10 Insane Adventures Ever Happened

Last updated on April 3rd, 2023 at 05:52 pm

People who partake in risky and extreme activities in the harshest environments on earth fascinate us. 

These courageous people must meet great physical, psychological, and interpersonal challenges whether in the arctic or desert, on top of a mountain, in space, in the air, on an ocean, or underwater.

What is it like to live, work, and play in the world’s toughest areas, and what types of people do such surroundings attract? 

These are our top ten picks for books by and about those who live extraordinary lives.

1. The Worst Trip in the Universe by Apsley CherryGarrard (Vintage, 2010; initially released in 1922)

The Shadow of Historic Polar Exploration on Contemporary Arctic Affairs | The Arctic Institute – Center for Circumpolar Security Studies
Image courtesy of

The “worst journey” was an incredible feat of endurance performed by Captain Scott’s expedition members the winter before, not his final, doomed journey to the South Pole in 1912. 

In order to harvest penguin eggs, Cherry-Garrard, and two friends hauled heavy sledges through Antarctica for five weeks in the dark, evading crevasses and temperatures so low their teeth snapped. 

The terrifying tale of Cherry-dramatic Garrard’s trip is aptly considered the best.

2. James Tabor’s Blind Descent: The Search for the Deepest Place on Earth (2003’s Random House)

A 'Blind Descent' Into The Deepest Caves On Earth : NPR
Image courtesy of

If you have never heard of visiting the deepest and longest caverns in the world, Tabor’s story will enlighten, amuse, and frighten you. 

The men and women who participate in an activity that is possibly more hazardous and challenging than climbing Everest are introduced to us in the film Blind Descent. 

Discover how they deal with psychological challenges like claustrophobia, anxiety, hallucinations, and the horror of being hopelessly trapped underground, in addition to physical dangers like asphyxiation, freezing, premature burial, and venomous bats.

Read: Fall in Love with Glamping: 7 Breathtaking Destinations

3. Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands (Penguin Classics; 1959 debut; 2007 reprint)

The Post-Victorianism of Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands (1959) | The  Victorian Sage
Image courtesy of thevictoriansage

After the Second World War, ex-SAS member Thesiger moved to the Arabian Peninsula’s deserts. 

He struggled with heat and cold, hunger and thirst, dread, and boredom as he traveled with Bedouin Arabs through the huge, isolated, and dangerous Empty Quarter. 

Yet the severe pressure is wearing considerably more, he said.

“I was to discover how difficult it is to live among people… in the quiet of the desert, how easy it is to be driven to mindless rage by the importunities and improvidence,” said the author.

4. Craig Ryan’s Spectacular Failure: Free Fall from the Edge of Space (2003’s Smithsonian Institution Press)

I Jumped From Space (World Record Supersonic Freefall) - YouTube
Image courtesy of

Nicholas Piantanida attempted three attempts at a stratospheric leap from a capsule underneath a helium-filled balloon fifty years before Felix Baumgartner. Alan Eustace set records for the highest freefall. 

Being a civilian, he could not access US Air Force resources, so he became a “one-man research program,” procuring materials, building the capsule, and devising a training routine. 

On his last try, he unintentionally deflated his helmet while climbing. He suffered catastrophic brain damage due to gas bubbles that formed in his body due to the abrupt pressure decrease. 

Ryan gives a compelling portrayal of a thoughtful, brave, tenacious, and competent guy.

Read: Pack These 9 Gadgets for an Unforgettable Road Trip Adventure

5. Tim Ecott’s Neutral Buoyancy (Penguin, 2002)

Ecott’s investigation takes us through the development of diving, highlighting individuals fascinated by the underwater world and outlining the dangers they faced. 

For example, John Day toiled for months building a wooden “submarine” that he meant to inhabit on the seafloor.

In 1774, he and his new home were set free into Plymouth Sound, and they were never again seen. “Few men can have worked so long and hard on creating their coffin,” comments Ecott.

6. David Rose and Edward Douglas’ Regions of the Heart (2000)

UKH Articles - Mountain Literature Classics: Regions of the Heart
Image courtesy of UKHillwalking

When the British climber Alison Hargreaves died on K2 in 1995, many observers exploded with moral fury, criticizing her choice to climb such a risky mountain while she had two little children at home. 

This frank yet compassionate account demonstrates that the climb of K2 was no vanity endeavor. Being the family’s only provider and a skilled climber, Hargreaves was ascending for her children’s future. 

She was a skilled climber with numerous first ascents, so she was not careless either. Douglas and Rose assist us in comprehending the nuanced reality hidden behind the headlines.

Read: 12 Must-Have Accessories for Your Next Camping Trip

7. Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall’s The Mysterious Final Cruise of Donald Crowhurst (2003’s Hodder & Stoughton)

Book Review: The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin  & Ron Hall – Fair Winds & Following Seas

In 1968 Crowhurst entered a non-stop, solo round-the-world sailboat race. He lacked the boat and the knowledge necessary to make such a voyage, but he had bet his house, company, and pride on success. 

Crowhurst appeared to make remarkable progress but never left the Atlantic. His fabricated readings and progression into psychosis were both documented in his logs. 

His empty boat was discovered floating eight months after leaving. Tomalin and Hall’s sympathetic portrayal follows the circumstances leading to Crowhurst’s suicide.

8. Susan Casey’s The Wave: In Search of the Ocean’s Biggest Furies (Vintage, 2011)

Studying And Surfing The Ocean's Monster Waves : NPR
Image courtesy of

A compelling read is Susan Casey’s best-selling description of large waves and the people who seek them. 

Big-wave surfers with experience say that rather than dying, they fear “getting pummeled so badly that psychologically you do not recover.” 

Oceanographers on a somber scientific expedition to Iceland were familiar with the sensation; they endured a week of brutal storms that caused windows to break, equipment to be thrown around their onboard labs, and the ship to hover on the crests of 80-foot waves before plunging “into this enormous hole in the sea below.”

Read: 15 Best Camping spots we found in North Carolina

9. Joe Simpson’s text Touching the Void (Vintage, 1997)

Review: Touching the Void - Slant Magazine
Image courtesy of slantmagazine

After being abandoned for dead in an Andean chasm, Simpson’s narrative of how he pulled himself to safety has rightfully become a climbing classic. 

A moving account of extreme survival that depicts with brutal honesty the physical and psychological traumas of three days spent in excruciating agony, starving and dehydrated, all while being plagued by the fear that the base camp will be deserted. 

While Simpson acknowledged that the book “still falls short of capturing exactly how horrible were some of those lonely days,” it remains a horrifying account. 

I could not find the words to explain the full misery of the experience.”

10. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (Macmillan, 2013)

Aiming to be a zero. In Chris Hadfield's book, An… | by Chris Cloud | Medium
Image courtesy of medium

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield does a good job of integrating the teachings of space into daily life on earth. 

Work hard, place a high value on learning, keep things in perspective, and never forget that the journey is more important than the result. 

Try to be kind as well. As Hadfield notes, no one wants to go into space with a jerk. Sage counsel, indeed.




We don’t spam! Only Important Stuff.

Write A Comment