Sunday, September 30, 2007

outside reading part 1 (Between a Rock and a Hard Place)

1. It's a Saturday Morning, April 26th, and Aron Ralston left his truck and set off on a bike ride along the Canyonlands National Park. This journey would take him most of the day, and in his backpack is 25 pounds of supplies and equipment. To eat, he has a gallon of water in his CamelBak hydration pouch, a one-liter Lexan bottle, two burritos, and a chocolate muffin; he's going to be hungry at the end of the day. Most of the weight, however, comes from his rapelling gear, which includes 5 total carabiners, a combination belay and rappel device, a climbing harness, his rarely used Leatherman-knockoff multi-tool (with two pocketknife blades and a pair of pliers), etc... Along with those items, Aron is carrying a CD player with several Phish CDs, some AA batteries, a digital camera, and a mini camcorder. Aron is wearing some running shoes, thick wool socks, Lycra biking shorts under a pair of beige nylon shorts, his favorite Phish t-shirt, and a blue baseball cap. Tomorrow will officialy cap his 5 day trip, and he will end it by biking a 108 mile trail called the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. He leaves his bike and begins to hike, and on his way hiking, he spots two young women and begins conversation with them. One is named Megan, she is a brunette who seemed to be the most outgoing of the two, and the other is named Kristi, who is a blond with freckles along her forehead. Both women are in their mid-twenties and both live in Moab. As they the three conversate, they learn that they all enjoy slot canyoneering. Aron states that his favorite slot canyon is by far Neon Canyon, a named branch of the Escalante River system in South Central Utah. Just a few minutes later, the three come to the first section of difficlut down-climbing, which is a steep descent where it's better to turn in and face the rock. Thirty feet later is another drop-off. After Megan has descended from this drop, she finds that her bag is soaking wet. It turns out that her hydration system hose lost its nozzle when she threw her bag over the ledge. She quickly grabs the nozzle and puts it back on, which saved her from having to return to the trailhead (though she did lose precious water). The air above them is hot and only getting hotter, while the air where they are located, down in the canyon, is crisp and cool. The three of them come to the West Fork in the canyon, which means Kristi and Megan are going to separate from Aron. The three agree on meeting up at Granary Spring Trailhead when Aron is done, being that his hike is going to be longer. Continuing on, alone, Aron begins to listen to his Phish CDs and gaze and the beautiful world. As he comes to another drop-off (where a waterfall would be if there was water) he begins to realize just how deadly his hobby can be, and how one wrong move can kill you. He conquers it. He comes to another ledge that is just slightly taller than the one he just did (about 12 feet high). However, he sees a chalkstone ledge that, if he can step on it, should get him to only 9 feet to descend. He decides to go a different way, however, and begins to dangle from the ledge. As he is dangling, he feels the stone shaking and instinctively lets go. When he looks up, he sees a boulder falling, and he can't move backwards or forwards because then he will fall off a ledge. He quickly decides to get his head out of the way, but his arm suffers. The rock pinches his right arm between itself and the wall. The pain begins to ease a little bit, but when he goes to get a drink of his water, he finds his container to be empty. Luckily, he manages to reach his one-liter bottle, but unluckily, he drinks over a third in three seconds. The farthest part of his arm that he can feel is the wrist. Aron realizes that he is "f***ed." However, he still has most of his utilities, and he begins to brainstorm ideas about how he can get out, most of which involves his friends sending out search teams for him. He keeps considering possible ways to get him out of there(self-amputation, pouring battery acid on the rock, and also to excavate the rock around his hand), and none seem appealing, or do-able, to him.
The next chapter is about him when he was younger, living with his family. He moved from Indianapolis to Colorado. Before the big move, he looked over some encyclopedia books to view where he was moving, being that he had never been west of the Mississippi River. He hated it already. The pictures of all the mountains terrified him. However, his parents reasured him that he wouldn't have to ski to school and he wouldn't have to climb a mountain just to get to his friend's house. His parents took him out there before they moved, and he decided that Colorado was not so bad after all. When he moved, he joined the ski club, and by the second day, he was racing down the hills beating all his new friends. But the fun did not stop there. That summer, he went on a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. After that two weeks, he "was poised on the brink of a love affair." He climbed his first 14,000 feet-high mountain, Longs Peak, in July of 1994 with his friend, Jon Heinrich. The mountain is the 16th highest in the sate and one of the most known. He did many more trips, such as whitewater rafting, which eventually lead to him becoming a rafting tour guide. He also graduated from college with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, a double major in French, and a minor in piano performance. One time, on a camping trip, he encountered a bear, but only suffered a few cuts on his foot (and some lost food).

2. Aron Ralston is a great person who is very intelligent and very nature savvy. By the sounds of it, he has done a whole lot of mountain work (such as treks, adventures, etc...) and seems to have a complete and utter passion for it. I feel very bad for him though because when he got his arm stuck, it was a complete freak accident that no one could have avoided. I also do like his ability to handle (or somewhat handle) the pressure as he tried to slow things down and try to figure out what was going on. As for his past, before he moved, I don't think he even remotely thought that him moving would end up giving him his greatest passion(s) in life.

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