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  • January 2012
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True Tales of Snowy Terror

By mid-January, you can usually count on your Facebook newsfeed to be full of complaints about snow, sleet, and freezing cold temperatures. But in the last few weeks, Pittsburgh has been having some suspiciously spring-like days. As we settle in for winter’s late arrival, you could conjure up the cold yourself by digging into some chilling true stories of snowy terror & survival.

You’ve probably heard about the Donner Party—the group of wagon-training westbound pioneers who ended up snowbound in the mountains of California in 1846. Many of them died of cold and starvation, and the rest survived by eating the flesh of the dead. Get all the gritty details by picking up one of the many books on the subject available through CLP.

In The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, Daniel James Brown tells the true story of Sarah Graves, a twenty-one year-old girl who set out on the ill-fated voyage with her brand new husband. Brown recounts Sarah’s terrible downward spiral of a journey, from newly wedded bliss to cannibalism. Talk about a disappointing honeymoon.


If you’re into tales of struggle and survival, you could also check out the infamous story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes, leaving the survivors stranded in the snowy mountains to confront isolation, avalanches, and starvation.

Pick up a copy of the classic Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read to read all about it.


Not bone-chilling enough? Head over to Wikipedia and read about the utterly creepy Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959. Here’s the quick lowdown: nine hikers disappear in the snowy Russian mountains and it takes weeks before rescuers finally discover their bodies. BUT to this day, no one can figure out exactly what went down. It appears they had all settled in to sleep, only to wake in the night, rip open their tent from the inside, and take off running (barefoot!) into the subzero temperatures of the mountain wilderness. What mysterious force could have caused them to leave their sleeping bags for certain icy death? Bears…maybe? Abominable snowman?

Sadly no books on this one so far…looks like a job for some brave scholar of the future.

Stay warm!

Maggie, CLP Carrick

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