Monday, May 05, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - booktalk

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston

When Aron Ralston went hiking in Blue John Canyon, Utah in late April 2003, he made some really big mistakes. He told nobody where he was going, and he traveled with just a couple of burritos, just over a gallon of water, some chocolate bars, a muffin, the necessary equipment to climb up and down sheer canyon walls, a CD player, headphones, a couple of CDs, batteries, a digital camera, and a mini camcorder. He also had a multipurpose knife that had two pocketknife blades and a pair of pliers. The water and the knife would save his life when he got caught between a rock and a hard place. When someone says they were caught between a rock and a hard place, they usually mean that they have to choose between two options, and that neither of those choices is good. In Aron’s case, he literally did get caught between a rock and a hard place when a 500 pound rock he had just climbed off shifted, fell, and pinned his lower right arm to the canyon wall. Despite all his efforts, he could not shift that rock or chip it away enough to free his hand. He realized that nobody knew where to look for him, and that help would probably take at least six, maybe seven days, to arrive. He also knew his chances of surviving for more than three days were minuscule. He did survive for those three days, and a fourth, and then a fifth. But on the morning of the sixth day, he realized his luck was running out. He was already drinking his own urine. He was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. He realized he had just two choices left: the rock and the hard place. He could sit there pinned by the rock until he died a slow, agonizing death, or he could amputate his arm and maybe, just maybe, hike out of the canyon. He took out his pocketknife and he began to cut.

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