No matter how advanced we become and how well we shelter ourselves with technology, mother nature has the ability to quickly and brutally remind us how little control we have over her.
The winters are notorious for crippling those who do not pay their respects and underestimate Old Man Winter. He’s defeated armies, caused civilizations to retreat and has the power to move mountains (of ice), and yet people still tempt fate by venturing into the unknown without sufficient supplies. Valhalla Tactical stocks a wide range of sleeping bags suitable for subzero temperatures. While the majority of us will never be buried by an avalanche or lost freezing in the dark, there are few who don’t share the same fortune as most. Here are the seven craziest winter survival stories we could find:
7. Dog Survives Alaskan Winter
January 22, 2004, logger Greg Clark’s boat struck rocks off the shore of Alaska. When the rescue team arrived, there was no sign of Clark or his dog, Brick. Rescue crews combed the area for three days, finding no signs of life and an unused survival suit. One month later, Kevin Dau (Clark’s former colleague) was fishing off Heceta Island and spotted what he thought was a wolf. When he got closer he called Brick’s name. The dog immediately jumped into the freezing water and swam to the boat, even though he was malnourished and had survived subzero temperatures for one month straight.
6. Surviving The Death Zone
What do you get when you combine subzero temperatures and not enough oxygen to survive without breathing aids – the death zone. Most climbers who have died on Everest have died here. Beck Weathers survived 18 hours in the ‘death zone’, but didn’t return unscathed. He lost both hands to frostbite and his face was left disfigured from the extreme temperatures. Jon Krakauer turned this harrowing ordeal into a best seller, ‘Into Thin Air’.
5. Donner-Reed Party
The Donner-Reed party was the name given to a group of American Pioneers. They set out in 1846 for California by wagon train, only to become stuck in a severe snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Out of the original 87 members, only 45 survived, and they survived by any means necessary (cannibalism etc). This event is proclaimed to be one of the biggest tragedies in Californian history and the most tragic occurrence in the record of the American westward migration.
4. Snowbound Family
Jim Stolpa and his wife Jennifer were travelling home with their five-month-old son, Clayton, when they became stuck in a snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in late 1992. You’d think they would have taken supplies after what happened to the Donner-Reed Party. After four freezing days inside the ute, they decided to battle the elements and go out on foot. Jim walked for around 80km before finding help and returning to his wife and son who had stopped in a cave after it became too tough to continue. This is what the will to survive looks like.
3. Alpine Plane Crash
On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 had an untimely rendezvous with the Andes Mountains. Upon impact, 12 people were killed and of the remaining 29 who survived, another eight died when an avalanche struck their makeshift shelter inside the plane wreckage. After eating the bodies of the dead, two of the remaining survivors chose to brave the cold in search of hope. Thankfully, they found a local Chilean man who alerted authorities and the remaining survivors were rescued.
2. Coombs vs The Avalanche
Colby Coombs was a 25-year-old National Outdoor Leadership instructor on vacation in the Alaskan Range. As he and two of his friends approached the end of their trek, an avalanche crushed down from above knocking the three 250 metres down the side of the mountain. When Coombs regained consciousness, he swung over to his friend who was also hanging from his rope, but he had passed on. After climbing back up he then trekked for four days with broken vertebrae, shoulders and ankles.
1. Stuart Diver vs Thredbo Landslide
Diver was the only person to survive the tragic event when two ski lodges were crushed by a landslide in July 1997. Diver was stuck underground for 54 hours before his cries to rescuers were heard, but was still not freed for another 11 hours as they worked to free him safely.
If you’re thinking about braving the cold this winter, make sure you head to our products page and stock up on sleeping bags that are purpose specific for your journey. Valhalla Tactical is stocked up on anything you will need to keep you warm on missions or an extreme outdoor adventure. Contact us today on 07 3855 2574 or use our online contact form.