25 Terrifying Tales & Facts About Adventure Athletes

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1Aleksander Doba

Aleksander Doba is a Polish kayaker who is known primarily for his long voyages across oceans. He kayaked across the Atlantic Ocean under his own power on three separate occasions. He completed his last crossing at the age of 70. His passages remain the longest open-water kayak voyages ever made.


2. In 1897, 3 Swedes attempted to be the first people to reach the North Pole. They traveled by a hot air balloon but crashed after 65 hours. 33 years later, a ship discovered their camp, along with their dead bodies, journal, and camera. They'd survived for weeks by killing and eating polar bears.


3. A German woman named Ewa Wiśnierska was surprised by a thunderstorm while paragliding. She was sucked up by a cumulonimbus cloud to an altitude of 10 km (33,000 feet). She survived temperatures of -50°C and extreme oxygen deprivation at a height higher than the Mount Everest.


4. Anna Bagenholm survived the lowest body temperature ever recorded at 56.7°F (13.7°C). She had been skiing when she fell through a frozen stream and became stuck for 80 minutes. Despite being clinically dead, she made a full recovery and is now working at the same hospital that saved her life.


5. A mountaineer named Ricardo Peña found a wallet in the Andes mountain range. It was swung out of a plane, which crashed in 1972. Realizing the owner of the wallet (Eduardo Strauch) was one of the 16 survivors, he returned it to him, 32 years later.


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6Dyatlov Pass incident

In 1959, 9 experienced Russian hikers who were trying to cross the Dyatlov Pass mysteriously died in the freezing Ural Mountains after fleeing their tent. Most were in their underwear, 1 had a fractured skull and another had tongue and eyes missing. The circumstances around their death remain a mystery to this day.


7. While Erin Langworthy was bungee jumping 360 feet above the Zambezi river, the cord broke and she was forced to swim the raging waters with her feet tied together, at one point diving to free the rope from debris.


8. In 2011, two Nepali men named Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsering Sherpa climbed Mount Everest and then proceeded to paraglide off of the summit, landing 35 km away. They then hiked and kayaked to the Bay of Bengal, winning the pair National Geographic Adventurers of the Year.


9. A 66-year-old hiker named Geraldine Largay became lost on the Appalachian Trail, kept a journal documenting her 26-day ordeal before succumbing to lack of food and exposure. She got lost when she left the trail to go to the bathroom. In one entry, she pleaded “When you find my body, please call my husband and daughter.”


10. The most G force a person has survived was in the 2003 Chevy 500 when the car driven by Kenny Bräck made contact with Tomas Scheckter's car. This immediately resulted in Bräck's car impacting the catch fence that would record a peak of 214 g meaning he weighed 30000 lbs for a few seconds.


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11Rainer Schimpf

A man named Rainer Schimpf was snorkeling off the coast of South Africa when an enormous Bryde's whale scooped him up in his mouth headfirst. The man felt pressure on his body but soon realized he was too big for the whale to swallow him whole which was "kind of an instant relief." The whale spat him out unharmed.


12. A man named William Dean Sullivan attempted to board a cruise ship by bungee jumping off a bridge as it sailed below. He miscalculated the speed and suffered minor head injuries when he bounced off the ship’s tennis court, volleyball net, and a deck railing before being left dangling in mid-air as the ship sailed away.


13. A man named Oscar Speck kayaked from Germany to Australia between 1932-1939 only to arrive and be detained as a Prisoner Of War due to the outbreak of World War 2.


14. Professional cyclists pee while cycling to save time, but are fined, if it is in front of spectators or cameras.


15. Tim Macartney-Snape is one of the first mountaineers to climb Everest without oxygen. Afterward, someone said to him "You didn't climb Everest. You only climbed the top part." So he went down to the beach in India and re-did the whole thing.


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16Erden Eruç

Erden Eruç took 5 years and 11.5 days of rowing, kayaking, hiking, and cycling to become the first person in history to complete an entirely solo and entirely human-powered circumnavigation of the globe. The route he followed was 66,299 km (41,196 miles) long.


17. In 1968, big wave surfer Eddie Aikau was selected to be the first lifeguard at Waimea beach in Oahu. Not a single person died during his time as a lifeguard and he rescued over 500 people.


18. In 1989, a scuba diver named William Lamm was sucked up by an intake pipe of a nuclear power plant, dragged over 1,600 feet, and deposited in one of the reactor cooling ponds. He lived.


19. In 2016, a Forest Service Officer named Brad Treat took a blind turn while mountain biking at 30 mph. He crashed into a large grizzly bear that was sitting on the trail and was immediately mauled to death in response to the collision.


20. Erik Weihenmayer is a blind rock climber who uses prosthetic "eyes" that translate images to electrical impulses he feels on his tongue. He became the only blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 25, 2001.


21Jan Davis

On October 23, 1999, BASE jumper and stuntwoman Jan Davis made a protest jump off El Capitan in Yosemite National Park to lift Yosemite's BASE jumping ban. She died in the process. The ban remains intact.


22. A surfer named Todd Endris was once attacked by a white shark. Dolphins came to his rescue, by forming a protective ring around him, keeping the shark from chomping off the flesh from his leg to the bone, and by getting him to shore safely.


23. American rock climber Alex Honnold holds the speed record for free climbing up a 2,900 foot Yosemite Valley mountain called "The Nose" in just 2 hours and 23 minutes without the use of ropes, safety harnesses or any other protective gear.


24. One of the longest canoe trip every taken was 12,182 miles from Winnipeg, Canada all the way to the mouth of the Amazon River in Belém, Brazil. It took a father and his sons, 23 months to complete the journey.


25. In 1944, a Finnish ski commando named Aimo Koivunen escaped from pursuing Russians by taking 30 pills of Pervitin. He skied for 400 kilometers in -20°C temperatures with no food and ammunition, got injured by a landmine, and had a pulse rate of 200 beats per minute by the time he was found.

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