Survival in the Andes

Old 10-21-2010, 08:35 AM
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Survival in the Andes

Last night I finally watched the entire story of that 1972 plane crash in the Andes. I had a baby in 1972 so didn't pay much attention then except to gasp over the cannibalism and surviving two months stranded in the Andes.

I found it an enthralling metaphor for overcoming co-dependency. The forbidding peaks, covered with snow 100 ft deep, a landscape that could not support life, the desperate compromises. Facing the decision that someone must leave the shelter of the wreckage and seek rescue. The trek, the climb -- one step upward and half a step sliding back on the snow. Knowing you must go forward because you cannot go back. Scaling the final peaks and seeing signs of life spread out at your feet.

The term "false summit" especially struck me. What appears to be the summit, the goal, then discovering the true summit is miles above it. There have been many false summits for me.

Anyway . . .the visual and visceral impact was profound . . .and I wondered whether anyone else here has ever watched the story and experienced a similar impact.
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Old 10-21-2010, 11:32 AM
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I recorded it because I knew it would require a detailed watching.

Just the little bit I did watch of these survivors decades later was
so interesting.

The guy who was the main force of traveling through all that and
had just lost his Sister and Mom is an amazing man.

And how interesting the movie just depicted them having to climb in the snow but not at the tedious and daunting pace they had to do in reality.

Was amazed also at the false peak - that would have sent some into giving up.

It is about time they really did a good documentary on this and the
descriptions of what they did can be an inspiration.
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Old 10-21-2010, 01:30 PM
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Made me take stock of all the things I have in life to be grateful for. Made me focus on what's important. I need a weekly reminder like that.. LOL!!
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Old 10-21-2010, 01:55 PM
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It's great to know you watched it, too. Yeah, Nando Parrado is something, isn't he? I couldn't believe it when he got in that helicopter to show them where the rest of the survivors were.

Heck, I wanted to give up when I saw that second summit -- and I was just sitting on the couch. Grass to eat and fresh water is all you really need -- and a friend who will climb the Andes with you.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:20 PM
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I watched Alive (the film with Ethan Hawke) years ago and was haunted by the story for some time. Puts worrying about fighting for a parking space into perspective......

That reminds me, I was going to write a post about an experience I had this summer that was full of recovery metaphors. I haven't time to write it up properly now (and I'm sure it won't be of interest to most people!), but I'll give you the jist....

My father and I set out for a two day and night sail, with a fair forecast, although with a tiny patch of increased wind of a strength that we had dealt with easiy before. The first day and evening were beautiful and we were all set for a long, but easy passage. At about 4am, the wind started to pick up and the waves started to increase in size. Within 3 hours, it was blowing a Force 6-7 with gusts of Force 8 and the seas were heaping up and breaking all around us. In 30 years of sailing, I had never been in conditions like it. There were no ports available for us to head into safely, so there was nothing we could do except continue. We had reduced sail to the minimum possible our next option were tactics we had only read about in books. It was unbelievably difficult to make any food, so we were surviving on crisprolls and bottled water. I have never held off for so long on going for a pee because it was just too much like hard work to go down below with the boat lurching about. I was terrified, it was so far beyond my comfort zone and yet I had never felt so alive. The whole "present moment" thing was very much my reality.

Anyway, we surfed on top of a wave and saw an oil tanker on our beam. It was close, but we were not on a collision course. But then, it turned and was heading straight for us, about a mile away but in those conditions that is nothing. Dad called them up on the radio, but there was no response and we knew that they would be unlikely to see a small white yacht in the breaking waves. So, we had to change our own course, which meant greater wind forces on the sails and going at a much more dangerous angle to the waves. We really thought our time had come. Obviously, I am writing this now, so we managed to get clear, but I have never felt so much in danger than I did for that half hour. It took 16 hours before the wind died down, but there were still no safe ports to head into so we sailed on for another 24 hours. We were so tired that we were taking it in turns to sleep for an hour, then coming on the helm for an hour.

On reflection, there were many valuable recovery illustrations in that experience. We survived because we were prepared and so the decisions we made were sensible. We had faith in our plan and faith in our abilities. Being scared was understandable, but there was no panic. We knew what to do based on our previous experiences and the information that we had gathered over the years - information that was given to us by people who had been through the same situation and passed on their experiences. And the boat was coping fine. She's a great sea-going yacht anyway, but it's good to have the proof. There's another metaphor in there somewhere. I kept remembering the Just for Today card where it says "I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime". And the fact that I can cook a beautiful 3 course dinner in a well appointed kitchen or that I can change a car tyre in 5 minutes meant nothing in those conditions. Pouring a glass of water or safely having a pee were the skills I needed at that precise moment. Our world got very small. Whilst it wasn't quite the survival situation that those guys faced in the Andes, we were one breaking wave or one popped mast fitting away from it being so.

And you know what? My comfort zone is now a whole lot bigger. I know that the boat, my dad and I can survive that. We learned some more lessons but being in that situation will be easier next time. And there will be a next time.....we are heading across the Atlantic at the end of the year.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:42 PM
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WOW Bolina!

Please stock up on the crisp rolls and do tell us about your exciting adventures!
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:56 PM
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Wow, what a thrilling, terrifying adventure! I thought towing a car with a moving van and breaking down outside Salt Lake City was scary. You do learn you can do things you never wanted to do, dreamed you would have to do or believed you could do, don't you? Are you hoping for more adventure when you set sail across the Atlantic? Is the weather good for sailing in the winter? Bolt a chamber pot to the deck.
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