Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: 127 Hours Between a Rock and a Hard Place By Aron Ralston

127 Hours Between a Rock and a Hard Place By Aron Ralston

Simon & Schuster UK, February 2011

Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages

ISBN-10: 1849833907

ISBN-13: 9781849833905

List Price: $22.99


On Sunday April 27, 2003, 27-year old Aron Ralston set off for a day's hiking in the Utah canyons. Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, Ralston, a seasoned climber, figured he'd hike for a few hours and then head off to work.

40 miles from the nearest paved road, he found himself on top of an 800-pound boulder. As he slid down and off of the boulder it shifted, trapping his right hand against the canyon wall. No one knew where he was; he had little water; he wasn't dressed correctly; and the boulder wasn't going anywhere. He remained trapped for five days in the canyon: hypothermic at night, de-hydrated and hallucinating by day. Finally, he faced the most terrible decision of his life: breaking the bones in his wrist by snapping them against the boulder, he hacked through the skin, and finally succeeded in amputating his right hand and wrist.

The ordeal, however, was only beginning. He still faced a 60-foot rappel to freedom, and a walk of several hours back to his car - along the way, he miraculously met a family of hikers, and with his arms tourniqued, and blood-loss almost critical, they heard above them the whir of helicopter blades; just in time, Aron was rescued and rushed to hospital.

Since that day, Aron has had a remarkable recovery. He is back out on the mountains, with an artificial limb; he speaks to select groups on his ordeal and rescue; and amazingly, he is upbeat, positive, and an inspiration to all who meet him. This is the account of those five days, of the years that led up to them, and where he goes from here. It is narrative non-fiction at its most compelling.

Book Review

I had never heard of the story of Aron Ralston and his accident that cost him his arm before, but after reading the blurb for this autobiography I was compelled to find out the nitty-gritty details.

The book flows quit quickly from the initial introduction to the incident that saw Aron trapped by his arm under a two tonne bolder in the desert. It was quite interesting from the point of view of someone who had never been canyonering to hear the details of this past time. The details of how Aron rapidly descended into a state that saw him hallucinating and finally breaking his own arm in order to amputate it was horrific.

The only part of this account of Aron accident that I didn’t feel was necessary was some of the in-between chapters that detailed previous events in his life, some were interesting and described other near misses he’d had, but others could have been left out without detracting from the overall theme of the book.

That being said, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in survival and the lengths someone will go to to live.

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