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[Free ePUB] Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAuthor Aron Ralston –

I have read a few Mountaineering books, and as a climber surfer diver backpacker paddler all around wilderness junkie, I was quite unsettled by this book In the book, Aron Ralston is plagued by one upmanship syndrome The book should be a guide to avoiding wedging your arm between stones in desolate wilderness Rather it is a distasteful brag fest of Ralston s overzealous adventure practices Events such as these lead to the closure of recreation areas every year in suit happy America I would further critique Ralston s wilderness appreciation by the fact he had headphones on while hiking He should have carried a locator beacon instead of and auditory inhibitor On the contrary, I have yet to speak with Ralston about the book or events In place of this book, please read any of the tasteful works by Ed Viesturs, who sets an excellent example of the way in which people should behave in extreme wilderness settings. I admire Aron s strength, persistence, and drive Yet within about 40 pages of this book his bravado and obsession with near death experiences became annoying and tedious One of the most memorable parts of the book comes when he reveals that two of his friends, both experienced climbers, stopped talking to him after his reckless behavior contributed to the near death of all three of them Yet, still Aron did not learn from that painful event He still continues to put himself into danger time and again.Another telling part of the book comes when he describes a conversation he has with an expert mountaineer Aron is bragging to him about his climbs, and the expert mountaineer bruskly says that he doesn t do solo climbs.It is a free country, and therefore Aron can spend his life doing whatever he wants, he can even repeatedly brush with death However, the public does not have to romanticize him for this.To call his entrapment a tragedy isn t accurate After all, that wasn t even the deadliest situation he d gone through in the book He d seen rocks fall, had expert mountaineers tell him to always beware of falling rocks Yes, it was bad luck that this time rocks fell on him, but to say the event was unexpected really isn t true, either The odds just played out and he was there Sad, yes Tragic, not really.Yet even after losing his arm, he still has learned nothing He continues to take chances and tempt fate This really is the same mindset that heroin and gambling addicts have The only difference is that Aron doesn t break any laws.So take this tale for what it is a list of Aron s achievements, and a tale about someone who risks his life time after time and eventually gets into a situation he can t get out of scot free. Q Saying farewell is also a bold and powerful beginning c Well I m not gonna harp like oh so many clever reviewers about how the protagonist just should ve known better I do love harping and, had I known him personally, I would ve smacked him real hard but since I m an independent reviewer, I can stay away from all that silly behaviour and venture right into the land of For the love of God, what an adventure.The bear debacle made me laugh and think it might have been a sign from the universe along some lines All the deep games, new experience, pleasure, other stuff sound profound So, the story s quite the adventure of a lifetime As well as a story of what not to do in order to not have to do amputations on oneself And a story of what to do if push does come to shove Q Everything happens for a reason, and part of that beauty of life is that we re not allowed to know those reasons for certain c Yeah, yeah, yeah.I can t help thinking the protagonist might have benefited from some psychological therapy to address his search of danger and adrenaline There must have been something about his life that drove him to deathwishing Subconsciously Another thing is did this guy get some kind of birth or some other kind of brain trauma that made him a tad a lot too impulsive and or maybe a bit less than the stellar planner of his adventures There must have been some internal cause for the whole debacle, which, while extremely impressive, is even mindboggling Along the lines of How do you What do you What the fuck And this cause was definitely not of the society s broken kind You don t escape under a giant boulder You do get suffering from it so masochistic a bit This Q So many people live within unhappy circumstances, and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give someone peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future c is not the answer It s just an indication of something went wrong.So, not to be harsh or critical or anything I do love that the protagonist got out of this extremely tight spot including literally Still, I think it s perfectly possible that he could have found his ultimate challenge elsewhere science a challenging profession becoming a polyglot beating U.Bolt other professional sport whatever else As humans, we need to be challenged Sometimes, it s very difficult to find the appropriate outlet Some of us need adversity than others So I truly hope this guy finds some constructive way to challenge himself in the future without risking his or anyone else s life Q How would I behave in a situation that caused me to summon the essence of my character The tragedy inspired me to test myself I wanted to reveal to myself who I was the kind of person who died, or the kind of person who overcame circumstances to help himself and others c Sounds like something modern Raskolnikov would say Q With the darkness blinding me, I lay in my sleeping bag, fear provoking paranoia every time the faintest forest sound reached my ears c Q That boulder did what it was there to do Boulders fall That s their nature It did the only natural thing it could do It was set up, but it was waiting for you Without you coming along and pulling it, it would still be stuck where it had been for who knows how long You did this, Aron You created it You chose to come here today you chose to do this descent into the slot canyon by yourself You chose not to tell anyone where you were going You chose to turn away from the women who were there to keep you from getting in this trouble You created this accident You wanted it to be like this You have been heading for this situation for a long time Look how far you came to find this spot It s not that you re getting what you deserve you re getting what you wanted c Q You ll never find your limits until you ve gone too far c Q Mountains are the means, the man is the end The goal is not to reach the top of the mountains, but to improve the man c Q Like looking through a telescope into the Milky Way and wondering if we re alone in the universe, it made me realize with the glaring clarity of desert light how scarce and delicate life is, how insignificant we are compared with the forces of nature and the dimensions of space But rather than be bound and defeated by our insignificance, we are bold because we exercise our will anyway, despite the ephemeral and delicate presence we have in this desert, on this planet, in this universe c Hmmm I do not think Aron Ralston is a hero of any sort.Yes, he amputated his arm because he had the wherewithal and the survival skills to remain calm in this massively dire situation.However, this book is full of his tales of stupid, arrogant mistakes where he consistently fails to consider the forces and consequences of his actions He should have been killed numerous times He is responsible, at least on one occasion, for almost killing two of his best friends The entire time I was reading the book, I kept thinking, okay, maybe the lesson will sink in now Maybe he ll gain some greater understanding of the way nature works and start to respect the world he is exploring Instead, he seems to use all of these experiences as some sort of ego boosting mechanism to prove how totally awesome he is and how he is living the dream But I just find that people who say stuff like this often do so in an attempt to evade responsibility and lack a concern for other people.None of this is to say that I don t appreciate the art of taking risks and testing the limits of character and mental strength He just consistently misses all the life lessons that were presented to him in his numerous near death experiences.All in all, the book is fascinating to read and I mostly enjoyed it However, by the time he was recounting his seventh mishap where he should have been killed, I was definitely ready for him to hack his arm off and get on with it The book is well written and exciting and I would recommend it I ll probably even go see the movie, but that ll probably irritate me too The book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, is a nonfiction autobiography that demonstrates the meaning of not giving up and continuing to fight even if you have nothing left in you This book also demonstrates that we all need help and none of us are too good to do anything alone friends and family are the best supporters and helpers you ll ever have This autobiography was about the author and his many accomplishments of being a professional outdoorsman and the events leading up to his arm getting trapped between a boulder and rock wall, which resulted in him cutting off his own arm Not a spoiler, most people know about him from this being such a popular event The moment his arm got stuck goes like this, The rock smashes my left hand against the south wall my eyes register the collision, and I yank my left arm back as the rock ricochets the boulder then crushes my right hand and ensnares my right arm at the wrist, palm in, thumb up, fingers extended the rock slides another foot down the wall with my arm in tow, tearing the skin off the lateral side of my forearm Then silence The rest of the few chapters after that are flashbacks of stories of past hikes and adventures with different people in his life that have sort of led to the situation he was in right there The book continues to go from the present, meaning him being stuck with his arm, then goes back to the past I thought this book was somewhat slow at the beginning, and I didn t have much motivation to read it As I went on it got a lot better and became a much faster read To someone who isn t the most advanced hiker or outdoorsman, a lot of the equipment he talked about and terms he used sometimes had me lost, but I learned to try to picture what he was talking about in my mind because my dad does a lot of outdoor stuff and has also taught me a lot so I can relate to a lot of Aron s stories I thought this book was mainly going to be about his arm and time being trapped, but he incorporated a lot of life lessons that he dealt with and stories that he learned from After I finished the book I realized it had that meets the eye and I honestly can say I enjoyed it and didn t regret reading it I still rate it a 3 5 stars because it was somewhat difficult to get through but I recommend it to anyone, especially outdoor people, because it can teach you a lot, not only about the outdoors but also about life. WARNING This is a SUPER long review it s kind of a very long account of what my thoughts were during the entire book We are not grand because we are at the top of the food chain or because we can alter our environment the environment will outlast us with its unfathomable forces and unyielding powers But rather than be bound and defeated by our insignificance, we are bold because we exercise our will anyway, despite the ephemeral and delicate presence we have in this desert, on this planet, in this universe When I first open this book I took notice of the prologue, a short story about Blue John, its informative and interesting enough to keep my mind alive and then Aron s story begins It s surprisingly well written for a non writer and I am immediately immersed in his surroundings and thoughts, nothing is left out and I can almost feel what Aron is feeling It s sensational By the third page I ve already come across a quote that I like and I immediately write it down It adds up, but I deem it all necessary, even the camera gear I enjoy photographing the otherworldly colors and shapes presented in the convoluted depths of slot canyons and the prehistoric artwork preserved in their alcoves As the reading continues I find myself in an almost trance like state and then I reach the exact moment when Aron finds himself stuck with a boulder crushing his right arm, as he describes the panic and shock he went through I can feel my heart beat getting quicker Holy shit the voice in my head says My disbelief paralyzes me temporarily as I stare at the sight of my arm vanishing into an implausibly small gap between the fallen boulder and the canyon wall Within moments, my nervous system s pain response overcomes the initial shock Good Christ, my hand The flaring agony throws me into a panic, I grimace and growl a sharp Fuck My mind commands my body, Get your hand out of there I yank my arm three times in a naive attempt to pull it out.But I m stuck I know the end result of this accident, I know the story well but I still find myself hoping that someone will come along and find Aron and he will make it out with his arm still intact with a funny story to tell his friends but no that isn t what happened and it isn t going to happen I settle into the book at this point, completely entranced by Aron s retelling of the horrific event.It s not all bad though, there are some really good stories he tells about his climbing adventures before Blue John Canyon, I actually find myself laughing at some of the things he does I remember reading a few reviews that said Aron had a big ego and was talking himself up that he was proud of cheating death so many times and that karma had caught up to him in that canyon , I didn t agree with any of the comments except the karma one Sure enough this wasn t the first time Aron was put in a life and death situation but I don t think he was ego tistical about it, he was a climber, canyoner and skiier Hundreds if not thousands and millions of people do the same thing and relish in the adrenaline rush that these life and death situations bring Aron to me is just one of those people.I kept in my mind that when he was doing stupid things like chasing a bear and throwing rocks at it he was about 21 22, a stupid young adult that thinks he is immortal It happens The bear stalking incident, however, was described as a terrifying experience as he was being stalked by the bear, but there was one quote that made me laugh a little at Aron s panicking With the darkness blinding me, I lay in my sleeping bag, fear provoking paranoia every time the faintest forest sound reached my ears Splash, a fish jumped in the lake, and instantly my mind responded, OhmyGodthebearisbackhe sgonnaeatmeI mgonnadie as I held what I was certain would be my last breath I continue reading and following Aron through some stupid choices and then back into the canyon where he is slowly giving up on help arriving He contemplates cutting his arm off a few times but thinks it an act of suicide knowing he won t survive the trek back to his truck.I read this part and bookmark it, knowing it should be included in my review That boulder did what it was there to do Boulders fall That s their nature It did the only natural thing it could do It was set up, but it was waiting for you Without you coming along and pulling it, it would still be stuck where it had been for who knows how long You did this, Aron You created it You chose to come here today you chose to do this descent into the slot canyon by yourself You chose not to tell anyone where you were going You chose to turn away from the women who were there to keep you from getting in this trouble You created this accident You wanted it to be like this You have been heading for this situation for a long time Look how far you came to find this spot It s not that you re getting what you deserve you re getting what you wanted.My reading continues through many video testimonials and flash backs, I m reading about Aron going slightly insane, about him drinking his own urine which is described in too much detail for this young lass and I gag a little I m hearing my own heart break hoping that this guy survives even though I know he does Soon enough it s Thursday, May 1st 2003 and I brace myself because I know this is it, this is the day he cuts off his arm and I need to be ready to read it in detail He doesn t disappoint Let s just say if I ever have to cut my own arm off I am fairly confident that this book has taught me how And then I read this A crystalline moment shatters, and the world is a different place Where there was confinement, now there is release Recoiling from my sudden liberation, my left arm flings downcanyon, opening my shoulders to the south, and I fall back against the northern wall of the canyon, my mind is surfing on euphoria As I stare at the wall where not twelve hours ago I etched RIP OCT 75 ARON APR 03, a voice shouts in my head I AM FREE I almost cheer but it s 1am and everyone is in bed so I hold it in, continue smiling stupidly and follow Arons trek He finds people, my smile gets bigger The helicopter comes I almost break my face from my smile I am in awe at this man and his courage and strength in survival I cry when he talks to his mother and by the end of the book I have a new appreciation for life Everything this man went through did not diminish his spirit.The closing line was perfect Saying farewell is also a bold and powerful beginning This book was beyond anything I can describe but I ve tried my best I truly think everyone needs to read this, regardless of if you think you know the story or not.If you have made it this part of the review then sigh with relief I am finished. Considering that a I already knew the full story of Ralston s days trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon, b I had already seen the brilliant 2010 film made of his experience 127 Hours, starring James Franco, a favorite of mine ever since his days as Daniel on Freaks and Geeks , c this book could fall into either of the dodgy genres of celebrity memoir or jock s adventure story, and d the title is such a horrible use of a clich , I wasn t expecting this book to be the well written and utterly gripping reading experience that it turned out to be I ll be disappointed if I learn that Ralston had a ghost writer I want to believe that he can write this well There s no reason why not, anyway he was top of his class at Carnegie Mellon in mechanical engineering and French, and he has a great memory and a lot of common sense.Indeed, I think Ralston s intelligence along with his top physical fitness was a big part of what saved him in the end His engineer s grasp of basic physics gave him the ability to construct a pulley system even though it didn t work, it made him feel like he was moving towards an escape , his outdoor adventures and time with a search and rescue group informed his instincts about threats and aids to his survival, his medical knowledge was sufficient to guide him through a rudimentary surgery on himself, and his ability to recall vivid details of past family occasions and sporting escapades kept his mind on pleasant memories rather than on the obdurate reality of his situation.Ralston alternates taut present tense chapters chronicling the details of his crisis with laid back chapters recalling other major climbing and skiing exploits from his adventure filled 27 years I m not sure why, but this approach was likened to Tarantino s films in a number of reviews and in Ralston s own acknowledgments section It would be easy to dismiss him as a dumb, foolhardy kid he was stalked by a bear and almost trapped in a serious avalanche long before he ever entered Blue John Canyon alone but instead I admired him for his pursuit of the fullness of life His chapters about climbing and skiing were possibly a bit too technical for laypeople I tired of the sportsman s jargon and the names of all the pieces of gear and types of mountain features Just when I was getting weary of these interludes, about halfway through, Ralston cleverly changed tactics, now devoting the alternating chapters to the nascent rescue attempt, as his family and friends realized he was missing and involved law enforcement and National Park officials.Even though I knew Ralston would survive, and I had seen a film representation of the grisly method of his escape, I still found the last few chapters very suspenseful The quality of the writing is such that readers feel they are right there in the canyon with him, trapped and growing hopeless by the hour Ralston had written his own epitaph, divvied up his belongings and his ashes through video messages to his family He was ready to accept death But then he had a vision one that was somehow different from his hallucinations of flying up out of the canyon to meet friends, or his so real you could almost taste it waking dreams about ice cold beverages He saw himself giving a piggyback ride to a little boy, with the stump of his right arm holding the boy steady, and somehow he knew that this was his future son, in their future home The assurance that he still had life ahead of him gave him the motivation he needed to start the amputation in earnest.It may sound trite, but ultimately the book was a cogent tribute to the strength of the human spirit Without a spiritual component to his existence, Ralston could easily have succumbed to dehydration, starvation, hypothermia, or shock Instead he survived the ordeal, got married and had the prophesied son, continues to climb mountains with a special prosthetic attachment, and travels around giving motivational speeches for a cool 25,000 a pop Not bad for a daredevil who made the reckless mistake of going climbing alone without telling anyone where he was heading Though I don t think I could ever manage his kind of athletic feats, I do envy him his experiences of pushing his body to its outer limits, and living life right on the knife edge of death This review originally appeared at Bookkaholic. A Day By Day Account Of Aron Ralston S Unforgettable Survival Story In April , Whilst Hiking In The Utah Canyons, He Was Trapped By The Hand For Six Days By An Pound Boulder Finally, He Faced A Terrible Decision He Had Cut Off His Hand Or Face Death Aron Ralston is probably the stupidest outdoorsman I ve ever heard of Being married to a climber, I have some insight on how to treat the rock You don t just leap onto it and hope you make it to the top of the route You prepare You double check your gear You scope out the climb YOU TELL PEOPLE WHERE YOU ARE GOING.I m the same age Ralston was when he got stuck in the slot canyon, and I can t imagine being so reckless His entire book recounts how egotistical and selfish he is I ve known guys like him, and I ve hated them too.Not only does Ralston endanger his own life time and again, but the lives of those who pull him out of rivers or avalanches when he literally leaps without looking He s just a spoiled kid who thinks nature is a playground undeserving of some respect.I skipped through a lot of the flashbacks because it became obvious without thoroughly reading them that Ralston is a moron He is beyond lucky he survived in the slot canyon, and I only wish he d actually learned something from the experience It seems he just considers it another notch in his belt another manifestation that he is immortal and can do anything He is not a skilled outdoorsman, despite his supposed claims to fame He is just unbelievably lucky at surviving. First of all, God what a story.If you have not seen the movie, Aron is best known as that guy that had to cut off his own arm While hiking in a canyon a rock smashes his arm and he is stuck almost a week with very low food and water until he amputates his own arm in order to survive.Now this is an odd reading experience It is one of the few times where the movie is much better then the book, and the oddness compounds when Aron Ralston is writing a true account of his own experiences How could it be that I like the fictional character better It s not shown in the movie but Aron had quite a few brushes with death before his fated encounter with the boulder 1 He is chased and stalked by a hungry bear after trying to take the bear s picture in Winter.2 He almost falls off a mountain after deciding to slide down in his snow pants.3 After cannon balling into the Colorado River without a life jacket, he not only almost kills himself but he almost drowns his two friends that try to save him.So do I think that Aron deserved his fate in that canyon That he got what was coming to him God no But at the same time I think Dumb Dumb thumbed his nose at the gods one time too many This is one of the few times where I recommend the movie over the book Danny Boyle is a better director than Aron is a writer His prose is quite poor The movie is incredible You are trapped with James Franco down in that canyon It s an incredible story and one I won t forget anytime soon.