During their westward trek out of the mountains, Canessa tells Nando he sees a road to the east; nevertheless they continue towards the west. A 2005 expedition recreating their journey from the crash site confirmed that Canessa was actually correct and what he saw was indeed a road.
A script for this story was kicking around Hollywood from 1981. The subject matter (cannibalism) and a schlocky Mexican adaptation Survive! (1976) (Survive!) were the two main factors for keeping it off the screen until 1993.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the film, the arrival of the rescue helicopters comes as an overwhelming surprise to the survivors in the fuselage. In real life, they actually heard in the news on their radio that Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa had reached safety. The survivors then prepared for the arrival of the rescuers by putting on the best clothes they could find, and even brushing their teeth and combing their hair.
For the critical scene in which the fateful decision to eat the dead is made, the actors involved all fasted for two days to give them a level of understanding of what the real survivors must have felt.
Director Frank Marshall was discussing the film on his car phone, when he was cut off by a truck with a bumper sticker that read "Rugby Players Eat Their Dead". Frank Marshall decided to make the film, saying "You have to go with those kinds of things."
At the end of the film there are 17 survivors. However, there were only 16 survivors of the crash that the film is based on. The real-life counterpart of the character "Hugo Diaz" died in the avalanche.
The names of the people who died in the crash were changed for the film. There were three exceptions, Nando Parrado's mother and sister, Eugenia Parrado and Susana Parrado respectively, and Javier Methol's wife, Lilliana Methol.