The whole point of being a prepper is that you can overcome adversity in the worst of circumstances. However, no matter how well-prepared you are, bad things can happen.

Maybe you feel a bit too confident in your abilities, or maybe fate just strikes. Either way, with quick thinking and survival knowledge, these five people survived experiences that would mean almost certain death for most folks.

Story 1: Boyd Severson

Boyd Severson

If you are going to be out in the wilds with cold weather, always make sure you have more clothes than you think you’ll need. This is a lesson that saved the life of 56 year old Boyd Severson when he decided to go for a hike in the Colorado Rockies and was hit by a snowstorm.

Though he made the mistake of going out alone and did not check the local weather forecasts, Severson still used a few survival tricks he had acquired over the years to keep himself safe and alive.

After seeing the oncoming storm, Severson began his descent, but took a wrong turn. Realizing his error, he dropped below the timber line to protect himself from the worst of the wind. Once night fell and his visibility dropped to zero, Severson found a cubby blocked on three sides and put on every article of clothing he had. His decision to stay in the timber line and hunker in a relatively protected crevice are probably what saved his life.

Then, he used muscle clenching exercising to keep up his body heat and stave off freezing to death. Once daylight broke, he waited until after noon in case his wife sent a search party for him. By 1:30 p.m., he headed back up the mountain where he was rescued.

 

Story 2: Juliane Koepcke

Juliane Koepcke

The subject of a Werner Herzog documentary called “Wings of Hope,” Juliane Koepcke is one of the few survival stories on this list that did not make any mistakes which could have brought her own undoing. Of course, this merely reinforces the point that even if you do everything right, things can still go horribly wrong.

Flying over a Peruvian rainforest on Christmas Eve of 1971, her plane was struck by lightning and began to disintegrate in mid-air. Miraculously, she survived the crash with a broken collarbone and nasty wound to her arm. Thinking quickly, Koepcke found a stream that served both to keep her hydrated and aid in her travel, allowing her to conserve energy.

By the time she found an encampment further downstream nine days later, maggots had infested the wound on her arm. The camp harvested lumber, and Koepcke used gasoline to kill the maggots and disinfect the wound. With keen use of natural features and inventiveness of resources, Juliane was eventually found by the lumber workers and airlifted to a hospital.

 

Story 3: Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

This next story combines elements of the previous two: it takes place on a frigid mountain and in Peru. Moreover, the survivor of this tale was not traveling alone--though perhaps he would have preferred to.

In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates wanted to be the first people to ascend the west face of Siula Grande. Not only were they travelling together, the weather was beautiful. However, those conditions would not last.

During the ascent, Simpson broke his leg. To make matters worse, a storm blew in as Yates tried to descend the face toting Simpson. Frostbitten with poor visibility, Yates cut the line and Simpson plummeted 150 ft down.

Amazingly, Simpson survived the fall. Without the use of his legs, Simpson dug out an ice cave until the storm passed over. Then he crawled three days without food or water until he made it back to base camp.

That was surely an awkward meeting. Regardless, Simpson’s trial shows that even prepared preppers still need to be on their toes and keep their wits about them, no matter how dire the circumstances.

 

Story 4: Amy Racina

Amy Racina

Our next story continues what is becoming a regular trend: going out into the wilds alone. Amy Racina had been backpacking since she was 16 years old. Eventually, she developed a taste for solo trips--despite being one of the worst decisions an outdoorsman can make.

On a planned 162 mile solo hike in Tehipite Valley, a remote area of Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, CA, Racina lost her way on day 12. She began to criss-cross, looking for her lost trail, when the ground underneath her gave way.

Racina and her pack plummeted down a 60 ft ravine. With both legs broken and a broken hip, Racina kept her head and retrieved her first aid kit. After stabilizing as best she could, she dragged herself to a stream, allowing the water to help keep her hydrated and ease some of the burden.

Thankfully, after three days of calling for help, some hikers happened to hear her. After finding her, the hikers came across a group of vacationing firefighters. After receiving temporary care, one of the firefighters rode a horse to his car where he phoned for help, saving Racina and her legs.

 

Story 5: Aron Ralston

Aron Ralston

No list of survival stories would be complete without including arguably the most famous survival story in history: the story of Aron Ralston. Of course, to a prepper, this story is more a warning than vindication as Ralston made numerous mistakes throughout his ordeal, though there is one strategy of note that we can all learn from.

An experienced outdoorsman, Ralston made the crucial error of going out into the wild without telling anyone where he was going or bringing any kind of communication or signaling device. He was confident in his abilities, but that confidence would cost him.

While climbing on the Blue John Canyon of southeast Utah, Ralston slipped into a crevice, dislodging a boulder that would crush and trap his arm against the canyon wall. In a matter of days, Ralston had run out of food and water and was forced to rely on his own urine to stay hydrated.

That last bit is the only commendable part of this tale to a prepper. Though, one could argue Ralston’s sheer cussedness and will to live are just as commendable. So strong was his survival instinct, Ralston used a blunt pocketknife to self-amputate his trapped arm taking an hour of work to do so.

Once freed, Ralston put his well-honed skills to good use, descending the crevice’s remaining 65 ft with one hand. Once on the ground, he was eventually found by a European family camping nearby and rescued from the brink of death by blood loss.

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