Looking to join a truly one-of-a-kind mountaineering trip? There may be no more unique treks than the survivor-lead expedition to the crash site of Uruguay AF Flight 571, the incident immortalized by the 1993 Ethan Hawk/John Malkovich film “Alive!”
Flight 571 was specially chartered to ferry 45 rugby team members and their associates across the Andes mountain range of South America. Departing from Montevideo, Uruguay, they’d never make it to their match in Chile. Beset by clouds, the pilots underestimated their distance from Santiago and began to descend into the mountains.
The pilots wouldn’t survive their error. Their Fairchild FH 227 first impacted a 13,800 foot outcropping with their right wing, completely tearing it from the body of the plane. A second peak tore off the other wing shortly thereafter, leaving the wingless fuselage to hit the ground and slid down the steep mountainside.
Crash Site: Google Earth
Though only a quarter of the passengers died in the initial crash, others soon began to die of their injuries and the cold, leaving just 27. Eight more were killed in an avalanche, and only sixteen would ultimately survive.
With little food, no firewood and living in the otherwise harsh conditions at 12,000 feet, the survivors were forced to eat parts of their deceased companions. After learning from their radio that the search had been ended, two men braved ten days of extreme conditions as they trekked down the mountain to notify authorities of the surviving passengers. The last of the passengers were rescued 72 days after the crash.
Want to see the site for yourself? Survivor Eduardo Strauch and Boulder, Colorado based Alpine Expeditions now offers regular yearly tours to the crash site, where much of the wrecked plane still remains.