Travels from Colorado, USA
Eduardo Strauch's speaking fee falls
within range: $10,000 to $15,000
Eduardo Strauch is one of the few survivors of the most grueling and miraculous tale of endurance of our time. In 1972 he was one of 45 passengers on a flight from Uruguay to Chile, when the plane crashed in the highest peaks of the Andes, stranding the remaining living passengers at altitudes of over 11,800 ft. with little food, no source of heat, and no supplies appropriate for the harsh conditions. The survivors, many of whom had serious injuries, passed an extraordinary 72 days together before they were finally able to make contact with the outside world, a risky endeavor that led to their monumental rescue.
One of the few people in the world to have lived such an unimaginable experience, Eduardo did not speak about the events that occurred in the mountains for over 30 years until 2005 when a mountaineer hiking at the crash site recovered Eduardo’s jacket, wallet, and other belongings. Reunited with his possessions, he decided it was important to share how he and the other survivors came together to stay alive. To date he has traveled across four continents to impart the incredible story of how sixteen young men responded to tragedy and extremely stressful circumstances with hope, selflessness, cooperation, perseverance, and courage.
Eduardo Strauch was born on the 13th of August, 1947, in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he lives today. He has been married since 1979, and has five children.
From a young age he dabbled in painting and sculpture, but he did not pursue them at that time, in order to devote himself to the study and practice of architecture. For more than 40 years he has been designing and supervising the construction of buildings, primarily family homes in Montevideo, in the country, and in the summer coastal resort areas.
He has a passion for travel and for nature, which are the source of the inspiration for his artistic creations. In 2008 he decided to take up painting again, joining Sergio Viera’s “Taller Cruz del Sur.” In 1972, while traveling to Santiago, Chile, accompanying the Stella Maris College alumni rugby team, the plane crashed in the middle of the Andes. This difficult experience, in which the group was kept isolated for 72 days under the most inhospitable conditions imaginable, at 12,000 feet, was a turning point in his life. This was the start of a process, at age 25, which would become another source for his creativity.
Currently he continues his work in architecture and paints at his studio in the countryside, preparing works for exhibitions in Uruguay and abroad. He also travels internationally, giving motivational talks about his experience in the Andes.
Eduardo Strauch gives his chilling but ultimately triumphant account of the 1972 Andes Mountains plane crash and the “new society” that he and the other survivors formed for the following 72 days until they were rescued. He details their ingenuity, describing how they utilized metal from the plane to melt snow into drinking water and crafted blankets from the seat covers to protect against nighttime temperatures of -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
He also opens up on the most difficult decisions they had to make in consensus, namely consuming the flesh of the dead when they had no other source of protein left. “In an incredible moving meeting we had just inside the fuselage, we offered each other, ‘If I die, you use my body to live. If you die, I use your body to live,’” he recalls.
Regarding the group dynamic in such pressing conditions, Eduardo remarks, “You might think about the disagreements and the fights, but we knew that we must spend our energy just on overcoming those challenges and we couldn’t spend our energy on disagreements and fights.”
Whether delivering his presentation in his second language (English) or his native tongue of Spanish, Eduardo conveys a powerful message of survival and triumph of the human spirit in perhaps some of the most trying circumstances possible. His true life story of how he and fifteen other young men banded together to create a social structure 11,800 ft. in the mountains is truly a testimony to the potential that humanity possesses to cooperate and solve problems under the most stressful conditions imaginable.
Thirty years of silence and reflection on the odyssey in the Andes has allowed Eduardo to analyze the facts from a mature perspective, and with the intention of transmitting his experience to others, he gives a motivating message about facing adverse circumstances and enduring everyday difficulties.
The name of the conference is not unintentional. It refers to the sign which Eduardo Strauch kept as a souvenir. The sign indicated the exit in the Fairchild plane and Eduardo had assumed that the door, and that "EXIT" indicator would be the way out, but the true way out had to be found throughout each of those 72 days.
Piers Paul Read, in his book ALIVE, previous to the foreword, thanks everybody who helped to reconstruct the story. He starts with the testimonies given by the survivors and at the end of these acknowledgements he says: “...When I returned (to Montevideo) in October 1973 to show them the manuscript of this book, some of them (the survivors) were disappointed by my presentation of their story. They felt that the faith and friendship that inspired them in the cordillera do not emerge from these pages. It was never my intention to underestimate these qualities, but perhaps it would be beyond the skill of any writer to express their own appreciation of what they lived through.”
The EXIT conference is rich in human, philosophical and sociological aspects. It fills the emptiness that Piers Paul Read, with honest humility, acknowledges as the limitation of any writer to express an experience of such magnitude.
EXIT highlights the important fact that leadership and a natural need for organization appeared when the survivors faced a limit circumstance and needed to reach an aim. Eduardo calls this phenomenon “The new society”, characterized by the principles that regard the supreme value of life and the wish to preserve it. The new society valued faith, hope, friendship, solidarity, work, discipline, leadership, will and perseverance. There was no place for other values in the new society.
EXIT is a suitable conference for those who must overcome personal or professional challenges. It encourages the audience to incorporate to their daily lives lessons of leadership, motivation, planification and strategy.
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