Maybe it’s hitting the slopes to take advantage of freshly fallen powder on a remote mountainside, exploring an underwater cave, or sailing the sea that’ll have you face unthinkable obstacles. From expanses of ocean, the crush of ice, and the unbelievable feeling of being absolutely alone, here are some of the most spectacular survival stories we’ve ever heard.
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After soccer practice in June 2018, 12 members of a Thai soccer team and their coach decided to explore the nearby Tham Luang cave, one of Thailand’s longest.
The boys, ages 11 through 16, and their coach, 25, waded into the waters and began exploring the cave. When a flash flood came, they pushed deeper inside, eventually making their way to an elevated platform four kilometers into the cave system. The flood filled the twisted cave system with water, trapping the boys for 17 days. For the first nine days, they had no food, and relied on dripping stalactites for water. But they didn’t sit and wait.
Realizing they were trapped, the boys took turns digging a 16-foot hole into the cave wall, hoping to find a way out. They meditated to save energy and to avoid thinking about foot. Then, British divers who had set out from the cave’s entrance three hours prior happened upon the boys.
Surviving that long was only half the battle, though. Thai Seals entered the cave to help and hang out with the boys as rescuers planned how to extricate them safely. Over the course of a three-day mission, divers retrieved each player and their coach.
The arduous journey to the surface required each boy to wear a full-face diving mask, be tethered between two divers, and swim for hours through turns and exceedingly tight squeezes. Thanks to the efforts of Thai Navy Seals and the international dive community, all survived and were able to quickly return to a normal, healthy life after the rescue.
Tragically, one former Thai Navy Seal died in the rescue effort.