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Between a Rock and a Hard Place
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Aron Ralsted's Between a Rock and a Hard Place is an amazing read. You know the story. Could you do what he did? Hiking into the remote Utah canyon lands, Aron Ralston felt perfectly at home in the beauty of the natural world. Then, at 2:41 P.M., eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, an eight-hundred-pound boulder tumbled loose, pinning Aron's right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. Through six days of hell, with scant water, food, or warm clothing, and the terrible knowledge that no one knew where he was, Aron eliminated his escape option one by one. Then a moment of stark clarity helped him to solve the riddle of the boulder--and commit one of the most extreme and desperate acts imaginable. Oh yeah, that guy.Author - Aron Ralsted.Binding - soft.Pages - 354.Publisher - Atria Books.Year - 2005.ISBN - 9780743492829.
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I have read other books in this genre- Into Thin Air, 6 Below, etc which include technical climbing detail but it was understandable and necessary to the larger narrative. Here it just seemed to be filler- as though he had to recount every adventure and close call he had up until the final one.
The story of his entrapment(second half) increasingly dire predicament, his thoughts and description of how he finally escaped WAS an amazing and compelling story.
The lessons are to never hike alone, don't take chances and be sure to have a communication device of some
sort other than a cell when hiking out in far out places. Let family or friends know that if you do not return at a
certain time then they need to come looking for you. Very unfortunate for this man although he is turning it
around to make the best of it.
Like so many people, I was held spellbound back in 2003 when Ralston's story first hit the media. What kind of man does it take to cut off his own arm to survive a terrifying accident? I knew the area the accident happened in and that just made the story more compelling to me - the Canyonlands are not a forgiving landcape.
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place" answered some of my questions. I, for one, am glad that this is not the story of JUST the accident but tells more of Ralston's life story. I see it more as a character study and I think if you read it as that, you won't be disappointed.
Even after reading the book, do I understand Ralston? No. He wrote the book himself and I enjoyed his writing style. He was VERY candid about his lifestyle and all his past mistakes and imperfections. He is an adrenaline junkie, an adventurer - problem is that he makes careless mistakes, takes ridiculous chances, has endangered others in his various quests.
I have a son the same age as Ralston and I have to say, as a mother, I would not want to be Ralston's mother. I am quite sure that his accident was the culmination of years of sleepless nights and waiting for THAT phone call.
The book really made me think about what inner qualities it takes to become an adventurer, an explorer, a trailblazer. I can't decide if any of these are Ralston's aims or whether he just has a death wish.
I don't agree with many of his methods but Ralston is living the life he wants to live. He is the first person, as noted in his book, to ever scale all 59 of Colorado's 14,000 foot or above peaks solo in winter. And this manchild had the extraordinary fortitude and will to live to be able to cut off his own arm, rappel one-armed down a cliff face, and hike miles out of the desolate Canyonlands to reach safety. How many people in the whole world would have been able to do the same?
I guess I expected a story about some random guy who had a rock fall on him, cut his arm, and survived. I didn't know he was such an experienced adventurer living an action packed lifestyle. It would definately be a great read if you have ever done any of the outdoor activities that he talks about in his flashbacks/memories because it will help you relate to how much Aron had accomplished prior to this incident.
It definately makes me double check my plans and gear when heading out on a trip because this proves that you never know what can happen. Glad I read the book before I watched the movie because the movie was terrible!
With a vivid hour-by-hour narrative, the book draws you into the experience, as tough as it was. Having climbed and hiked myself, the story made me remember again that putting yourself on the edge can quickly go wrong. But it also reminded me that there is much beauty in the experience and that being in the moment on the mountain is reward in itself. This is a great story about mental toughness, resilience, and the dilemma of personal achievement. A great read for people who spend time in the back country, this story is also a great read if you are facing a difficult challenge in your own journey.
Ralston is a dedicated adventurer. He has the experience and motivation most people never even dream of.
This book is not just a chronological listing of his experiences and the 127 hours of entrapment. It is a story, laid out to keep the reader enthralled. The telling and emotional outpouring kept me turning pages long after I usually would have set other books down. I was surprised at Raston's author skills. I didn't see mention of a co-author but I felt I was reading the likes of London or Hemingway. Danger, adventure, struggle, success and victory!!
I have a total new opinion of Ralston now but I wonder if I've been a sucker for his writing skills.