Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Summary and book reviews of Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, plus links to an excerpt from Between a Rock and a Hard Place and a biography of Aron Ralston.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston
Hardcover: Sep 2004,
Paperback: Aug 2005,
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 twenty-seven-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.
Washington Post - Grace Lichtenstein
... Once he frees himself, the story accelerates into a riveting drama as he rappels one-handed down a cliff and staggers through rough terrain for miles, blood leaking through his tourniquet as he tries to find help. Aron Ralston went to Utah as just another rock jock; he emerges as a Gen X action hero.
Daily News -Sherryl Connelly
Ralston's true story is grisly and inspirational if you're the type to survive against all odds.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Donna Marchetti
Ralston's diversions into his childhood and past climbing adventures disrupt the story's momentum and are likely to appeal mainly to climbing enthusiasts. His writing, at times, can be simplistic and sentimental. And it lacks the breadth and skill of an experienced writer. That said, Ralston's courage, his introspection in the face of death and his joyful embrace of life are reason enough to read his book. He doesn't need to be Krakauer to make readers stop and think about risk, happiness and the meaning of our existence.
Ralston's prose is never gruesome, nor is it used to shock, even as he describes first breaking his forearm, and then slipping into some sort of autopilot as he cuts through muscle fibers to detach the arm. It's truly thrilling when he finishes and is free.
Booklist - Alan Moores
Starred Review. ...What makes his account of his ordeal extraordinary, too, is the detail and precision Ralston, a former mechanical engineer, brings to the telling, from the almost minute-by-minute chronology of his ordeal to topographical descriptions of the ground he's covered in his life as an outdoor adventurer.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Tracy Amazing I just finished reading it "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". Sure, he could've left out past anecdotes, but I really enjoyed how real the story felt and how much you liked the guy by the end. Yes, it was a story about a guy that gets... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kaila Between a Rock and Hard Place This book is amazing! I loved it from start to finish. It took me about 4-5 days to finish and I've read it more than twice. The thought if cutting your arm off is horrible, but with hallucinations of his future family, that really touched me. Also... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kevin introspective challenges Although the author challenges himself in terms of the life choices that he makes, it would have been a great opportunity to analyze the human condition in terms of putting oneself ahead of others. The avalanche chapter in which he never spoke to... Read More
Rated of 5
by jizzy Between A Rock And A Hard Place Extremely long for no reason.....the introduction was drawn out too far, and what's up with the climax taking forever to get too? Ii would've rather spent more time on the climax rather than the insignificant other parts.
Rated of 5
by julie BORING. It was just okay.... I didn't really like reading about all of his other adventures every other chapter. the book was just kind of long and drawn out. Not terribly interesting. Just your average book about a guy with an injury. I would NOT... Read More
Rated of 5
by person good book It was very good. I liked it. The divine aspect was very appealing to me. I hope others read this book.
would you say to those who find it
difficult to understand why you
continue to take part in outdoor
adventures after having lived through
this frightening experience?
'Adventuring in the outdoors is my
passion, and passion is not something
we control in our lives. To resume my
activities was much more natural for
me than to do otherwise, and has led
my experience in Blue John Canyon to
become a leap forward in my outdoor
development, instead of the...
Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's storytelling blaze through every page.
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