Jessica FernstromComment

5 Terrifying Survival Stories

Jessica FernstromComment
5 Terrifying Survival Stories

As adventurers, we love an epic survival story. An agonizing tale of a group of explorers being rescued from an icy summit, the gripping story from someone who found their way after being lost for days, or the nerve-wracking account of experiencing a near-death injury while hiking.

Stories like these remind us of the dangers that come with a life of adventure, but make us appreciate all the times we’ve successfully conquered a challenging journey a little more.

Enjoy these 5 horrifying stories of adventurers who have endured terrifying situations and lived to tell the tale.


Struck By An Avalanche

What started as just another day of climbing for Colby Coombs and his two friends, quickly became a fight for survival after an avalanche sent the three men plummeting down an alaskan Ridge.

While climbing Alaska’s Mt. Foraker, Colby and his friends were just about 1,000 feet up when the rope above them suddenly went slack. As they looked up, they were struck by an avalanche, and the three men were sent sliding down the mountain. Eventually Colby hit something hard that sent his body flying through the air and then everything went black.

When he came-to six hours later, he was dangling from a rope, his scapula and neck broken, and was extremely dazed and confused. Once his head cleared, he noticed his two friends were now limp bodies in the snow and he knew immediately that he was the sole survivor. He detached himself from the rope and scrambled for a sleeping bag that had landed nearby for warmth and slept.

When he woke up, adrenaline must have been running wild through his veins, because he began his descent, fighting through the pain of his injuries. It took six days in total — he survived on melted snow and the little food he had left in his pack — each day tougher than the next. Then finally, on day 6, he spotted camp.

It’s one thing to survive an avalanche, but it’s another to witness your friends passing away — Colby, you’re one tough guy!

See the full story here!

Photo by Tom Fowlks

Photo by Tom Fowlks

Saved By A Pup

She had run this trail in Moab, Utah many times while training for the ironman triathlon, so when her and her pup “taz” set off on the familiar morning run on december 2006, she never expected that this might be the last time she would ever run in her life.

Two-time adventure racing world champion, Danelle Bellengee, was just about 90 minutes into her training session when she slipped on a patch of black ice. She was immediately sent hurtling down a steep cliff, hitting ledge after ledge until finally crashing 80 feet down and completely shattering her pelvis.

She began her slow, 5 hour crawl until collapsing from the pain and freezing temperatures. With her pup at her side managed to make it only a quarter of a mile. By then, the sun had set and her and Taz laid together through the night, moving around doing sit-ups and exercising as much as possible to keep from freezing.

The next day Taz became restless and began venturing off all day until night fell again. This night for Danelle was her hardest yet - she had been fighting off the urge to relieve herself, knowing that if she did, her urine would only accelerate the hypothermia. When she finally did relieve herself, she cried uncontrollable and began to accept her fate. The next morning, Taz set off on his longest venture yet. When rangers found Danelle’s truck and knew she was missing, they came across Taz who matched the description of Danelle’s dog so they decided to follow him back to the canyon. Danelle was was thrilled to see him when he finally returned, but what she loved even more was the sound of helicopters overhead coming to rescue them.

This story makes us want to hug our pups a little tighter. What did we do to deserve such loving creatures!?

See the full story here!


Alone At Sea For 76 Days

Waking up To ocean flooding into the cabin, experienced sailor Steve Callahan knew that his ship was going down — and it was going down fast.

On returning from his solo sailing journey across the Atlantic Ocean, a storm hit Steve’s 6.5 sloop in the middle of the night causing his boat to fill with water. He jumped up and immediately began to pack his life raft, having to dive for essentials that had already begun to submerge within the waves.

He spent that night fighting the storm, bailing out as much water as he could to keep his raft afloat and in the morning, it all sunk in — he was completely alone in the middle of the ocean with just enough food and water for a few days. In the first 14 days he remained hopeful, he managed to create a solar still for drinking water and fished with a spear gun he had on hand.

By day 50 he began to feel discouraged. He had spotted a few ships by this time, but none had come to his rescue and a tear in his raft was slowly pulling him into the depths of the sea. With the hot sun, no food, little water (his solar still was breaking), and no sign of help anywhere, it felt like the end — and it very well may have been. Fortunately at day 76 he was finally spotted and rescued by fisherman off the coast of Guadeloupe.

When all was said and done, Steve had suffered sunburns, salt wounds, and severe weight loss, but had survived being alone for 76 days out at sea — We’ll take that as a win!

See the full story here!


8 Days in waist-deep snow

We always look for the fastest route when embarking on a long road trip, but for one couple and their 5-month old son, taking a short cut turned their family trip into an icy fight for survival.

In late December in 1992, the James and Jennifer Stolpa packed up their pickup truck and headed to Idaho for a family members’ funeral, but when they arrived at Donner Pass, not far from Reno Nevada, they were informed that the interstate was closed due to severe snowstorms. Rather than waiting for it to clear, the couple decided to take an unmarked back road — a decision that they will always regret.

Eventually their truck couldn’t make it any further through the thick snow, and the family became stranded within the icy wilderness. With just a few snacks on hand and miles of thick snow all around, they spent the next 5 long days huddled together, waiting for help that would never come.

Instead of waiting another day, they decided to follow the road ahead in search for help, but after trudging over 12 miles waist-deep in snow (while carrying a 5-month old baby — imagine!) they gave up. Jennifer and their son found shelter in a small cave nearby while James headed back to the truck. Upon arriving, he began to retrace their tire tracks as best as he could for over 30 hours, until finally being spotted by a local road supervisor.

See the full story here!


Lose a Limb OR Lose Your LIfe

It’s a story that many of us know, and have maybe even seen retold by James Franco in the film 127 hours, but its a story that’s so extreme, we couldn’t leave it out!

In March of 2003, mountaineer Aron Ralston set off to explore the remote canyons of Utah. It was just supposed to be a short day hike - but when a boulder dislodged and crushed his arm, it quickly turned into 5 painful days and nights of fighting to survive.

He immediately began shouting for help, only to be met with the echo of his own cries. It was just him, a liter of water, a dull knife, and no way to move. As each day passed, the only tool he had on him slowly became his only chance at survival.

He began talking to himself, telling himself that if he didn’t do it, he wouldn’t survive, he would slowly starve or freeze to death. And after days of this back and forth with himself, he finally decided to do it. He picked up his dull knife and began cutting off his own arm. Eeeek!

See the full story here!


There’s nothing more horrifying than a tale of someone being stranded at sea, lost in a canyon, or injured while hiking — but stories like these remind us of the importance of always being prepared for the unexpected.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind before embarking on your next expedition:

  • Try not to travel solo, but if you do, always make sure someone knows where you are headed and when you will be returning — If you aren’t back by the time you gave them, they can call for help.

  • Always bring as much water as you can — If you get lost, you can survive without food, but you can’t survive without water.

*For more tips check out The Ultimate Hiking Survival Guide!

We can’t predict the unpredictable, but we can try and be as prepared as possible for any emergency before it comes our way.