5 of the Greatest Wilderness Survival Stories in History

Dolomites

Human beings are capable of incredible things, especially when under the pressures to survive. Eating leeches? Building Ice caves? Cutting off your own toes? Read on, my survival enthused friends.

Ricky MeGee
The last place on earth you would want to wake up alone is in the Australian Outback. Well, it became reality for one man after he claimed he was left for dead in the infamous desert with no clue of how he got there in the first place.

On January 24, 2006 Ricky Megee was cruising down an isolated road when he believes his car was high jacked by three aboriginal men who then drugged and dumped his body in the middle of the outback. He woke up unaware and confused to dingos’ scratching at him in his shallow grave. And so began Megee’s 70 day struggle to make it out alive.

Surviving on a diet of frogs, leeches, lizards, and cockroaches, Megee found a dam and was able to stay well hydrated until he was found by “jackaroos” or farm hands on April 6. By then, he was a walking skeleton and deeply tanned from the extreme desert sun, but he was alive. MeGee’s car and the mysterious aboriginal men were never found.

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
It was a beautiful day for climbing in 1985, as Joe Simpson and Simon Yates attempted to ascend the then unclimbed west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.

Siula Grande

But the challenging trip quickly took a bone crunching turn.

Simpson broke his leg during the ascent, putting Yates in the position to get them both down to safety in the frigid temperatures. Matters continued to get worse as a storm hit making visibility difficult and the ascent even more dangerous. Badly frostbitten and and unsure if Simpson was alive or dead, Yates found himself in a desperate situation and he cut the rope.

Well, turns out Simpson survived the 150 ft fall, and dug himself an ice cave to ride out the storm. Afterwards, he battled three days without food and water, and though he was severely injured, managed to crawl back to base camp for help.

Steven Callahan
callahan
This man of the sea found himself in quite the predicament when a whale bumped his sail boat in the middle of the night during a lone expedition. Callahan’s boat, Napoleon Solo, slowly sunk to the ocean bottom and Callahan found himself stranded in his inflatable raft with little water and a small amount of provisions. Surviving the blaring sun, battling dehydration and constant shark encounters, Callahan found solace in the Dorado fish that hung around his raft constantly—his “doggies”. Seven times he shot flares at passing ships only to be left in in frustration.

After 76 days and floating 1800 miles, he was finally found by some fisherman who rescued him, but unfortunately caught all of his beloved “doggies.”

Aron Ralston
We all know this story; does the movie 127 hours ring a bell?

An avid climber and outdoorsman, Ralston embarked on what he believed would be a delightful day trip of easy hiking and biking on the Blue John Canyon of southeast Utah. He was so unconcerned by the trip that he told no one where he was going. When he slipped in a narrow canyon slit and became stuck with an 800 lb boulder pinning his right arm—things got a tad bit unnerving.

After 5 days, his water bottle was bone dry and no food had touched his lips—his will to live was tested and he made the incredulous decision to amputate his own arm from the elbow down using a blunt pocketknife. After managing to make it out of the canyon, he flagged down some hikers and was airlifted to safety.

Aron Ralston
Self-portrait of American mountaineer Aron Ralston

Jan Baalsrud
Ok folks – the grand finale. This is pro survival status.

jan baalsrudJan Baalsrud was a young instrument maker who was asked to help the anti-Nazi resistance in Norway during WWII. During his trip on board a ship in the icy Norwegian waters, German soldiers showered his boat with bullets, killing everyone on board except him. He managed to dive into the water, with only one boot and sock, minus his big toe that had been shot off.

Pursued by at least 50 Nazis, he was able to swim to the Norwegian coast where two girls on the beach rescued him.  He had several Norwegian civilians secretly help him to reach safety in Sweden, but it took many attempts to finally make it.  On one attempt, Baalsrud journeyed across the snow-capped mountains while hiding from possible Nazi attack. An avalanche caused him to fall 300 feet and left him blind and severely concussed, aimlessly wandering in the snow for days, plagued with hallucinations.

Needless to say, Baalsrud was found and nursed back to health. He continued to try and push for the Swedish border again and again but was held back by Nazi soldiers. He was forced to find shelter in ice holes where he ended up cutting off the rest of his toes to save his feet and at one point, attempted suicide.

Baalsrud eventually made it to safety in Sweden, but not after undergoing a journey through icy hell itself.