An extraordinary story stands behind Pedro Algorta; a story that uncovers themes of hope, desperation and tragedy, as well as the incredible strength and power of the human mindset.
Among 16 survivors of the Uruguayan Airforce Flight 571 which crashed in the remote Andes in 1972, Pedro and his fellow survivors would have to fight starvation and freezing cold conditions to survive. The story has since prompted a bestselling book and Hollywood film, Alive and seen Pedro give a keynote speech at a TEDx talk.
On tour with Uruguayan rugby team, Old Christians, Pedro and his teammates' plane crashed into the side of a mountain after the pilot had begun his descent into Santiago too early, while they were still high in the mountains. As they were thrown forward with force, he watched as his friends died around him in gruesome fashion, while others fell victim to the conditions, had broken legs and significant injuries.
Surrounded by darting, jagged mountains, at 4000m, the team were faced with the saddest and toughest of ethical dilemmas when they were forced to eat their dead friends in order to survive. Asking themselves whether it was worth it and overcoming extreme sadness, the group grappled with hardship, but did what they needed to do to survive.
Other methods of survival saw the group skin the seats of the plane to make blankets, insulation from the kitchen to make sleeping bags, making snowshoes from the bottom of seats, draining infections and melting snow using aluminium sheets from the backs of seats.
The sixteen survivors would make it out alive having fed on the flesh of their dead family and friends preserved in the snow of the Andes, as well as battled an avalanche. Frightened and saddened by their extreme experiences, the group fought off hardship to survive 72 days before a ten day trek from members of the group brought help and they were rescued by helicopter.
On that mountain, Pedro and his friends learned a series of lessons about the preciousness of life, the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity. Having since graduated Stanford, Pedro speaks and participates in Q&As all over the world. He has spoken at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a TEDx conference, as well as a number of businesses and organisations.