Friday, September 18, 2009

Could You Cut Off Your Own Arm?

Aron Ralston is an avid rock climber, canyoneer and extreme adventure junkie. He climbs the highest peaks in North America in the dead of winter, bike rides solo through deep and desolate canyons, and skiis the avalanche-ridden Colorado backcountry without batting an eye. And, in the spring of 2003, he cut off his own arm when it became trapped between a boulder and a rock wall while hiking in a Utah canyon.

Now, I personally am not much of a hiker, and I have no desire to climb an actual mountain, particularly in the dead of winter, but I am fascinated by stories about people who are and who do test the limits of human survival in such outrageous ways. I've read a lot in this genre, including Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Mt. Everest), The Climb (Mt. Everest), Touching the Void (Peruvian Andes), and now Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Utah canyons), and I'm always amazed by the drive, courage, and good luck these explorers experience during their ordeals. In Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Ralston describes many of his wintertime mountaineering adventures, some close calls he's had, and also how he is usually very diligent about leaving detailed explanations of his hiking and biking plans with friends or family. In the spring of 2003, however, Ralston decided at the last minute to take a quick trip into the canyons of Utah, leaving no information about his itinerary behind for roommates or friends at his home in Colorado. He parked his car in a remote lot at the trailhead for a little-used path and set off for a day's hike into the canyons. After a few hours of enjoyable canyoneering, a boulder dislodged above Ralston, crushing his forearm and pinning him against the wall of the canyon for five agonizing days before he finally took the last deperate measure available to him and cut off his arm with the dull blade he'd brought along on his hike. Believe me, this makes for a fast-paced and UNBELIEVABLE read! If like extreme adventure or even if you're an armchair adventurer like me, you will love Between a Rock and Hard Place by Aron Ralston. 4 out of 4 Bananas!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

I also loved this book! He took some photos of himself while he was trapped that are printed in the book, and are haunting. He also describes making a video message to his family in case he dies, which he now cannot watch. Intense!