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Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Between a Rock and a Hard Place Cover



Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Aron Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place


1) Ralston mentions his many moments at near certain death yet he continued to participate in activities with potential danger. Do you believe Ralston felt he was taking risks? What is it about his personality that drove him to these pursuits?

2) Americans enjoy several extreme sports, not to mention the pastimes of sky diving, bungie cord jumping, and white water rafting. Do you think this is unique to our culture, or can you think of examples in other countries?

3) How did Ralston's previous near death encounters change him? Did they cause him to crave more or increase his carelessness? Was he aware of the hazards? Did he take all the necessary precautions?

4) In one near fatal incident, he and two of his friends were caught in an avalanche. After this incident Ralston explains he never heard from those friends again. What did you think of Ralston's reaction? Why do you think he mentions this story? Was there a lesson from this situation that he didn't take away at the time?

5) Compare Ralston's many stories of his numerous near deadly excursions and his mountaineering and skiing adventures. Besides physically, explain how these adventures prepared him for this awful experience mentally and spiritually.

6) Ralston was very detailed in the accounts of his survival, including the amputation. Were there sections you weren't able to read? Were there methods you learned? What effect did this have on you? Do you feel he needed to be so specific?

7) Although Ralston chastises himself for not thinking of it sooner, do you think he needed those six days to come to the realization that amputating his arm was his only hope of survival?

8) Is Ralston's story a symbol of hope or a cautionary tale for thrill seekers? Ralston affirms that he wouldn't change anything about his experience and would actually live through it again if given the choice. Why? What did he take away from this? Why do you think he needed to tell his story? Was there anything that you learned which surprised you?

9) What are the most significant lessons Ralston learns over the course of this book?

10) What are Ralston's feelings about nature? How has his opinion changed after this experience?

11) Hindsight is 20/20. Ralston is an experienced outdoorsman. What did he need to do to prevent this accident? Do you think his probability of disaster was increasing with the number of risks he took? Are some activities ever safe? Or safe only to a certain degree?

12) Many people have expressed that they don't think themselves capable of doing what Ralston did. How does he answer them?

Product Details

Ralston, Aron
Atria Books
Adventurers & Explorers
Rock climbing accidents
Inspirational - General
General Biography
Edition Description:
Atria Bks Hdcvr
Publication Date:
September 7, 2004
Grade Level:
9.25 x 6.12 in 22.4 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Featured Titles » Home and Leisure
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Lore and Survival
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Mountaineering » General
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Mountaineering » Literature

Between a Rock and a Hard Place Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Atria Books - English 9780743492812 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In a moving account of strength in the face of adversity, Ralston presents the full story behind the 2003 event that became worldwide news: his self-amputation of his right arm after it was caught between a boulder and a canyon wall during what began as a routine day hike in the Utah Canyons. An experienced climber, Ralston, 28, effectively shows he wasn't a risk-taker, and alternates between describing how his jaunt turned into a nightmare when a huge stone suddenly came unstuck as he used it to climb down a ledge, and recalling early experiences that changed his novice attitudes toward hiking, which he admits 'were not intrinsically safe.' Ralston candidly renders the details of six days of entrapment, using transcribed monologues from videotapes he made while trapped, including his increasingly exhausted thoughts as well as poignant farewells to his family. But his best writing details his self-amputation and his subsequent march to safety, in which he rappelled one-armed down a hill and then hiked six miles before someone found him. Ralston's prose is never gruesome, nor is it used to shock, even as he describes first breaking his forearm, and then slipping 'into some sort of autopilot' as he cuts through muscle fibers to detach the arm. It's truly thrilling when he finishes and is free: 'A crystalline moment shatters and the world is a different place.' 16 pages of color photos. Simultaneous audio release. Agent, Ron Elberger. (Sept. 14) Forecast: National radio and print ads, an upcoming NBC special with Tom Brokaw, a 12-city author tour and multiple excerpts in magazines such as Outside will bring much attention to Ralston's already well-known story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "What makes his account of his ordeal the detail and precision Ralston...brings to the telling, from the almost minute-by-minute chronology of his ordeal to topographical descriptions of the ground he's covered..."
"Review" by , "[A] mesmerizing story told in chilling detail....Ralston vividly describes his hallucinations...while the graphic passage of the amputation itself leaves one wincing but buoyed by the promise of his freedom with each break of a bone, cut of flesh and pull on a tendon."
"Synopsis" by , Icebound meets Into Thin Air in this astonishing, day-by-day account of Ralston's terrible accident, self-amputation, and subsequent rescue and recovery. Full-color photos.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
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