Extreme Survival


Blue John Canyon, Utah, the area where Aron Ralston was trapped
By Michael Grindstaff (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

What would you do if your airplane crashed in the forest? What would you do if you were trapped in the wild? Mike Procter and Liz Waid tell two stories of extreme survival.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Mike Procter. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A young man is trapped on a mountain. He is alone. A young woman is lost in a forest. She is also alone. Both face death. And both work hard to survive. Today’s Spotlight is on these two young people and how they survived extreme accidents.

Voice 2 

In April 2003 Aron Ralston was 27. He lived in Utah, in the United States. He loved to hike, to take long walks in nature. On April the 26, he went alone. He climbed into a deep, narrow valley. But then he had an accident. A huge rock fell down the mountain. The rock landed on his hand, crushing it. Ralston was trapped.

Voice 1 

Ralston had not told anyone where he was going to walk. So he knew that no one would be searching for him. People did not usually hike in the area. He knew that he would die if he could not free his hand.

Voice 2 

He tried to move the rock. He wanted to release his hand. He tried very hard. But he could not move the rock. Finally, on the second day, he considered cutting off his arm. But he only had a small knife. It would not cut through the bones in his arm.

Voice 1 

He struggled to escape for five days. By then he had no more water to drink. He was very weak. And he could not think clearly. He thought he was going to die. So he wrote his name on the side of the mountain. And he recorded a final message for his family. Then he went to sleep.

Voice 2 

The next morning he was still alive! He was very surprised. Suddenly he had new energy. He had a new idea. He decided to use his own body weight to break the bones in his arm. Then he cut off his hand with his small knife. It took him a long time to cut his hand off. And it was very painful. But at last he was free.

Voice 1 

But Ralston was still not safe. He was almost 13 kilometres from his car. And he had no telephone. So he had to go and find help. He climbed down a 19 metre mountain wall. Then he started to walk out of the valley. The sun was hot. And he had no water to drink. He was also losing a lot of blood.

Voice 2 

But then he found a group of people. It was a family who were on holiday. They helped him. They gave him water to drink. Finally, he was rescued. It was only six hours after cutting off his arm.

Voice 1 

Later doctors fitted a false hand to his arm. It includes special climbing tools. So Ralston can still go climbing. He has climbed many mountains since the accident. But now he always tells people where he is going.

Voice 2 

In December 1971 Juliane Koepcke was 17. She and her mother were flying home for Christmas. The airplane was over Peru. But the airplane flew into a very bad storm. The airplane went up and down. Then lightning hit it. The engines stopped, and the airplane began to fall towards the ground. When it was three kilometres above the earth, it broke into pieces.

Voice 1

Koepcke was still tied into her seat. She fell through the air alone. All she heard was the noise of the wind going past her ears. Then she hit the ground very hard. The seat saved her from being killed. But she suffered a broken bone in her chest. She had deep cuts on her body. And she could not open her right eye.

Voice 2 

Koepcke had landed in the Amazon rain forest. She looked for her mother. But she could not find her. She heard rescue airplanes above the trees. But the forest was very thick. So she could not see the airplanes, and rescuers could not see her.

Voice 1 

But Koepcke knew how to survive in the forest environment. Her parents were scientists. They studied birds and animals that lived in the rain forest. And Koepcke had lived in the rain forest with her parents.

Voice 2 

She found a very small river. And she began to walk in it. She followed the direction the river flowed. She knew it would bring her to people. It also provided her with clean water to drink. However, Koepcke had no food. She only had a few sweet candy treats.

Voice 1 

She avoided snakes by walking in the water. But she could not avoid insects. They bit her a lot. And the bites became infected. It was very hot and wet in the day. And it was very cold at night.

Voice 2 

By the tenth day, Koepcke was very weak, and very lonely. She began walking near a larger river. Then Koepcke saw a big boat. She thought she was dreaming. She went to touch the boat. It was real! Near the boat was a shelter. This discovery gave her new hope. She knew there must be people in the area.

Voice 1 

Several hours later some men returned to the shelter. They worked in the forest, cutting trees. They cared for her injuries. And they gave her food. The next day they took her down the river to find help. The boat trip took seven hours.

Voice 2 

Koepcke’s father was waiting for her. They held each other. They still did not know if Koepcke’s mother was alive. There had been 92 passengers and crew on the airplane. Later they discovered that Koepcke was the only survivor of the crash.

Voice 1 

More than 40 years later, Koepcke spoke to reporter Tom Littlewood. She told him,

Voice 3 

‘I had bad dreams for many years. The sadness about my mother’s death and that of the other people came back again and again. The thought ‘Why was I the only survivor?’ never leaves me. It never will.’

Voice 2 

Koepcke now lives in Germany. She returns to Peru every year. She loves the rain forest. And she works to protect it.

Voice 1 

Ralston and Koepcke both had advantages in these situations. They were both young and strong. They both had experience being in wild places. But they had something else in common too. They both had a strong desire to survive. Do you think that you could survive in situations like these?

Voice 2 

The writer of this programme was Joy Smith. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this programme and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this programme again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Extreme Survival’.

Voice 1 

To hear another program about extreme survival, visit our website. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight programme. Goodbye.

Question:

What would you do if your airplane crashed in the forest? What would you do if you were trapped in the wild?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on October 12, 2012

This topic is great.  I like the nature too but I always tell to my relatives where I go
It’s important to inform to anyone. Because I don’t know what will happen in that footpath or place.
thank you go ahead…
greetings
Grg

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Dela
said on October 19, 2012

Nature is very beautiful but it also can be very cruel when we don’t adhere to its rules. Thanks for a great article!

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Dela
said on October 19, 2012

Both my daughter and I lost in the mountains several years ago, but yet we found the right way late at night and could return to our cottage. We forgot to report about direction of our track. It was a big fault! In spite of it everything finished good finally. Thanks for a great article!

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kenhieuloilam
said on March 20, 2014

In the life we desire to live. We desire to live a beautiful good life. If we live we will live our lives for beautiful good things. If we die we will die for beautiful good things. When we live we live and do workings. We have activities. We do beautiful good things. When we die we leave beautiful good things for the life. We help everyone. We help each other. Living a beautiful good life is our great joy. Becoming a good person is our great joy.

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buitrangkec57
said on November 03, 2015

I do not know how to suffer from if I in this situations coz I scare dark and lonely. But the nature is so great if people protect it. Do not have bear in forest or dangerous animals?

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improve_english
said on November 08, 2015

What a extreme dangerous story!! I actually admire their desire to survive. They are both young and have experiences to live in the wild places. If I had been them, I wouldn’t have known how to survive in that situation. However, when you go to some wild place, you have to prepare some knowledge and life skills about how to survive. This article is precious experience for people loving adventures and hiking like that.