving harsh backlash against her for not caring better for Knight.
4- Hugh Glass
Hugh Glass was an American frontiersman and fur trapper. In 1823, Glass joined a fur-trading expedition that had begun a year earlier backed by William Henry Ashley. In late August, Glass, who was hunting ahead, separated from the group, encountered a grizzly bear and her two cubs. He was severely mauled but survived the attack. He reportedly had a broken leg, a ripped scalp, and a punctured throat. After two days of carrying him on a litter, he was left under the care of two men, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, who would receive a bonus, to give him a proper burial.
The only signs that Glass was alive were his eye movements and breathing. Five days later, as they neared discovery by the Indians, Fitzgerald and Bridger left Glass in a shallow grave, taking his weapons (gun, knife, tomahawk and fire making kit).
Glass later mustered the strength to survive the trip to Fort Kiowa, driven by the thought of revenge of the men who left him. He survived on foraging what he could, even stumbling upon wolves tearing into a buffalo calf and eating the rest when they were done.
Some 200-300 miles and two months later, Glass made it back to Fort Kiowa and set out to reportedly exact revenge. Some say Fitzgerald had joined the army, sparing him from retaliation from Glass.
Glass resumed trapping. Eventually, in 1833, Glass was attacked and killed after a confrontation with the Indians.
3- Loïc Pillois and Guilhem Nayral
On a 60 miles trek to Saul, 34 Loic Pillois and Guilhem Nayral got lost in the French Guyana, a French overseas department bordering Brazil and Venezuela. Once they realized they were lost, they built a shelter and remained put for three weeks, lighting fires, hoping they’d attract attention. The forest’s thick canopy prevented helicopters from viewing them.
For three weeks they walked three hours a day until Mr Pillois reached Saul. He’d previously heard a plane and thought they were mere days away from it. On Thursday morning, Mr Pillois reached the village and told them where to find his friend.
Martin Andre, from the gendarmerie of Cayenne, says they found Mr Nayral on the ground, completely out of breath, emaciated and dehydrated. His brother, Gilles, described him as almost unrecognizable.
Both men were infested with parasites, including worms that burrow in their skin. After swallowing venom from a poorly cooked spider, Mr Nayral had trouble speaking and moving. He was also covered with bites from an itchy tropical flea called “Poux D’agoutis”.
Mr Nayral remained in the hospital for several days to recover. Mr Pillois’s wife Angélique said she had never given up hope of finding her husband.
2- Ernest Shackleton
On August, 1914, the plan was that they would cross the treacherous Weddell Sea and land at Vahsel Bay. The Weddell Sea was known for its crushing ice. 28 men, including Ernest Shackleton, boarded the Endurance.
By January, 1915, the ice was too treacherous to move through and the Endurance was stuck. Shackleton announced they’d spend the winter on ice. When the ship began to crack after, Shackleton ordered his men to set up camp using the remains of the ship and for the four weakest sled dog pups and the carpenter’s cat Mrs. Chippy to be shot.
The crew built camp on ice until the ship finally sank on November 21. They settled for a three months stay. The rest of the dogs were eaten and by April, the floe they were surviving on began to break and they were forced onto three lifeboats. They arrived a week later on Elephant island, the first land they’d seen in 497 days. From there, Shackleton set out on one of the lifeboats with five men and month’s worth of provinces while the rest of the crew stayed behind and made shelter out of the two remaining rafts.
On May 20, they at last reached civilization. And on Aug. 30, 1916, the last of the men were rescued and safe.
1- The Robertson Family
On January 1971, the Robertson family plus a hitchhiker called Robin Williams left the port from Falmouth in a 43 ft schooner called the Lucette. For the next year and half, the family sailed across the Atlantic. 17 months into their voyage, they were struck by a pod of killer pods. Their boat sank and they were forced to scramble on board an inflatable life raft meant for 10 people.
Dougal Robertson thought they’d sail to to the center of the Pacific and catch the current back to America. They had cans of water and rations, including dried break, biscuits, onions, and fruit-enough to survive for six days. They caught rainwater in containers and hunted turtles and fish and resorted to drinking turtle blood when water ran out. Also they rubbed turtle oil on their skin to keep warm and treat sores. The mother, Lyn, who was a nurse, insisted they take the water through enemas using tubes, knowing it would be poisonous if taken orally.
After 16 days, the raft became unstable and they took turns sitting in the dry part of the boat.
A Japanese trawler, the Toka Maru II, spotted their distress flare on 23 July, 1972 after 38 days in their ordeal.