There are many instances of people
having to withstand extremely miserable circumstances due to being placed in
destitute life-threatening situations; whether it be a sole plane crash
survivor lost in the Amazon rainforest or a crew of men trapped in ice at the
South Pole, here are my Top 4 cases of Extreme Survival and Persistence. Number
4… Ernest Shackleton and the 27 crew aboard the Endurance. Englishman Ernest
Shackleton was a renowned and celebrated Polar explorer and had already once
braved the Antarctic before he set out on the Imperial Trans Antarctic
Expedition in 1914. The Endurance departed south bound for Antarctica from
South Georgia on December 5th 1914 and was headed for the Vahsel Bay. Very soon
ice was encountered which slowed progress and on January 19th 1915 the
Endurance found itself frozen in an ice floe in the Weddell Sea. Realizing that
she would be trapped until the following spring the ship was converted to a
winter station. She drifted northward with the ice for the following months
and when spring arrived in September the breaking of the ice and its subsequent
movements put extreme pressure on the hull. On October 24th water began pouring
in and Shackleton gave the order to abandon ship. The crew was transferred to
camps on the ice and on November 21st 1915 the ship finally slipped beneath
the surface. For almost two months Shackleton and his party camped on a
large flat ice floe hoping that it would drift towards Paulet Island,
approximately 250 miles away, where supplies were stored. After failed
attempts to march across the ice to this island Shackleton decided to set up a
more permanent camp on another floe hoping that the drift of the ice would
take them towards a safe landing. By the middle of March their ice camp was
within 60 miles of Paulet Island but separated by impassable ice and they
knew they’d be unable to reach it. On April 9th
their ice floe broke into two and Shackleton ordered the crew into the
lifeboats to head for the South Georgia whaling stations which were 720 nautical
miles away. The journey ultimately took 14 days and the tiny 20-foot lifeboats
were in constant peril of capsizing in the stormy seas. On May 8th the cliffs of
South Georgia came into sight but hurricane-force winds prevented landing.
The party was forced to ride out the storm offshore in constant danger of
being dashed against the rocks. On the following day they were finally able to
land on the unoccupied southern shore. After resting a few days, Shackleton
decided to attempt a land crossing of the island.
Although whalers had previously crossed at other points on ski no one had
attempted this particular route before on foot. For their journey the survivors
were only equipped with boots they had pushed screws into to aid with their
climbing, along with a carpenter’s axe and some rope. Shackleton and crew then
traveled 32 miles over extremely dangerous mountainous terrain for 36
hours to reach the whaling station at Stromness on May 20th 1916 finally
ending their struggles. Number 3… Juliane Koepcke. Juliane Koepcke was born in
1954 in Lima Peru to German parents. Her father a biologist and her mother and
ornithologist opened a research station in the Amazon Rainforest when Juliane
was 14 and she became something of a jungle child and learned many survival
techniques. She eventually had to return to Lima to finish her studies and she
attended her high school graduation on December 23rd 1971. The next day on
Christmas Eve the 17 year old boarded LANSA flight 508 with her mother to
unite with her father in the eastern city of Pucallpa who was working at the
research station in the Amazonian Rainforest.
The flight started out as any other when about halfway through the clouds grew
very dark and the turbulence got much worse.
Suddenly the plane found itself in the midst of a massive thunderstorm. The
plane was in a swirl of pitch-black clouds and lightning lit up the sky. When
a lightning bolt struck the motor the plane broke into pieces and
disintegrated in midair. Koepcke still strapped to her seat began free-falling
and within a few moments lost consciousness. She fell 10,000 feet,
almost two miles down from the sky and landed in the middle of the Peruvian
Rainforest. Amazingly she survived the fall but suffered a concussion, a broken
collarbone, a bruised eye and a deep gash on her calf. It is conjectured that the
jungle foliage and the cushion from the airplane seat saved her life. For the
next 24 hours Juliane faded in and out of consciousness and when she started to
feel better she set out to find her mother but after much searching was
unsuccessful. In the midst of looking for her mother Koepcke came across a stream
and remembered some survival advice given by her father; “If you see water
follow it downstream, that’s where civilization is. A small
stream will flow into a bigger one and then into a bigger one and an even
bigger one and finally you’ll run in to help.”
She began her journey down the stream alternating between walking and wading.
On the fourth day of her Trek she came across three fellow passengers still
strapped to their seats but they were dead. Amongst the passengers was a bag of
sweets. It would serve as her only food source
for the rest of her days in the forest. It was around this time that Koepcke
heard and saw rescue planes and helicopters above, yet her attempts to
draw their attention were unsuccessful. Due to the density of the forest the
wreckage was impossible to locate, what to speak of trying to locate a single
person. The week-long trek through the rainforest started to take its toll on
her body and her multiple wounds were becoming badly infected. She could see
maggots crawling under her skin on her right arm. Nearby was a moored boat with a
full tank of gas which gave her an idea.. Koepke later stated “I remember having
seen my father when he cured a dog of worms in the jungle with gasoline. I got
some gasoline and poured it on myself. I counted the worms when they started to
slip out. There were 35 on my arm that came oozing out.” Luckily a few hours later nearby
lumber workers found her giving her first aid and taking her to a more
inhabited area where she was airlifted to a hospital. After she was treated for
her injuries Koepcke was reunited with her father. Sadly her mother and the
remaining 89 passengers perished in the crash.
Number 2… Aron Ralston. Aron Ralston was a mechanical engineer from Denver Colorado
who had a strong passion for rock climbing. In 2002 after just five years
in the workforce he decided he wanted to devote more time to mountaineering and
left his job. His ultimate goal was to climb Denali, the highest peak in all
North America, and in preparation for this he planned to climb all 59 “fourteeneers”,
which are mountains with peaks of 14,000 feet or higher in Colorado. Not only that
but he planned on climbing all these solo and in the winter, a feat which had
never been performed before. In April 2003 Ralston traveled to southeastern
Utah to explore Canyonlands National Park. On April 27th at 9 o’clock on a
Saturday morning Ralston rode his bike 15 miles to Blue
John Canyon. At around 2:30 p.m. he started to descend into the canyon when
suddenly a giant rock above him slipped. Ralston started to fall and his right
hand became lodged between the canyon wall and the massive boulder leaving him
trapped 100 feet below the desert surface and many miles from the nearest
paved road. Ralston was trapped in this position and didn’t have any way to
signal for help. Even worse was that he hadn’t told anyone he was going climbing
that weekend. His only provisions were two burritos, a candy bar and a bottle of
water. He tried chipping away at the boulder
with his climbing tools but had no success. Pretty
soon Ralston ran out of water and had to start drinking his own urine to fend of
dehydration. He soon came to the conclusion that cutting off his arm
would be the only means of escape and began experimenting with different
tourniquets but he couldn’t figure out how to saw
through his bone. Ralston soon became very distraught and
started to lose hope. He resigned himself to his fate and carved his name, his
birth-date, the day’s date and the letters RIP into the canyon wall and then
made a farewell video for his family. That night as he slept, drifting in and
out of consciousness, Ralston dreamt of himself with half a
right arm playing with a child. After awakening Ralston felt the dream was a
sign that he would survive this ordeal and go on to start a family. The dream
gave Ralston the inspiration he needed and that morning he set to work with
renewed hope. He now knew that he wouldn’t have to cut through his bones
but could break them instead. He managed to break his two large forearm bones, the
ulna and radius, with the torque from his trapped arm. When his bones were
disconnected he was able to construct a tourniquet from the tubing of his water
bottle and cut off his circulation entirely. Using his cheap dull 2-inch
pocketknife he was able to cut through his skin and muscle and then used a pair
of pliers to cut through his tendons. Intelligently he saved his arteries for
last knowing that he wouldn’t have much time after they were severed. “All the
desires joys and euphoria’s of the future life came rushing into me,” Ralston
later stated, “Maybe this is how I handled the pain. I was so happy to be taking
action.” The entire process took only an hour during which Ralston lost 25
percent of his blood. Euphoric, adrenalized and driven by the sheer will
to live, Ralston climbed out of the canyon, rappelled down a 65 foot cliff
and started the 8 mile hike to his car. He was losing a profuse amount of blood
and was severely dehydrated but somehow managed to keep a steady pace.
Six miles into his hike he came across a family who had been hiking in the canyon.
They gave him some cookies and water and quickly alerted the authorities.
Officials had already been searching the area by helicopter but were unable to
spot Ralston as he was trapped below the surface of the canyon. Four hours after
amputating his arm Ralston was finally rescued by medics. They believed that
Ralston only had a few minutes left before he would have bled to death.
Ralston’s severed arm and hand were retrieved by Park Rangers following his
rescue. The hand and arm were cremated and six months later, on his 28th
birthday, Ralston returned to Blue John Canyon and
scattered the ashes where he felt they belonged. The dream that inspired his
incredible escape turned out to be true. Ralston is now a proud father of two and
in 2005 became the first person to climb all 59 of Colorado’s “fourteeners”s, alone
and in the snow… Not a bad feat for only having one hand.
Number 1… Ada blackjack. Ada Blackjack was an Alaskan native and member of the
indigenous Inupiat tribe when she was hired by Canadian Vilhjalmur Stefansson
to work as a seamstress and cook, on an expedition to the Wrangel islands
for the British Empire. Although Ada was Inupiat, she didn’t have any knowledge of
hunting or survival skills and had a crippling fear of polar bears. She was
raised by Methodist missionaries who taught her housekeeping, sewing, cooking
and English for studying the Bible. Initially Steffansson had promised Ada
that other Alaskan Natives would be in the party, so she had many misgivings
when she discovered she’d be shipping out alone with four men; Alan Crawford,
Lorne Knight, Fred Maurer, and Milton Galle, along with the ship’s cat Victoria. The
promised salary of $50 a month was too good to pass up, as the odd jobs of
housekeeping and sewing she was picking up in Nome, Alaska weren’t enough to care
for her and her sick son. On September 9th 1921 Blackjack boarded
the ‘Silver Wave’ with the four men and Victoria and with only enough provisions
for six months. Steffansson has assured the crew that there would be sufficient
game to augment their stores until the following year when a ship would be
there to pick them up. For the first year the crew was fairly successful with
their traps and hunting but as summer came to an end the once plentiful game
disappeared and the pack ice closed in with no sign of a ship. Unbeknownst to
the party, the Teddy Bear, the ship charted to pick them up, had been forced
to turn back due to impenetrable ice. As the weather turned, the expedition faced
the reality that they’re inadequate stores would have to last another year.
By the beginning of 1923 the situation had turned dire. The party was starving
and the temperatures hovered around minus 48 degrees Celsius and Knight was
extremely ill with scurvy. On January 28th 1923, Crawford, Maurer and Galle made
the decision to set out on foot across the ice to Siberia in search of help
leaving Black Jack to care for Knight. The four men were never found or seen again.
For the next six months, Blackjack served as Knight’s doctor, nurse
companion, servant and hunts-woman, but eventually Knight succumbed to his illness
leaving Ada all by her lonesome. After Knight’s passing, Blackjack refused to
fall into despair and instead threw herself ferociously to the task of
surviving. She drove driftwood into the ground to bolster the tattered walls and
ceiling of her tent. She built a cupboard out of boxes which she placed at the
entrance, and in this she stored her field glasses and ammunition. Most
importantly Blackjack built a gun rack above her bed so that she would not be
caught by surprise if polar bears ventured too close to camp. For three
months Blackjack was alone. She learned how to set traps to lure white foxes,
taught herself to shoot seals and birds, built a platform above her shelter so
that she could spot polar bears in the distance, and crafted a skin boat from
driftwood and stretched canvas. She even learned how to take photos of herself
performing work while in camp. On August 20th 1923,
almost two years after first landing on Wrangel Island, the schooner Donaldson
made landing to rescue the persevering woman who was doing quite
well on her own. She strode out to meet the crew wrapped in a reindeer jacket she
had sewn herself, and she had a smile on her face that only someone who survived
against all odds knows how to wear. The men of the Donaldson were quite
impressed and upon seeing Ada’s finely-tuned camp they claimed she had
so mastered the harsh Arctic environment that she and Vic could have lived there
for at least another year .Shortly after returning home with Vic, the tale of
Ada’s long ordeal spread and the seamstress found herself at the
epicentre of a flurry of press attention. She was lauded for her courage and
praised as the female Robinson Crusoe and many were greedy to recount her
story to the masses. But the persevering lady shied away from the attention and
insisted that she was only a mother who was eager to be reunited with her son .So
this concludes my top four Extreme Survival and Persistence situations. My
name is Rob 7389S and I hoped you enjoyed the video. Thanks for watching
and see you next time. [Music]