And You Thought 'The Mountain Between Us' Was Unconquerable: Five Unbelievable Real-Life Survival Stories

And You Thought 'The Mountain Between Us' Was Unconquerable: Five Unbelievable Real-Life Survival Stories
Promotional consideration provided by FOX

It's a harrowing thought, being isolated somewhere in the wild, fighting against the odds to survive. The thought alone is enough to get one's adrenaline pumping, so it's no coincidence that the silver screen is filled with films about surviving nature's devastation.

On October 6, Hany Abu-Assad's film The Mountain Between Us will join the ranks of survival thrillers as it tells the story of a doctor (Idris Elba) and photojournalist (Kate Winslet) stranded in the wilderness of Utah following a plane crash. Based on Charles Martin's novel of the same name, the film chronicles their attempts to survive and find rescue.

Though The Mountain Between Us is a work of fiction, it's not as far-fetched as you might think: Throughout history, people have endured the world's worst natural disasters and freak accidents, proving the tenacity of the human spirit in the process. Here are five of Exclaim!'s favourites.

A Whale of a Time

In a bid to give their children some life experience, dairy farmers Dougal and Lyn Robertson sold their farm to buy a wooden schooner, in which they took their four children to travel the world. Seventeen months into their voyage, they were attacked by killer whales while sailing the Galapagos. The six — plus hitchhiking student Robin Williams (no relation to the comedian of the same name) — took refuge on an inflatable raft. They ran out of rations six days in, after which they ate turtles and drank their blood; they hid in the boat's dinghy once the raft became unusable. After 38 days on the dinghy, they were rescued by a Japanese fishing boat.

Yes We Cannibal

Canadian bush pilot Marten Hartwell was in the midst of evacuating three passengers — a pregnant woman, a 14-year-old boy with appendicitis and a nurse — from Cambridge Bay to a hospital in Yellowknife when his plane crashed, killing the nurse on impact and the pregnant lady dying hours later from injuries sustained in the crash. Hartwell was seriously injured, breaking both ankles and one knee, but was tended to by the 14-year-old boy, David Kootook, who foraged for food and built them fire and shelter. Though Hartwell sustained himself by eating the nurse's flesh, Kootook refused, and died of starvation three weeks after the crash.

Thirty-one days after the crash, Hartwell was found by the Canadian Forces, who had picked up the plane's emergency beacon. Hartwell greeted his rescuers with, "Welcome to the camp of a cannibal." The story was immortalized in Stompin' Tom Connors' song "The Marten Hartwell Story," which makes no reference to cannibalism. Following his rescue, Hartwell made a full recovery; he died in 2013 at age 88.

Gold Diggers

Following a stint in the Israeli Navy, 22-year-old Yossi Ghinsberg travelled to South America to explore the Amazon jungle. On his travels, he met Swiss teacher Marcus Stamm, Austrian geologist Karl Ruprechter and American photographer Kevin Gale, and the quartet followed Ruprechter's search for gold in an Indigenous village. However, upon discovering that Ruprechter was actually a criminal, not a geologist, the group went their separate ways. Gale and Ghinsberg built a raft, but were separated after Ghinsberg fell down a waterfall.

After being unable to find Gale, Ghinsberg was stranded in the jungle, where he was bitten by numerous bugs, nearly drowned, caught a devastating foot fungus and suffered from starvation and dehydration. Three weeks after being stranded, Ghinsberg was found by a rescue mission led by Gale, who had been rescued by local fishermen five days after being separated from Ghinsberg. After three months in the hospital, Ghinsberg made a full recovery; Stamm and Ruprechter were never seen again. Ghinsberg's ordeal will be chronicled in the upcoming film Jungle, where he will be played by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.

A Solo Voyage

Engaged couple Tami Oldham Ashcroft and Richard Sharp were avid sailors living on Sharp's sailboat, but took a detour from their endless cruising to deliver a 44-foot yacht from Tahiti to San Diego. Three weeks into their journey, they were caught in Hurricane Raymond, and the yacht was capsized in the storm. Sharp was thrown overboard, while Oldham Ashcroft survived, albeit injured. She rigged a makeshift sail and, using only a sextant and watch, sailed 1500 miles in 41 days, eventually reaching safety in Hawaii.

Disarmed and Dangerous

Avid mountain climber Aron Ralston was descending a canyon in Utah when he accidentally dislodged a boulder, smashing his left hand and pinning his right hand against the canyon wall. After being unable to free himself, Ralston, having consumed all of his food and water, carved his name into the canyon wall and recorded a goodbye message for his family.


Five days and seven hours after first being trapped, Ralston was finally able to free himself by amputating his forearm with a dull knife. He then escaped the canyon, where he found a vacationing family from the Netherlands who gave him food and water and called the authorities. Ralston had lost 40 pounds, including 25 per cent of his blood volume.

If this story sounds familiar, you've probably seen the big-screen adaptation, 127 Hours, starring James Franco as Ralston.

The Mountain Between Us is in theatres October 6 courtesy of Fox.