GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOOK MY PLACE – Nando Parrado woke from a coma three days after the Uruguayan air force plane carrying his rugby team to Santiago, Chile, crashed into the Andes at a height of almost 12,000 ft. Around him were the dead and dying including his mother and his dearly-loved sister Susie.
Miracle in the Andes, 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home, his electrifying account of the 72 days that followed takes us through almost unimaginable horror as the survivors move steadily towards starvation, learn that rescue attempts have been abandoned and are buried in an avalanche that kills eight more of them. Their survival depends on their functioning as a team, using the flesh of the dead for food and producing the water essential to survival.
Nando emerges as the leader and is convinced that he must direct an expedition to the west, since the survivors are persuaded that they had already crossed the mountain pass into Chile before the crash. With Roberto Canessa, with no experience of high-mountain climbing, with no appropriate equipment, weak and starving, he achieves the impossible, making his way to the summit of the mountain below which the wreck lies, then undertaking the ten-day walk through the hostile terrain to a point still a ten-hour ride from help, where they meet a herdsman.
This lucid and modest personal account of the story that we encountered forty years ago in Piers Paul Read’s Alive is a truly remarkable record of the determination, against all odds, of Nando not only to survive, but also to rescue the fourteen friends still stranded in a horrendous situation.