127 Hours, a new film about Aron Ralston, the young adventurer who had to amputate his arm with a multi-tool, has been garnering positive reviews. Some of the scenes are said to be so realistic and explicit that three filmgoers fainted when it was it was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (although of course this could well have been a publicity stunt.)
Directed by Danny Boyle, the film, based on Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place, tells the story of how a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days he comes to the conclusion that the only way to escape is break the bone and cut through the tendons of his right arm. There's a short trailer here but also take a look at this film of Ralston describing the amputation.
Obviously the build-up to the severing of the arm forms the central part the book but Ralston has a few other tales to tell. For example, early on in his outdoor career a solo climbing trip to the Grand Teton National Park turned into a nightmare cat and mouse game with a hungry bear. Soon after establishing camp he realised that a young bear had been following him so, being an experienced backwoodsman, he strapped his food bag high up in a tree. The bear though just ripped it down. Ralston realised that he if he didn't get the supplies back he could well run into trouble thus he went looking for the thief, found it, and while waving a large stick, shouted "give me my food back, bear". Surprisingly, it dropped the bag. However, the animal later got its revenge by trashing the camp while Ralston was off climbing. It then followed him for 24 hours - Ralston would throw stones at the bear, it would go away, and then re-appear. He finally reached the safety the safety of his car,
I'd completely forgotten this story until a friend reminded me - whilst trying to scare a bear (left) away from our camp at Porcupine Flat, near Tuolumne Meadows. Panic reigned in the campsite for an hour or so, especially after the animal went up to someone's table and began to eat everything in sight. It gave just a small insight into the fear Ralston must have felt whilst coping with the bear on his own.