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Twitter/IG: @RyanHawk12   https://twitter.com/RyanHawk12

Aron Ralston is a mountaineer, mechanical engineer, and best-selling author known for surviving a canyoneering accident by cutting off part of his own right arm. On April 26, 2003, during a solo descent of Bluejohn Canyon in southeastern Utah, he dislodged a boulder, pinning his right wrist to the side of the canyon wall. After five days, he had to break his forearm, amputate it with a dull pocket knife to break free, make his way through the rest of the canyon, rappel down a 65-foot drop, and hike 7 miles to safety. The incident is documented in Aron’s autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place and is the subject of the 2010 film 127 Hours in which he is portrayed by James Franco. After the accident, Aron continued mountaineering and became the first person to ascend all of Colorado’s fourteeners solo in winter.

  • “Turn boulders into blessings.”
  • During this conversation, Aron takes us through the 127 hours from when his right arm was pinned under a boulder until he was resting safely in a hospital bed. Along the way, he shares key learnings that all of us can take from his experience.
  • In April 2003, Aron was canyoneering alone through Bluejohn Canyon, in Utah, just south of the Horseshoe Canyon unit of Canyonlands National Park. While he was descending the lower stretches of the slot canyon, a suspended boulder dislodged while he was climbing down from it. The boulder first smashed his left hand and then crushed his right hand against the canyon wall. Aron had not informed anyone of his hiking plans, nor did he have any way to call for help.
    • Assuming that he would die without intervention, he spent five days slowly sipping his small amount of remaining water, approximately 350 ml (12 imp fl oz), and slowly eating his small amount of food, two burritos, while repeatedly trying to extricate his arm. His efforts were futile as he was unable to free his arm from the 800 lb (360 kg) chockstone. After three days of trying to lift and break the boulder, the dehydrated and delirious Ralston prepared to amputate his trapped arm at a point on the mid-forearm in order to escape. After having experimented with tourniquets and having made exploratory superficial cuts to his forearm, he realized, on the fourth day, that in order to free his arm he would have to cut through the bones in it, but the tools available were insufficient to do so.
    • After running out of food and water on the fifth day, Aron decided to drink his own urine. He carved his name, date of birth, and presumed date of death into the sandstone canyon wall, and videotaped his last goodbyes to his family. He did not expect to survive the night, but as he attempted to stay warm he began hallucinating and had a vision of himself playing with a future child while missing part of his right arm. Aron credited this as giving him the belief that he would live.
    • After waking at dawn the following day he discovered that his arm had begun to decompose due to the lack of circulation, and became desperate to tear it off.  Aron then had an epiphany that he could break his radius and ulna bones using torque against his trapped arm. He did so, then amputated his forearm with his multi-tool, using the dull 2-inch knife and pliers for the tougher tendons. The painful process took an hour, during which time he used tubing from a CamelBak as a tourniquet, taking care to leave major arteries until last. The manufacturer of the multi-tool was never named, but Aron said “It was not a Leatherman but what you’d get if you bought a $15 flashlight and got a free multi-use tool.”
    • After freeing himself, Ralston climbed out of the slot canyon in which he had been trapped, rappelled down a 65-foot sheer wall, then hiked out of the canyon. He was 8 miles from his car and had no phone. However, after 6 miles of hiking, he encountered a family on vacation from the Netherlands; Eric and Monique Meijer and their son Andy, who gave him food and water and hurried to alert the authorities. Aron had feared he would bleed to death; he had lost 40 pounds, including 25% of his blood volume. Rescuers searching for Ralston, alerted by his family that he was missing, had narrowed the search down to Canyonlands and he was picked up by a helicopter in a wide area of the canyon. He was rescued approximately four hours after amputating his arm.
  • The STOP acronym: Stop (pause), Think (brainstorm), Observation, Plan
    • Stop
    • Think
    • Observe
    • Plan
  • Commitment is the first step.”
  • At one point when Aron’s arm was stuck under the giant rock, he filmed his “goodbyes” to each family member.
    • “Who would you say your goodbyes to and what would you say?” Aron realized that life is all about loving relationships.
  • “You can’t hold despair and gratitude at the same time.”
  • 127 Hours – There is no force so powerful as the will to live.
    • Aron’s version: “There’s no force so powerful as the will to love.”
  • “Welcome adversity. It helps you grow.”
  • “Find gratitude for the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.”
  • “Passion. That which I suffer, allow, endure, is done to me.”

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