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Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

Who's the Ultimate Survivor?

We settle the debate with winner-takes-all smackdown: Meet history's true hard man.

by: Bruce Barcott

Is it Aron Ralston? (Photo by Blake Gordon)
Is it Aron Ralston? (Photo by Blake Gordon)

Does Aron Ralston's self-amputation beat Beck Weather's rise from the dead? Does Shackleton in the Antarctic trump Messner on Everest? We pick history's true hard man.

Click here to see the full PDF of The Ultimate Survivor Smackdown.

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May 15, 2012

A nice suggestion on Hugh Glass, but I'll agree to the Shakleton expedition (not just he, himself) as the ne plus ultra. But Joe Simpson ought to have advanced further than the first round.

J. Clifford
Jul 12, 2011

How in the world can Shackleton be considered the ultimate survivor since he died of a heart attack on an expedition?!!!

J. Clifford
Jul 12, 2011

How can Shackelton be the ultimate survivor if he died on an expedition?!!!!

Dec 16, 2008

I was very disappointed to read "The Ultimate Survivor" in the October '08 issue on two points.
While Aron Ralston's story is worth mentioning, it is not unheard of for a person to amputate a body part to survive. Add to that the fact that it was Ralston's own neglegence of basic outdoor climbing and hiking safety rules that got him in trouble in the first place and he should never had made it past your first round.
The second thing that disappointed me was the lack of even a mention of probably the greatest survival story in American history, that of Hugh Glass in the early 19th century. After being severely mauled by a grizzly bear, he was left for dead by his trapping party. When he regained consciuousness, Glass set his own broken leg, let maggots eat the dead flesh and infection from wounds in his back that left his ribs exposed, then dragged himself, crawled, limped, and otherwise made his way through 200 miles of hostile Indian territory, armed with only a razor, to the safety of a fort.
Read a bit about Glass' survival and I think you will agree that every story in your "Ultimate Survivor" article pales in comparison.


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