With dangerous wildlife, extreme weather, and unforgivable terrain, Alaska is no place to find yourself stranded. In truth, many have lost their lives trying to survive long enough to be rescued while very few live to tell the tale. Be prepared for your hair to stand on end as we reveal to you some of the most terrifying and harrowing survival stories from those who’ve found themselves at odds with the unforgivable wild of Alaska and won.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1) Three men against an avalanche... only one survives.
Colby Coombs and his two close friends took to Mount Foraker in attempt to create a new direct finish up the Pink Panther Route. A storm moved in as they began their ascent and an avalanche knocked the climbers back down the mountain. Coombs woke dangling from his rope with multiple broken bones throughout his body. He saw one of his two companions nearby swinging from their rope but discovered he was dead. A day passed before Coombs found the body of his second companion as he picked his way slowly back down the face of the mountain. He was lucky to have survived the return trip as he had no supplies and could've easily fallen into a crevasse or given in to his terrible injuries.
2) A family finds themselves wounded in a plane crash.
The Evans family survived a terrible plane crash just west of McGrath Alaska. The last thing Donald, the father and husband, recalls about the crash was yelling to the pilot to pull up before crashing into the wilderness. The pilot didn't survive and neither did a school teacher who had also been aboard the bush plane with them. After coming to, Donald's back, legs, feet, and jaw were all broken. He pulled himself from his seat to find his wife, who was two months pregnant, bleeding from the mouth, his daughter who had been flung 20 feet from the plane with a broken arm and severed intestines, and his son, who was still alive but being crushed by the floorboards of the plane. Despite his injuries Donald was able to free his son from under the plane, drag his daughter back to shelter and keep them all awake as they waited for rescue. To make things worse, as evening approached wolves began howling nearby causing his family to scream in fear. It wasn't until the following morning that Donald and his family were rescued and taken to the nearby hospital. Everyone survived, and seven months later his wife gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl.
3) These teens barely survive a bear attack.
In the Talkeetna Mountains just outside of Anchorage, a group of teens were wrapping up their 30-day survival course when a grizzly attacked. It was the first day they were allowed to go out without adult supervision, and as they rounded a bend in the river, one of the teens spotted the bear and started shouting. The bear pounced on him first. Three of the seven escaped unharmed while the other four suffered from severe wounds before a rescue team reached them.
4) Just when this hunter thought it couldn't get any worse...
A hunter and his partner traveled by boat to an island near the Misty Fjords Monument off the coast near Ketchikan. The hunter successfully shot a grizzly bear and the two men hauled his harvest to their skiff. The hunter waited on shore as his partner took the load to their larger boat anchored a half-mile off shore before coming back for him. However, night fell and his partner never returned. Aware that something must have gone terribly wrong, the hunter prepared himself to be stranded alone overnight in the wilderness. The hunter spent five days alone before things turned from bad to worse - a storm rolled in and drenched the hunter who was already suffering from starvation and dehydration. As the seventh day approached he nearly gave up all hope and etched a farewell note on his rifle before a helicopter passed nearby and saw the hunter stranded on the shore. His wife received a call hours later that her husband was safe and well.
5) A man survives after breaking through thin ice.
An Alaskan man was traveling by snowmobile when thin ice broke below his machine and he fell into icy waters. The man had lost his father years prior to a similar accident and he refused to leave his own children the same way. He fought to pull himself from the waters and continued his 30-mile trek to find help. As the injured man continued to walk, a large wolverine began stalking him. As night fell he found a wooden box he crawled into for shelter and safety. On his third day surviving the bitter cold the man heard a nearby search team and screamed until they came to his rescue. Luckily he only suffered from frostbite.
6) A son helplessly watches his father struggle in freezing waters.
A son and his father were kayaking out on Mendenhall Lake when the father unfortunately flipped his kayak. Unable to board his sinking kayak, the father clung to his sons raft in the freezing cold waters contemplating what his last words should be when a helicopter arrived to save his life. Apparently a person at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center spotted his flipped kayak in one of the telescopes and reported it to a staff member. If the father had not been spotted, he would have lost his life in the center of that freezing cold lake.
7) A snow drift buries a man in his truck.
Clifton Vial was driving outside of Nome Alaska when a snow drift completely buried his truck. Knowing his clothes were not warm enough to allow him to dig out and make it to town safely, he decided to wait it out in his truck. With only two beers to drink and a light fleece blanket to wrap himself in, he had to survive 60 hours before being rescued. In the end he lost 16 lbs.!
8) His owner dies but this dog doesn't give up.
Greg Clark was boating with his black lab, Brick, off the southeastern coast of Alaska when his boat struck rocks and began to sink. Clark's body was never found and no one bothered to look for Brick. It wasn't until a month later when a friend of Clark's was boating through the same area and saw what he thought was a black wolf on the shore. It didn't take long for him to realize it was Brick, Clark's black lab, and when he called his name, the dog leaped into the water and swam out to his boat. Despite being injured and malnourished, Brick survived for 30 days alone in the Alaskan wilderness.
9) One dog sacrifices all for the survival of its owner.
Near Haines, Alaska, a woman walking her four dogs was approached and observed by a desperate and hungry looking wolf. She wanted to keep her dogs safe from the wolf, so she gave it some distance and turned back toward home. Suddenly, one of the dogs barked to alert her of the wolf's presence. The wolf was barely 20 feet behind her and the dogs. Silently it lunged and pinned down each of her dogs before backing off and attacking again. The woman swung her hiking pole at the wolf and struck it several times but it kept challenging the dogs. It did not snarl or bite, it simply tested the waters until finally pinning down the smaller dog of the group, a collie mutt. Before the wolf could do any damage, Mason, the largest of the dogs attacked and the wolf turned taking Mason by the throat and killed him in an instant. From that point he started eating his kill and no longer paid any attention to the group of dogs or the hiker, they made it to safety while Mason did not.
Which of these stories shocks you most? What other survival stories can you add to this list?