Aron Ralston recounts his life-changing experience to Eastern Sierra audiences (Photo: Kirkner)
Nearly 10 years after the incident that made him famous, Aron Ralston, the man known for amputating his own arm to escape certain death in Blue John Canyon, Utah spoke in Bishop on March 6. Listening to the vivid details of Ralston’s tale of what happened that fateful day in April 2003, one might believe that the experience had happened yesterday.
“Hell isn’t hot and crowded,” Ralston said when describing his situation. “It’s cold and lonely at the bottom of a canyon. I was standing in my own grave.”
Ralston spoke on behalf of the annual Community Reads program. His book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” was chosen as this year’s book to read. The Inyo County portion of this year’s Community Reads is winding down. It’s final performance of the two-month long program will be held on March 27 when the public is invited to a showing of Tom Brokaw’s interview with Ralston for NBC. Visit the Inyo County Superintendent of School’s website for the remaining calendar.
Mono County, however, kicked off its Community Reads program with Ralston’s presentation on Tuesday. Check out its website, http://www.monocoe.org/ or call 760.934.0031 for presentations and activities in Mono County.
Prior to Ralston’s presentation to the general public on March 6, he spoke to Inyo County school kids. Approximately 1,000 students, from elementary to high school listened to Ralston’s tale and were able to ask questions. According to Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer, the most popular question was asking Ralston to “take off his arm,” which he graciously did.
At the public presentation, some of the most interesting questions also came from young people. One young man asked if Ralston would have rather lost his leg, while another asked whether he ever thought about getting a hand transplant rather than continuing to use the prosthetic he currently wears and designed himself.
To the first question, Ralston replied that it was a bit of toss up since the different activities he’s involved with require different limbs and not having a leg would present different challenges than those he currently faces. To the second question, he explained that at the time of his accident, hand transplants were not as common as they are now.
“I got used to my image of myself with a prosthetic and didn’t feel a hand transplant was for me,” he said.
Ralston concluded the event with a book signing. People waited in line for over an hour to receive his signature in their tome.