Despite his countless accomplishments in the outdoor space and all that he has gained from years spent climbing, mountain biking and canyoneering, Aron Ralston will always be remembered for what he lost. His name is synonymous with sacrifice, and anyone who doesn't recognize his face will certainly recognize his story.
In order to share similar inspiring stories from others, Aron has helped in creating 127definingmoments.com. The site showcases the life-changing personal accounts of people all over the world. 127 Defining Moments aims to prove that while Aron's experience may seem exceptional, we all live exceptional lives.
In May of 2003, the 27-year-old was hiking through Blue John Canyon near Moab, Utah, when he accidentally dislodged a boulder, pinning his arm to the canyon wall. Aron would spend five days in that canyon suffering from dehydration and starvation, unable to free his hand from the boulder. On the fifth day, while facing what likely seemed a certain death, he used a cheap utility tool to cut through the muscles and tendons of his forearm and leverage his body against the rock to break the bones of his forearm and free himself. The process took nearly an hour. Aron still had a 60ft rappel and eight-mile hike out of the canyon after freeing himself. He made it most of the way before a family discovered him and notified a rescue team of his whereabouts. Today he still climbs and hikes in the backcountry.
Even with his tremendous resolve and resourcefulness in the face of mortal danger, there are plenty of outspoken critics of Aron Ralston. He broke a tacit backcountry rule by not telling anyone where he was headed. Consequently, while Aron was stuck in a slot canyon scrawling his birthday and assumed day of death in the sandstone wall, no one knew he was missing. It was only when he didn't show up for work four days later that anyone suspected he might be in trouble. Some mountaineers have accused him of being selfish and arrogant by heading into the backcountry alone, and Aron isn't arguing. "I agree with the people who say to never go out alone without telling someone where you are going. Normally, I do that. I didn't this time, because I miscalculated the risks."
Despite the cries of some members in the outdoor community that Aron made one heinous mistake, he did just about everything else absolutely right. It was a miracle that he survived those five days, and he probably wouldn't have if he didn't make perfect decisions while stuck in that canyon. Aron fashioned a sling so that he could take the weight off his legs and allowed himself a few hours of sleep. He rationed his water and even stored his urine which he was later forced to drink to stave off dehydration. Even in the delirious state of the fifth day, he still had the presence of mind to properly set up a tourniquet before removing his arm and also collected his rope and gear after the amputation, knowing that he still had a 60ft rappel ahead of him.
Aron took all the proper steps to save his own life when he was stuck in Blue John Canyon, and that's a testament to his outstanding presence of mind. It's hard not to feel inspired by someone so dead-set on living.
Aron has since become an inspirational speaker and the focus of the 2010 Danny Boyle movie "127 Hours." The film recounts the five days Aron spent in the canyon and his final escape. Launching simultaneously with the film is the 127 Defining Moments Contest (http://www.127definingmoments.com/) encouraging everyone to submit the defining moments of their own lives.