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Old 10-18-2004, 10:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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An inspiration (and one gutsy mofo)

Most people will have heard this story, but here's an interesting update/retrospective.

Quote:
My amputation 'miracle'
October 19, 2004 - 11:33AM


Aron Ralston, the Colorado climber who saved his life by cutting off his own hand after he became trapped under a boulder last year, calls the experience a "miracle and a blessing".

Stranded in a hidden Utah canyon for six days, Ralston thought he would die and even videotaped a farewell to his parents, sister and friends as he languished, his right arm wedged behind a massive rock.

"I will die here," Ralston recalls in his memoir Between A Rock and a Hard Place. "I will shrivel up, slumping here with my arm trapped in this place, when dehydration decides to stop toying around and finally kills me."

His experience and how he defeated those seemingly impossible odds garnered international media attention and gave him new purpose in life.

"The public and media attention has given the story an ample audience to do the work I think it was brought to me to do," he said in an interview. "I look at what happened to me as a miracle and a blessing and I therefore feel it a duty, even an obligation, to share it."

At the time, his situation looked anything but blessed.

Ralston, 28, an avid outdoorsman living in Aspen, Colorado, was climbing in April 2003 in Canyonlands National Park in central-eastern Utah. That afternoon he was making his way down to a ledge in a narrow canyon when a boulder fell towards him. He tried to protect himself by throwing his arms up. The boulder crashed down, pinning his right arm from the wrist down.

He tried frantically to free himself without success. As day waned, Ralston cursed himself, realising no-one knew where he was.

"I violated the prime directive of wilderness travel in failing to leave a detailed trip plan," he wrote later. "I am alone in a predicament that could very shortly prove to be fatal."

On the sixth morning of his entrapment, exhausted from not sleeping and severely dehydrated, Ralston saw that his trapped hand was beginning to decay. Disgusted and agitated, he pulled on it repeatedly, trying to force it from his body.

Then he was struck by a realisation: He could break his arm by angling his body to snap the bones and use his dull pocket knife to saw through tendon and muscle.

Ignoring the excruciating pain, Ralston carefully severed nerves, muscle and artery of his right arm just above the wrist.

Wrenching free from the rock, he wrote, was the most intense feeling of his life.

"I was really just stuck there thinking I was a dead man for six days, but then that epiphany changed everything," Ralston recalled.

Ralston credits his education as a mechanical engineer, outdoor experience and training in search and rescue for his survival.

Once free, he still had to get down a cliff and hike 13 km to reach a trailhead and the hope of rescue. Friends and family had searched for him for days, alerting authorities who were also on the lookout.

With just a mile (1.6 km) to go -- a mile he knew he was too drained to hike -- he was picked up by a rescue helicopter and flown to a hospital in Moab, Utah.

Ralston's physical recovery came in stages over about four months, during which he underwent five operations and spent 17 days in hospital. He went through challenging rehabilitation therapy to learn to live with one hand.

Within two weeks of his last operation, Ralston returned to his active lifestyle, running at elevations of 2,438 metres and backpacking at 3,658 metres. He ran a 160-km ultramarathon last year and designed a one-of-a-kind prosthetic device to use while rock climbing.

Finishing his book means he now has more time to focus on his quest to become the first person to solo-climb all 59 of Colorado's 4,267-metre peaks in winter.

"At this point my physical fitness matches or is even better than before the accident," Ralston said.

Rather than see his entrapment as an unfortunate accident, Ralston views it as an opportunity. He is touring to promote the book and giving motivational talks.

What compels him to tell his story again and again are the "dozens upon dozens" of personal stories people share with him.

"I feel I'm fulfilling a sense of greater purpose in my life," Ralston said. "I get feedback from people about how the story has helped them, has inspired them to take on new challenges, to perhaps see a different way of living.

"It may even help people find a way to cope with pain or surviving loss," he said.

He now feels capable of nearly anything.

"Day to day I have this really deep reference point of the euphoria, what it feels like to really, deeply enjoy being alive," Ralston said. "Nothing is impossible. I know that we each have the capacity to go farther than we think we can go, to do more than we think we can do.

"I've always believed that you can create your own reality, and this (experience) has confirmed this belief."

Reuters
REF: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/...951668295.html

What a guy!


Mr Mephisto



PS - Ouch!!!
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Old 10-18-2004, 10:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Holy shit. To actually be able so saw off your own hand is incredible. I would have just layed there and whimpered.
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Old 10-18-2004, 10:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yup, I remember this guy from his appearance on Letterman.

Makes you think about the endurance of the human body and spirit.
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Old 10-18-2004, 11:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Ignoring the excruciating pain, Ralston carefully severed nerves, muscle and artery of his right arm just above the wrist.
*KellyC bows to him*
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Old 10-19-2004, 02:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Did anyone else see the pictures of the what he used to do the cutting? I heard him on Anderson Cooper 360. The real reason this kid was trapped was because of the huge pair of brass balls getting caught in the rocks.

My jaw dropped while I listened to him describe what happened and watched the video he shot with his camcorder.

You know the sorts of things that gas stations giveaway, or that you come free, attached to a supersized pack of batteries? Some copy that sort of looks like a high-quality item, but is really a cheap knock off?

Well, that kid used a cheap knock-off of the leatherman tool to remove his hand. I didn't say cut becasue the blade was not sharp enough to slice his skin. He had to stab at his wrist repeatedly to break the skin to get to the point where he could rip it open with the blade. Then he had to dig around and find the arteries and nerve bundles so that he could cut the muscle around them before actually cutting them. Once he had almost everything cut, he worked himself to a position where he could apply leverage agaisnt his arm and break the bones. When the bones were broken, he cut the bits of muscle that were not accessible because the bone blocked them.

What a trooper. You seldom meet or hear of someone having the sort of courage necessary to not only do that, but to walk out, too. That kid can do anything.
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Old 10-19-2004, 03:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Amazing bravery and what a HUGE will to live.
He really did not want to die.
It's great that he can now give inspiration to others
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Old 10-19-2004, 07:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Bloody hell.. I can't even begin to comprehend what he went through there. I'm still in shock after just READING about it.
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Old 10-19-2004, 07:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I can't even begin to imagine doing that. Makes a person wonder what they would do in a situation like that.
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