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The Aron Ralston story

The Aron Ralston story

On April 25, 2003, Aron Ralston drove to Moab, Utah, where he mountain-biked the famous Slickrock Trail. He then made his way to Horseshoe Canyon. When he arrived, night was falling, so he made camp. He was planning an ascent of Mount McKinley in Alaska, and this trip was part of his training. In the morning, he filled his backpack writh water, candy bars and his climbing gear, and set out for Bluejohn Canyon.

He climbed into the canyon on April 26. He had gone about five miles when he came to a section where a series of large boulders were hanging, wedged between the walls of the canyon. He worked his way past these until he came to a boulder hanging over a drop of about three metres. Putting one hand around the boulder, wTtich weighed about 800  pounds, Ralston stretched to reach a secure foothold below. As he did so, the boulder rotated, slid down and trapped his right hand betw7een it and the canyon wall, crushing it completely.

His heart was beating fast and for the first few moments he threw his body repeatedly against the boulder to move it, but it refused to move. He forced himself to stop, breathe and then considered his situation logically.

He hadn’t told anyone where he was. It would be days before anyone realised that he was missing. Ralston was standing on a small stone, facing the boulder that had crushed his hand. The pain was intense, but he was determined to stay in control. He only had two courses of action left to him: he could chip at the rock to free his hand; or he could cut off his hand.

His only tool was a cheap multi-tool. Over the next days, he worked to chip away at the rock with it, but the progress he made was minimal. He was wearing shorts, hiking boots and a fleece pullover. He had started with three litres of water. Now he was down to one.

Ralston had been waiting there for five days. But by the time the search teams started out, he had long since decided what he had to do. He packed his gear and arranged everything neatly in preparation for cutting off his hand. The arm was numb, so he didn’t feel anything, but it was still not an easy thing to do. The operation took over an hour. Dripping blood, he made his way back out of the canyon and began the long hike out of the National Park. After six miles, he was met by some tourists.

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