It was Saturday, April 26, 2003. Colorado raised, Aron Ralston, began a biking/hiking/rappelling expedition through Canyonlands National Park in Utah. His route would take him thirty miles through the Blue John and Horseshoe Canyons. It would take him five days.

This is the one of the most badass stories ever heard. Aron, 27 at the time, took a spur of the moment trip to the wilderness. Along his way he had to scale mutiple cliffs and ledges. While dangling from one of the ledges, he loosened an 800 pound rock that fell on him and pinned his right hand against the canyon wall.

After being trapped for five days, drinking his own urine to survive, and braving the harsh physical and psychological tortures of impending death, Aron decided to become the hardcoremost person he could. Not only did he make a tourniquet and cut off his arm, he also had to snap his radius and ulna because his pocket knife wouldn't cut through them. He then proceeded to make the rest of the hike out (about five miles with a 65 foot rappel) without bleeding to death. He walked out of the woods on the following Thursday.

I don't want to ruin it for you with too much detail. Aron wrote a book about his ordeal called Between a Rock and the Hardest Place and he tells it much better than I do. It is sufficient to say this book kicks ass. The author really connects with humanity throughout his story:

He goes from mild absent-mindedness in the face of adversity...

  • "The likeliest method available for cutting off my arm, cutting through the softer cartilage of my elbow joint, simply never occurs to me." -Aron Ralston

...to angry at the world...

  • "This is shit! The damn blade won't even break the skin. How the hell am I going to carve through two bones with a knife that won't even cut my skin? God damn it to hell." -Aron Ralston

...he makes a deal with The Devil...

  • "OK, God, since you're apparently busy ... Devil, if you're listening, I need some help here. I'll trade you my arm, my soul, whatever you want. Just get me out of here." -Aron Ralston

...gets a little philosophical to kill time...

  • "That boulder did what it was there to do. Boulders fall. That's their nature. You did this, Aron." -Aron Ralston

...and even manages to get a little sentimental for the ladies.

  • "My morale slumps in a pang, like the first time a girl broke my heart." -Aron Ralston

Let it be known that nature cannot stop this man. Interesting end note: In February 2003, on a backcountry trip to Colorado's Resolution Peak, Ralston and two friends were caught in an Avalanche. The man's freaking invincible. All else aside, if you're planning a wilderness trek, just remember to tell people where you're going, fool!!!

http://www.cmu.edu/magazine/03fall/aralston.html
http://outside.away.com/outside/features/200308/200308_hardway_200308_1.html
http://hike.mountainzone.com/2003/news/html/030502_amputate-arm.html
http://www.aralston.com
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0308/q_n_a_rex.html

See also fisherman Bill Jeracki who preceded Ralston's ungodly commitment by cutting off his leg in a similar situation back in 1993.

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