Lesson Learned from 127 Hours

Lesson Learned from 127 Hours

I can do everything on my own was the motto of Aron Ralston, an avid outdoorsman. He was canyoneering in Canyonlands National Park Utah when he crushed his right hand and trapped against the canyon wall and a dislodge boulder while he was descending through the canyon slot.  Aron did not tell anyone where he was going that morning of April 26, 2003.

His backpack contained 2 burritos, less than a liter of water, cheap imitation of Leatherman multi-tool, small first aid kit, a video camera, and rock climbing gear. The backpack did not contain a jacket or extra clothing because it supposed to a quick easy trip.  Shit happens.

He had 4 possible solutions:

  1. Someone would come alone, and be able to rescue him.
  2. Chip away the rock, and free his hand.
  3. Use his rope, and move the rock.
  4. If all else fail, he has to amputate his hand.

The fifth possibility is death but that was not an option.

Aron rigged the boulder with the rope, but no budge.  Then for 10 hours he chipped away the stone with his imitation tool and end up with small handful of rock dust.

He spent five days slowly sipping his small amount of remaining water and slowly eating his small amount of food. During night time, the temperature dropped to 30 degrees Celsius with no jacket. 

When he ran out of food and water, he was forced to drink his own urine. He carved his name, date of birth and the RIP (Rest in Peace) date into the sandstone canyon wall, and videotaped his last goodbyes to his family.

After waking at dawn on the 6th day (Thursday, May 1) he had a vision of a 3-year-old boy running and scooped up by a one armed man.  He understood that the vision was his future son, and decided his survival requires drastic action – to cut his arm.

Knowing that the two-inch knife from his multi-tool was too dull, he had to break his bone first using the rope and his body as leverage.  Snap! He kept telling himself, “Don’t give up!”
He applied a tourniquet above his elbow, and started amputating his arm.  Cutting through the skin was easy as cutting a butter, but hitting the veins was tough to see blood spewed out even with the tourniquet on. Then he got into the tendon, and because the knife was dull enough, he had to use the pliers from the multi-tool and twist the tendon until it finally snapped. And that was not the worst part.  Then he saw the nerve, and cut it with his knife sent a jolt of electricity to his body so strong that he almost drops the multi-tool.  The whole procedure took almost an hour and he finally applied the first aid kit.

Aron rigged the rope and finally repel 70 feet down one handed to the bottom of the canyon. He hiked 5 miles out of the canyon in the hot midday sun and encountered a family on vacation.  The family gave Aron Oreos cookie, water, and mental support, and then hurried to alert the authorities.

Aron was finally rescued six hours after amputating his arm.

Aron has an amazing will to live.  He never gave up. There is no force on earth more powerful than the will to live.

Lesson learn from Aron experience that we can apply to our life:

  1. Never buy Leatherman imitation tool. Buy the real thing. Use the right equipment for the job.
  2. Tell others your goals. If he had told someone where he was going, and when he did not show up at work on Monday somebody would start looking for him. But nobody knew. If you tell your goals to other people, then it would make others or at least yourself accountable and it will help encourage you in your journey.
  3. Don’t be a loner. If you are by yourself, it will become pretty lonely. More importantly there is power in number. You can accomplish so much more than if there is only one.
  4. Be prepared. Things may take longer than expected no matter how hard you prepare, and how well you think through the situation, it may take longer.
  5. Have a vision of your future.The vision of having a son gave him the courage to cut his arm. Everything change because vision is so real and very powerful.
  6. Do not give up.You will find solutions to the problems in your life.You will realize that if you don’t stop, you will have a chance. The minute you give up, is the minute you die either physically or mentally.

Image Source and Copyright by:  Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wikipedia 2015. Aron Ralson Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston
Mark Paul, Oct 2015. Life Leadership talk on Trilogy and Triumph

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