Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CBR V # 3 - Between a Rock and A Hard Place by Aron Ralston

I first heard about this guy from the movie 127 hours. I wanted to watch the movie, but again, I always want to read the book before the movie.  Ralston first learned to love the outdoors when his family moved to Colorado when he was just a kid.  He was an outdoor sports hobbyist until he quit his cushy engineer job to work at a ski shop in order to be nearer to the mountains he loved and have more time to climb them.

Aron went to a weekend trip to Utah for some trekking and maybe partying after.  Since the destination was spur of the moment (his original plans fell through), Aron told no one his itinerary.  It was an ordinary hike with a difficulty level well within his capabilities as an outdorsman.  However, as fate would have it, he met a loose boulder which managed to pin his arm to a wall of the canyon.  After spending five days pinned to the wall, he did the only thing left to do to save his life. He cut off his arm.

When I first heard about the book, I thought why the heck would it take a whole book to talk about how you got trapped and cut off his arm.  I mean, its not like he had to hunt animals to survive or anything like.  I thought it would be a fairly monotonous (albeit harrowing) 5 days.  The book doesn't just dwell on the actual event itself.  You learn about Aron and his life and how he thinks it is that he ends up where he was.  These memories are interspersed between the time spent trapped, which was actually pretty interesting too since he didn't just spend it lying down (or standing up, as it is) but actually tried to devise some ways to try to free himself like digging and making a pulley to try to pull the boulder off him.

It was so weird because when he talked about his love for the mountains, it actually brought tears to my eyes.  Maybe I was hormonal, but I think I got what he was talking about.  I used to climb here. admittedly, our mountains here much less grander in scale and way more tropical.  But when he waxes poetic about that feeling of achievement, and beautiful isolation about how it feels like to be on top of the world, I get it, and it touched me.

Aron (the Aron in the book) was far from perfect.  He was arrogant and reckless and seemed to have a deathwish or felt invincible.    Well, we all at one time in our lives, felt invincible.  I know I felt that before I had my kids.  However, there was so much more good and inspiring in his attitude.  It was so cool how his logical mind just jumped to try to find solutions and his steely resolve made him able to execute it.

The experience was harrowing.  His journey to how he got there was interesting and instructive.  His escape was inspiring.  It's pretty good writing and it's a pretty compelling story.

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