Sunday, July 1, 2012

Title: 127 Hours Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Author: Aron Ralston
Source: My nook

Goodreads Summary:

On Sunday April 27, 2003, 27-year old Aron Ralston set off for a day's hiking in the Utah canyons. Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, Ralston, a seasoned climber, figured he'd hike for a few hours and then head off to work. 

40 miles from the nearest paved road, he found himself on top of an 800-pound boulder. As he slid down and off of the boulder it shifted, trapping his right hand against the canyon wall. No one knew where he was; he had little water; he wasn't dressed correctly; and the boulder wasn't going anywhere. He remained trapped for five days in the canyon: hypothermic at night, de-hydrated and hallucinating by day. Finally, he faced the most terrible decision of his life: braking the bones in his wrist by snapping them against the boulder, he hacked through the skin, and finally succeeded in amputating his right hand and wrist.

The ordeal, however, was only beginning. He still faced a 60-foot rappell to freedom, and a walk of several hours back to his car - along the way, he miraculously met a family of hikers, and with his arms tourniqued, and blood-loss almost critical, they heard above them the whir of helicopter blades; just in time, Aron was rescued and rushed to hospital.

Since that day, Aron has had a remarkable recovery. He is back out on the mountains, with an artificial limb; he speaks to select groups on his ordeal and rescue; and amazingly, he is upbeat, positive, and an inspiration to all who meet him. This is the account of those five days, of the years that led up to them, and where he goes from here. It is narrative non-fiction at its most compelling.

My thoughts:

I read this book thinking if it were me would probably just have died.  Aron Ralston is one tough dude, being of the right mind set to amputate his own arm to gain his freedom from his rock prison.  I was even more impressed by how calm he kept himself, and how rational and clear his thinking was, in order to even get to that point.

I have to say, I did tire of reading near death experience after near death experience - the story of being trapped by a boulder was interspersed with stories of other exploits.  Mountain climbing, canyoneering, hiking, biking, mountain skiing - all of his stories had the common denominator of almost dying.  Was it bad luck or a death wish?  His hours in the trapped in the canyon were cathartic in a way, with Ralston reviewing his life and how he treated the people he cared about.  He had been focused on what he was doing, and not as much as those he was doing it with.  He resolved that if he lived and made it out of the canyon, he would spend more time with his friends and family.

I love to read books about the outdoors, hiking, and all that, people vs. nature type things.  Grizzly Man, Walden, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and now this, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. It doesn't surprise me that out of these, Aron Ralston was one of the few that survived their misadventure.  He was determined, smart and possessed great ingenuity,  and with his survival, reminds people to never give up hope. 

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