Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week 39: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aron Ralston

A coworker lent me this book right before my recent camping trip to the Grand Canyon and the Utah National Parks. Aron Ralston, the author (whose story was adapted into the movie 127 Hours) , went through his ordeal in Canyonlands National Park, and I was headed there on my trip, so it seemed appropriate to read this book while I was in the actual setting of the story. Let me tell you, I looked forward to reading this every night in my tent by headlight. It is an AMAZING story. For those who are not familiar with Aron, he was a 27 year-old outdoorsman when he was canyoneering and accidentally pinned his right arm beneath a boulder in a remote section of Canyonlands. He was trapped for six days before desperation led him to amputate his arm using a common multi-tool with a three-inch blade. The story is just unbelievable. The idea of being in Aron’s situation is utterly chilling. No one knows where he is. He is in a dark canyon (seven miles from the nearest trail) that can only be accessed by rappelling. Isolated in the slot canyon, he documents his struggle to survive. He only has a small amount of food and water and is unable to even sit down because of the position of his arm. As his situation becomes increasingly dire, Aron’s description of his physical and mental symptoms describe, in essence, what dying is like. It’s gripping. Despite the fact that it’s known that Aron will amputate his arm, it’s still thrilling and horrifying when it happens. (And he describes it in GREAT detail.) What’s more, Aron is an excellent writer. His wonderful, reflective prose is the icing on the cake. His insights on life, and what his purpose is, are truly moving.  I found myself rooting for Aron as if I knew him – that is how likable and sweet he comes across as. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an uplifting, inspiring read. You will feel great after reading it, and you will be reminded of all you take for granted in life.

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