Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place was something that I honestly never wanted to read, mostly because I’m a baby and just the thought of gore makes my head spin. I knew where it was headed–the cover gives away the ending in just one picture–and I’ve also heard of James Franco’s role in 127 Hours. I immediately put it on my “Never Going to Watch This Movie” list (this list also includes all the Saw movies and anything with Adam Sandler in it), but here I was reading the book. So I knew that Ralston cut his arm off with a dull pocket knife blade after suffering through a complete and total canyoneering accident. Even thinking of it made me feel like I was losing my balance. But I’m also a compulsive garbage digger and I happened upon this book. Call it fate, call it disgusting, but now the rest is simply history.
After sitting on my shelf for close to six months, I finally read this book because I had nothing else to read. The experience overall was fine, I guess. It was over 300 pages and moved very slowly. It took me months to read because I found myself utterly bored and distracted quite frequently throughout it. He also has more of a scientific mind and focuses on the most minute details to his situation and the story. The way he describes the situation he found himself in wasn’t very interesting and was hard to picture, and that’s even using the pictures that were included throughout the book as reference. He uses terminology that you won’t understand if you’re not experienced with climbing or outdoor adventure. I’ve been climbing and hiking plenty and I still barely had any idea of what he was talking about at certain points. I honestly think this story could have been summed up in 120 pages, if that, but there was an immense amount of backstory.
The backstory was probably his most incriminating information and just proved how reckless and immature Ralston could be, making it so that this accident didn’t come as a total and utter surprise to me. He constantly tempted fate throughout his life, doing solo winter fourteener hikes through avalanche-prone areas as well as plenty of other acts where it seemed like he thought about the consequences of his actions long after he had already committed to them. Then he kind of tried to laugh it off like, “Oh boy, isn’t adventure FUN?” while everyone around him was left cleaning up his mess and rolling their eyes. There are multiple times where he talks about how he doesn’t just do these sorts of adventures for bragworthy purposes while coming across as if he’s bragging. I got to a certain point in the book where I felt annoyed by him.
Overall I thought the book was pretty lackluster and simply a story about a somewhat spoiled guy who got INSANELY lucky. It got interesting for me once he finally started talking about his friends beginning the search for him, although that whole thing seemed very privileged and fortunate as well. His parents were able to pull enough strings so that a helicopter was flown out to search for him the day after they reported him missing, but it was all done in a polite way full of plenty of luck and smiles and “please and thank you’s.” It feels like something is just missing from that part of the story.
So yeah, it’s great and frankly miraculous that he even survived that long. Very impressive, but also…eh. Not my kind of story. Oh, and I definitely skipped over every gory, overly-detailed scene of him sawing his arm off and I don’t regret it even a little bit. Gross, gross, no thanks.