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.
Aron Ralston, Media Appearances
Aron Ralston has made innumerable appearances in the media. On July 21, 2003, Aron was on The Late Show with David Letterman, and again sat down to interview with Dave in September of 2004. Ralston spoke with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show on December 7th, 2010. On October 6, 2004, he appeared on Ireland’s The Late Late Show and the following month he interviewed with Andrew Denton on the Australian interview show Enough Rope.
On September 10, 2004, Aron Ralston’s remarkable story was featured on a two-hour edition of Dateline NBC titled “Desperate Days in Blue John Canyon,” hosted by Tom Brokaw. He has appeared twice on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Early Show. Over the past decade, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Katie Couric Show, The Jane Pauley Show, CNN’s American Morning with Bill Hemmer, Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN Saturday Morning, and CNBC with Deborah Norville have all hosted Aron to share his experiences with their audiences.
Aron Ralston documented his experience in an autobiographical memoir entitled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, published by Atria Books on September 7, 2004. It reached #3 on The New York Times Hardcover Non-Fiction list. It hit #1 in New Zealand and Australia, and is the #7 best-selling memoir of all-time in the United Kingdom.
In 2006, Aron Ralston was a panelist alongside Burt Reynolds, Jerome Bettis, Ty Murray, Triple-H, and Eddie Murray in Miller Lite’s “Man Laws” ad campaign. Ralston was a contestant on the U.S. television game show Minute to Win It with Guy Fieri, where he won $125,000 for Wilderness Workshop. The double episode aired on February 23, 2011, on NBC.
In The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror XXII” episode, Aron Ralston provides his voice as a 911 dispatcher receiving Homer’s panicked phone call after getting trapped in a similar situation to Ralston himself. The episode aired on October 30, 2011.
He took part in the reality show Alone in the Wild, where he had to survive for a week on a waterless island with only a bag of supplies and a video camera. The episode aired November 9, 2011, on Discovery UK.
On May 15, 2011, Aron Ralston delivered the commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon University for the graduating class of 2011. When his alma mater invited him back to speak again on May 19, 2013, it was the first time the University ever hosted a commencement speaker twice.
In 2012, on the Comedy Central Show Tosh.O, Aron appeared with host Daniel Tosh and climber Jason Kruk in a sketch.