There are few people who have actually found themselves in impossible situations where there is no one to help you and when all that you can rely on is your own inner strength. But being cut off from any sorts of society or human company gives birth to such a primal fear that those who find themselves in the cruelest of situations, end up doing whatever it takes to survive. Here are some of the most surprising and epic tales of survival:
1. Jungle Appendectomy
While breaking out of a Japanese prison in Borneo with a local Chinese man called Johnny Funk, the very determined veterinarian Robert McLaren developed appendicitis. Because of his medical training, he quickly analyzed the situation and determined the grave danger he was in. And as desperate times call for desperate measures, Robert “Lock” McLaren made a call that could save or end his life.
He decided to take out his own appendix (this without scalpels, operating rooms or any type of medical personnel). At his disposal were a mirror, a pocketknife and some jungle fibers he used to stich up his wound. He also had no anesthetic. The operation took four and a half hours but in spite of the hell he went through, McLaren was back on his feet two days after the surgery.
2. Climbing Down the Mountain With Broken Legs
Doug Scott has several impressive survival stories under his belt and they have turned this legend of mountaineering into an artist when it comes to surviving in impossible conditions. In 1977 Scott decided that he was going to tackle “The Ogre”, a notorious Pakistani mountain that still hadn’t been conquered. On July 13, Scott together with Chris Bonington (his climbing partner) were already standing at the Ogre’s peak.
They decided they would abseil down the rock face but in doing so, Scott was swung by a gust of wind against the cliffs and shattered both his legs. He continued to abseil the rest of the way using his knees (only his lower legs had been broken). A blizzard forced the two (who had met up with two other members of their expedition) into a cave where their rations soon came to an end. It was impossible for Scotty to be carried by his colleagues (as Bonington also fractured two ribs in a separate fall), so all he could do was to start crawling down the mountain. For seven excruciating days he crawled on hands and knees until he wore through four layers of clothes.
When they reached their base camp, they found it was deserted but Scott was eventually flown via helicopter to the hospital. Not surprisingly, the helicopter crashed at the hospital (because you can only have a certain amount of luck it would seem!). Scott did crawl away scratch free, though.
3. Candy Bar Survival Mastery
James Scott was a medical student in 1991 when he decided to volunteer in Nepal. When he wasn’t on duty, James found it refreshing to trek through the Himalayas. So before Christmas James decided to hike the Helambu Trail when he encountered a party of friendly Germans who suggested an alternative route that would be, according to them, way more scenic and beautiful. Their only warning was that he not continue trekking if it started to snow. James set out with two of his friends but they were soon greeted with a light snowfall.
Since it seemed to be way to light to qualify as snowfall, James disregarded the warning he had received from his German friends and continued to walk. One of the companions complained of knee pains and turned back (and neither James nor his other friend noticed that he was the only one of the three with a map or a lighter). Farther along the trail the snow grew dense and visibility became zero. James’ friend refused to turn back so they took shelter under a rock overhang. With only two chocolate bars, a copy of Great Expectations, a small notebook, a light jacket and tennis shoes, it seemed James was a goner. He ate the chocolate bars sparingly while trying to search for a way back and when they ran out, he ate a caterpillar he found crawling around.
He would eat snow to remain hydrated (although eating too much of it could lower his body temperature significantly). After 43 days, the efforts of his rescue team coordinated by his sister were rewarded and he found the energy to crawl and wave to the rescue helicopter he heard.