Synopses & Reviews
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 27-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.
"What makes his account of his ordeal extraordinary...is the detail and precision Ralston, a former mechanical engineer, brings to the telling....But those were all trumped by Ralston's amazing resourcefulness in prolonging his supplies and finding a way out, his boundless enthusiasm for life, and his dogged force of will at enduring far longer than anyone could have expected." Booklist (starred review)
"[A] moving account of strength in the face of adversity....Ralston's prose is never gruesome, nor is it used to shock....It's truly thrilling..." Publishers Weekly
"This is a searing and amazingly detailed rendition of his ordeal, along with accounts of several of Ralston's previous wilderness adventures." School Library Journal
'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.'
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.
The International Bestseller Between a Rock and a Hard Place
--Now the Major Motion Picture 127 Hours
Hiking into the remote Utah canyonlands, Aron Ralston felt perfectly at home in the beauty of the natural world. Then, at 2:41 P.M., eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, an eight-hundred-pound boulder tumbled loose, pinning Aron's right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. Through six days of hell, with scant water, food, or warm clothing, and the terrible knowledge that no one knew where he was, Aron eliminated his escape option one by one. Then a moment of stark clarity helped him to solve the riddle of the boulder--and commit one of the most extreme and desperate acts imaginable.
Honest, inspiring, and undeniably astonishing, 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place has taken its place in the annals of classic adventure stories.
About the Author
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. His first book, andlt;iandgt;Between a Rock and a Hard Placeandlt;/iandgt;, was a andlt;iandgt;New York Timesandlt;/iandgt; bestseller and was adapted into the major motion picture andlt;iandgt;127 Hoursandlt;/iandgt; by Danny Boyle. Today, as a father of an infant daughter and four-year-old son, Aronandnbsp;lives in Boulder, Colorado.andnbsp;He continues toandnbsp;travel the world for both adventure andandnbsp;to share his story.andnbsp;Follow his journey at AronRalstonSpeaker.com.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide
Aron Ralston's Between a Rock and a Hard Place
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
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?