Sunday, 8 November 2009

Aron Ralston

The tale of the climber who hacked off his own arm after it became trapped under a half-tonne boulder, is to be made into a film. According to Variety, Danny Boyle, Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, is confirming plans to base his next film, 127 Hours, on Aron Ralston’s ordeal in Utah’s Blue John canyon in April 2003.

In his 2004 book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the Indiana-born mountaineer described the moment his arm became trapped under a boulder while solo-canyoneering (called canyoning in the UK):

"The rock smashes my left hand against the south wall; my eyes register the collision, and I yank my left arm back as the rock ricochets; the boulder then crushes my right hand and ensnares my right arm at the wrist, palm in, thumb up, figures extended; the rock slides another foot down the wall with my arm in tow tearing the skin off the lateral side of my forearm. Then silence."

Ralston was then pinned against the mountainside for five days. He survived by drinking his own urine and even videotaped a farewell message for his friends and family. He eventually escaped by hacking off his arm by using a blunt knife and a pair of pliers:
"I thrash myself forward and back, side to side, up and down, down and up," he wrote. "I scream out in pure hate, shrieking as I batter my body to and fro against the canyon walls."

Some have criticised Ralston for not telling anyone where he was going and for being ill-prepared for his trip. However, the story makes it into Those Who Dared for being a true feat of endurance and determination to survive – at all costs. Self-amputation is a repellent thought but Ralston’s account provides a glimpse of the thought process that leads to such an act.

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