Between a Rock and a Hard Place



Did you ever play that game where someone asks whether you would forfeit a part of your body in exchange for loads of money; remove a finger, for example, for a million quid? The man in the photo above is Aron Ralston and he was faced with a question like that… except that the stakes were much, much higher. The choice that Ralston had to make was between cutting off his own arm or death.

I bought Aron Ralston’s book today Between a Rock and a Hard Place. He is a rock climber who went hiking in the remote Utah canyonlands and found himself in a deep, narrow slot canyon trapped by an 800 pound boulder. The above photo, taken by him during the ordeal, actually shows his arm pinned down by the boulder. After six days of hell with virtually no water, food or warm clothing he was forced to make that desperate and agonising choice. Aron Ralston did cut off his own arm and, following his rescue, has since gone on to climb the 59 Colorado peaks of more than 14,000 feet, alone, in Winter.

I’m fascinated by the way human beings seem to be able to draw on incredible inner resources to get through unimaginable agony so I’m looking forward to reading the book. However, I also have a phobia about blood. Reading the account of what this man was forced to do to survive is going to be uncomfortable but hopefully inspiring. With luck I’ll never have to face anything as horrific as that faced by Ralston but reading about how people can overcome incredible adversity might just help put my own comparatively trivial problems into perspective. People can cope with anything. Absolutely anything. Whatever we’re facing in our lives that’s getting us down or maybe even making us feel desperate, we can cope with it. It will be all right. Just as well because with Danny Boyle‘s film adaptation, 127 Hours, out in cinemas this week I’m going to need all the coping strategies I can get to sit through the scene with the arm!



6 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  1. Self-amputation even in dire circumstances would be just about the hardest decision to make. Could I trade my bodily integrity for an improved chance of survival? I’m not sure I could. I’d be the guy who died of exposure and/or starvation, all the while telling myself “The helicopter will be here any time now…”


  2. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it,
    you will be a great author.I will always bookmark your blog
    and definitely will come back someday. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice


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