It’s one of the 20th century’s greatest survival epics: A plane crashes high in the Andes leaving 32 people stranded with little food except the bodies of the dead. As even that supply dwindles, three survivors embark on an impossible journey to find help.
This timeless survival story spurred the book and film Alive. In April 2006, we published Contributing Editor James Vlahos’s account of the first retracing of the escape route used in 1972 by Uruguayan rugby players Roberto Canessa, Nando Parrado, and Antonio Vizintín two months after their Fairchild 571 crashed in the Andes. Online, see a 3-D escape route map, photo gallery, and, most poignant, hear audio from the survivors themselves as they reflect on their ordeal.
“I was seeing how my friends were melting and vanishing and getting weaker. The fuselage was getting very depressing and miserable," says Canessa. "I felt it was much more pure to die walking in the snow… . I had the idea that I would walk to the last bit of energy that I had." (Listen to the audio clip >>)
These remarkable people had the clarity of mind and perseverance to survive the most unbelievable circumstances. Their actions embody the "rules of survival" that Laurence Gonzales defines in his new Deep Survival column. It’s worth listening to their insights.
- Nat Geo Expeditions