Aron Ralston

Boulder, Colorado

On April 26th, 2003, Aron Ralston set out on a hiking excursion by himself through Blue John Canyon in southeast Utah. While descending the lower slot, Aron dislodged a suspended chockstone he was climbing down, which subsequently crushed and pinned his right hand against the canyon wall. Because Aron was out on an extended vacation and hadn’t left word of his hiking plans, no one came searching for him.

Over the next five days, Aron Ralston sipped small amounts of his remaining water and rationed his food, while he attempted to free his arm from the weight of the 800-pound boulder. After all his other options failed, Ralston finally realized how he could use the leverage of the rock’s weight to break his bones. With the dulled blade of a cheap multi-tool, Aron finished the amputation in just over an hour, occasionally smiling at the prospect of his freedom.

With his severed arm bleeding despite an improvised tourniquet and sling, Aron continued through the slot, rappelled one-handed over a 65-foot cliff, and hiked six miles down the canyon. Still hours from his vehicle and a hundred air-miles from a hospital, Aron came across a family on vacation; they gave him food and water and accompanied Ralston another half-mile.

Miraculously, rescuers were flying over the canyon in a helicopter after having narrowed their multi-state search to the Canyonlands region with the assistance of Aron’s mother. After five days of entrapment – and five hours after amputating his arm – Aron Ralston was finally rescued.

  • Work
    • Intel
  • Education
    • Carnegie Mellon