Hiking the Andes is hard…just in normal circumstances. But what about trudging along the great mountains after a plane crash, bracing temperatures well below zero, your friends’ lives on the line?
In 1972, Robert Canessa and his Uruguayan rugby teammates crash-landed into the Andes. His book, I Had to Survive, chronicles the 79 days that the group fought to stay alive–some luckier than others. Canessa, along with two other teammates, resolved to make a 10 day trek to find help.
This story would be enough to fill an entire book on its own, but the remarkable aspects don’t end there. Canessa says the experience had profound affects on his life; it was amidst the brutal cold, watching his friends suffer, that he felt the calling to devote his life to saving others. He is now one of the world’s leading pediatric cardiologists.
The book looks at tragedy almost artfully–dealing with the extreme events in the Andes, then shifting to the pain and endurance parents of newborns with heart problems must endure. Yes, the book is, at points, hard to read; the things asked of these people, the decisions they had to make, aren’t easily imagined. But Canessa somehow manages to bring it all back to hope. To how we can all make a difference.
Thanks for reading.