Between a Rock and a Hard Place
By Aron Ralston
(Atria Books, Paperback, 9780743492829, 368pp.)
Publication Date: August 30, 2005
One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told -- Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.
It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks. He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him.
It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.
And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death -- trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't drown him before that.
What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place -- a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life -- will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories.
Aron Ralston, a native of the Midwest, retired from a career as a mechanical engineer at age twenty-six before moving to Aspen, Colorado. Since his accident, he has completed his unprecedented project to climb the fifty-nine Colorado peaks of more than 14,000 feet, alone, in winter. This is his first book.
'Ralston manages to keep the tension flowing throughout . . . alternating each chapter of angst-ridden, present-tense narrative with a cosier chapter of climbing nostalgia. This lends the book a Hitchcockian rhythm, see-sawing neatly between calm and tension. . . . . He is somehow able to chronicle the ebb and flow of his thoughts and feelings during his ordeal with an exactness that gives his book the emotional pull of a psychological thriller.'
Craig Brown, book of the week in the MAIL ON SUNDAY
'Ralston is a passionate man who has lived his life resolutely pursuing this passion. His fortitude in his dire predicament was, as he would say, awesome, and from this it is possible to learn much about hope in the face of overwhelming odds.'
Toby Clements, DAILY TELEGRAPH
'Heroic, searing and compelling' Benedict Allen '[This book has] the emotional pull of a psychological thriller'
MAIL ON SUNDAY
'A gripping book . . . It not only details his entrapment and escape but tells vivid tales of extreme mountaineering prior to that defining misadventure'
Joanna Walters, DAILY EXPRESS
'Ralston is superb at evoking the epic beauty of the land, and his description of his ordeal is riveting: think Touching the Void directed by Tarantino'
Sarfraz Manzoor, NEW STATESMAN
'Riveting . . . if you only read one adventure book this year, this is it'
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
'Here is one man's heroic struggle with the infinite, a searing and compelling read. Aron Ralston tells his agonizing, inspiring tale of survival with all the verve and honesty you'd expect of someone who somehow found inspiration even in the face of a lonely death.'