Humans are not invisible. It may be the realization of this physical limitation that pushes folks to use their brain power to create resources which in turn increases the chances of endurance, particularly in extreme conditions.
Despite shortcomings, people are born with this survival instinct that knows to kick in at the right time. Throughout history, there have been extraordinary men and women who were meant to perish but somehow found the will and wits to live and share their stories.
#1. Ben Nyaumbe survived a vicious attack from a 13-feet-long python.
The man was walking home from the farm he works at in the Malindi area in Kenya. “I stepped on a spongy thing on the ground and suddenly my leg was entangled with the body of a huge python,” he recalls. The snake coiled itself around the man’s body. He bit the snake’s tail and covered the face with his T-shirt, prompting the reptile to release the man. The three-hour ordeal left Nyaumbe with a damaged lip and some bruising.
#2. Todd Orr survived a bear attack twice.
Orr was hiking through rural Montana scouting for elk when he came across a mama bear with her cubs. He pulled out the bear spray just in time as she was charging towards him at full speed. Even after being sprayed she got on top of him before walking away. Bruised and scared the man begin to walk back to his car but the bear came at him again. She bit his arm, shoulder, and head before she finally left him lying on the floor. Orr was injured but managed to get to his car and drive himself to the hospital.
#3. John Colter aka Mountain Man.
Colter was part of an expedition when him and his colleague were canoeing along the Jefferson River in Montana when they were ambushed by the Blackfeet tribe in 1809. Colter’s friend was killed while Colter was stripped naked and forced to run while the men hunted for him. He escaped and survived in the wilderness for 11 days until he found refuge in the nearest trading post.
#4. Slavomir Rawicz was a long way from his native Poland.
In 1940, the polish Army lieutenant was imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag after the Soviet-Germany invasion of Poland. The Gulag was deep in the Siberian wilderness. Escaping the prison was difficult but surviving the treacherous cold winter was next to impossible. Gulag is only 650 km south of the Arctic Circle. Nonetheless, Rawicz and six other men made their escape on foot. It took them a year trekking through the Siberian forest, Gobi Desert, and the Himalayan Mountains. In total, Rawicz and his men covered a total of 4,000 miles until they reached India. Three of his friends perished in their walk to freedom.
#5. Anna Bågenholm survived 80 minutes of hell.
In 1999, Anna Bagenholm was on a skiing trip in Narvik, Norway,when she fell in freezing water. The Swedish radiologist was trapped under a layer of ice where she went into extreme hypothermia. Her body temperature dipped to 56.7 °F, the lowest ever recorded for a person suffering accidental hypothermia. She found an air pocket but went into circulatory arrest. A team of over 100 doctors and nurses worked in shifts for nine hours trying to save her life. Bågenholm awoke ten days later, paralyzed from the neck down. She made an almost full recovery, still suffering from nerve injury to her hands and feet.