6. Jim Wickwire, the first American to summit Mount K2, was forced to spend a night at 27,000 feet on K2. He survived a solo bivouac in temperatures reaching -35 ºF.
Jim Wickwire had failed to climb above 22,000 feet in his first attempt to scale K2 in 1975. Three years later, he set on the expedition again with Louis Reichardt and reached the summit on September 6, 1978.
K2 has been named “Savage Mountain”, with the second-highest fatality rate and is among the highest mountains in the world. Of every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying.
After taking photographs at the summit, Wickwire quickly began his descent since he had climbed without any supplemental oxygen or even a headlamp. It started getting dark and Wickwire decided to spend the night at the spot he was then.
He did not have a tent, sleeping bag, or water. With his gas stove ran out, and his only protection was a thin nylon sack which he used to block the cold winds and somehow managed to pull through the night.
The next morning he was seen climbing down the mountain and was rushed to a medical facility. Wickwire had developed pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. He underwent lung surgery, lost part of his toes but survived to tell the tale. (source)
7. A Soviet scientist named Anatoli Bugorski stuck his head in a particle accelerator that sent a beam of protons traveling at nearly the speed of light straight through his head. He survived with only half of his face paralyzed and deafness in his left ear. He completed his Ph.D. shortly after that.
Anatoli Bugorski was a researcher at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, Russia. He worked with the largest particle accelerator in the Soviet Union, the U7 Synchrotron. On July 13th, 1978, Anatoli discovered a malfunction in the equipment and proceeded to check it out when suddenly all safety mechanisms failed.
His head came in the path of the 76 GeV proton beam. The beam entered through the back of his head and out through the left side of his nose. At this point, he had received a dose of 200,000 to 300,000 roentgen.
In the days that followed, the left side of Bugorski’s face had swollen up and his skin started peeling off. He maintained silence on the incident, but it was clear that he had received a fatal dose of radiation.
Bugorski was taken to a clinic in Moscow where despite all odds he survived. The left side of his face was paralyzed, and he lost hearing in the ear but continued to work as a particle physicist and eventually earned his Ph.D. (source)
8. Joan Murray fell to the ground at 80 mph in a skydiving accident after both her parachutes malfunctioned. She landed on several fire ants whose bites helped her to stay alive.
On September 25th, 1999, 47-year-old bank executive and skydiver, Joan Murray, took a one-hour drive to Chester, South Carolina, USA, in an attempt to skydive. She put on her gear and loaded the plane.
At 14,500 feet above the ground, Joan jumped out of the plane only to discover that her parachute was not working. She cut away the defective chute and pulled the chords of her reserve. Although the reserve chute opened, it wasn’t until 700 feet that it completely deployed.
Joan hit the ground at 80 mph and landed on a pit of fire ants. The ants bit her 200 times until the paramedics arrived. It was due to the ant bites that she was able to survive the shock as it kept her heart running.
She was rushed to the hospital and remained in a coma for two weeks. She underwent 20 reconstructive surgeries, 17 blood transfusions, and after spending six weeks in the hospital was finally able to stand. (1, 2)
9. A three-year-old girl named Karina Chikitova went missing for 11 days in the Siberian wilderness with her dog. She ate berries and drank water from the river to survive. At last, her dog found a way back to the village and guided the rescue team to her.
It was on July 27th, 2014 that three-year-old Karina Chikitova, accompanied by her dog Naida, started following her father, Rodion, without his knowledge. While doing so, she lost her way and ended up in Siberia’s Taiga Forest.
Both her parents, unaware that their child was missing, believed that she was with the other. Due to the poor network in the area, her mother only discovered that Karina had been missing after four days had already passed.
A search-and-rescue operation was then launched in the Siberian wilderness, an area inhabited by wolves and bears. When all hope had been lost, Naida returned home on the 9th day which prompted the rescue teams to double their efforts.
Eventually, Naida was able to guide the rescuers to the girl, who was found huddled in the tall grass without any serious injuries. Upon talking with the three-year-old, it was discovered that she had survived the wild by eating wild berries and drinking water from a river. (1, 2)
10.In 1990, British Airways pilot Tim Lancaster was sucked out of the cockpit after the windscreen malfunctioned. The crew onboard couldn’t pull him back in and he spent 20 minutes dangling outside of the aircraft. He suffered broken bones and severe frostbite but made full recovery.
On June 10th, 1990, British Airways Flight 5390 successfully took off from the Birmingham Airport. The flight ascended and reached an altitude of 23,000 feet when there was a loud bang as Air Steward Nigel Ogden entered the cockpit.
Two out of the six windscreens were shattered due to explosive decompression, and pilot Tim Lancaster was sucked out of the plane.
Nigel Ogden rushed in and grabbed his legs while co-pilot Alastair Atchison began an emergency descent. Atchison tried to make contact with the air traffic control and was finally given clearance to make an emergency landing at Southampton Airport.
Lancaster had suffered a fractured right arm and wrist, severe frostbite, and bruising while Ogden dislocated his shoulder, damaged his eye, and suffered frostbite on his face.
Upon investigation, it was revealed that the windscreen had been installed just 27 hours prior, and the bolts used were shorter in diameter than the standard. This caused the windscreen to tear apart as the bolts could not withstand the air pressure difference between the cockpit and outside atmosphere (1, 2)