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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: My Survival in Blue John Canyon

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  18,845 ratings  ·  1,781 reviews
The unforgettable survival story of the year -- the astonishing, day-by-day account of Aron Ralston's terrible accident, self-amputation, rescue and recovery. On Saturday, 26 April 2003, Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old outdoorsman and adventurer, set off for a day's hike in the Utah canyons. Eight miles from his truck, he found himself in the middle of a deep and remote canyon ...more
Published October 4th 2004 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published August 31st 2004)
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Lori Summers 1. He had his own goals for his hike
2. He was maneuvering down a slot canyon and hung off a chockstone over a drop, but the stone torqued and fell…more
1. He had his own goals for his hike
2. He was maneuvering down a slot canyon and hung off a chockstone over a drop, but the stone torqued and fell and trapped his arm against the canyon wall.
3. I'd die. For sure. It's kind of a miracle he didn't. He just miraculously timed it exactly right - if he'd waited any longer he wouldn't have lived through the hike out, if he'd done it sooner, rescue wouldn't have been close enough to get to him in time.(less)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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There is only one character in this book, and that character is, you guessed it, Aron Ralston. Between a Rock and a Hard Place is Ralston's account of his ordeal pinned to a canyon wall by a half-ton chockstone in Blue John Canyon. He alternates between chapters telling of the delirium of those five days and the choices he must make, and a sort of "how I came to be the way I am" recounting of his life story. The irony of the book reveals itself to the reading pretty early on. A seemingly random accid ...more
Feb 04, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few Mountaineering books, and as a climber/surfer/diver/backpacker/paddler/all around wilderness junkie, I was quite unsettled by this book. In the book, Aron Ralston is plagued by one-upmanship syndrome. The book should be a guide to avoiding wedging your arm between stones in desolate wilderness. Rather it is a distasteful brag-fest of Ralston's overzealous adventure practices. Events such as these lead to the closure of recreation areas every year in suit-happy America. I would ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I do not think Aron Ralston is a hero of any sort.
Yes, he amputated his arm because he had the wherewithal and the survival skills to remain calm in this massively dire situation.
However, this book is full of his tales of stupid, arrogant mistakes where he consistently fails to consider the forces (and consequences) of his actions.
He should have been killed numerous times. He is responsible, at least on one occasion, for almost killing two of his best friends.
The entire time
Ben Wand
Jan 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I admire Aron's strength, persistence, and drive. Yet within about 40 pages of this book his bravado and obsession with near-death experiences became annoying and tedious. One of the most memorable parts of the book comes when he reveals that two of his friends, both experienced climbers, stopped talking to him after his reckless behavior contributed to the near death of all three of them. Yet, still Aron did not learn from that painful event. He still continues to put himself into danger time a ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WARNING: This is a SUPER long review; it's kind of a very long account of what my thoughts were during the entire book.
"We are not grand because we are at the top of the food chain or because we can alter our environment - the environment will outlast us with its unfathomable forces and unyielding powers. But rather than be bound and defeated by our insignificance, we are bold because we exercise our will anyway, despite the ephemeral and delicate presence we have in this desert, on this p
Hailey Hoffman
The book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston, is a nonfiction autobiography that demonstrates the meaning of not giving up and continuing to fight even if you have nothing left in you. This book also demonstrates that we all need help and none of us are too good to do anything alone; friends and family are the best supporters and helpers you’ll ever have. This autobiography was about the author and his many accomplishments of being a professional outdoorsman and the event
Considering that: a) I already knew the full story of Ralston’s days trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon, b) I had already seen the brilliant 2010 film made of his experience (127 Hours, starring James Franco, a favorite of mine ever since his days as Daniel on Freaks and Geeks), c) this book could fall into either of the dodgy genres of celebrity memoir or jock’s adventure story, and d) the title is such a horrible use of a cliché, I wasn’t expecting this book to be the well-written and utterly gripping rea(127 ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of survival stories
First of all, God what a story.

If you have not seen the movie, Aron is best known as "that guy that had to cut off his own arm." While hiking in a canyon a rock smashes his arm and he is stuck almost a week with very low food and water until he amputates his own arm in order to survive.

Now this is an odd reading experience. It is one of the few times where the movie is much better then the book, and the oddness compounds when Aron Ralston is writing a true account of his
Aug 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Aron Ralston is probably the stupidest outdoorsman I've ever heard of.

Being married to a climber, I have some insight on how to treat the rock. You don't just leap onto it and hope you make it to the top of the route. You prepare. You double-check your gear. You scope out the climb. YOU TELL PEOPLE WHERE YOU ARE GOING.

I'm the same age Ralston was when he got stuck in the slot canyon, and I can't imagine being so reckless. His entire book recounts how egotistical and selfish he is. I
May 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am going to go easy on my review here, because the man did have to cut off his own hand, but I really didn't like this book and mostly because I didn't like the author.

He (my guess is, unwittingly) does not give a flattering portrayal of himself. The autobiographical background chapters of the book are not enjoyable to read and basically paint him as an immature hot-dogger, who consistently takes unecessary risks endangering his life and the lives of others.

He definitely has forti
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in survival stories.
Recommended to Elaine by: Some friends lent it to my mom and my mom lent it to me.
In Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Aron Ralston tells his true and amazing survival story. Hiking in Blue John Canyon one Saturday afternoon (April 26, 2003 to be exact), Aron, an experienced mountaineer, got trapped when a 800lb boulder came loose and pined his right hand to the canyon wall. Aron usually left a detailed map of where he was going with someone so that, if the need came, they would be able to find him quickly. On this trip, however, he did not, as it was suppose to be a simple h ...more
(4.0) Well-written account of a trying experience

I don't see any acknowledgment of assistance in writing this book, and since he graduated summa from Carnegie Mellon, he's probably a bright guy, so I think he may have actually written this himself. He also gets pretty jargony (and specific!) about several of his more harrowing maneuvers out on mountaintops. I wouldn't expect a ghost writer to allow that to happen. If he did indeed write this himself, it makes the read that much bette
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I understand why people love or hate this book. I know some people can't get over the perceived selfishness of a lifestyle in which cheating death is just that, and I get where they're coming from; I just disagree. I also get that people think there's too much ego in this book, and no great lesson is learned by the author. The ego doesn't bother me, and I would argue that we're all smack dab in the middle of learning life's lessons, and none of us can be sure of what exactly we're learning. I th ...more
Brie Rainney
Aron Ralston used Between a Rock and a Hard Place as a record of his memoirs being trapped in a narrow canyon, where a rock was pinning his hand to the canyon wall. At least that’s what the story should have been about. Instead Aron used this book to brag about his recklessness and willingness to endanger himself and others. Overall I would say this book was poorly executed.
Aron Ralston is very obviously not a writer. He was just one of those people that was put in a horrendous situation,
Chad Sayban
Oct 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Aron Ralston took great joy in pushing his limits in the vast untamed reaches of the natural world. Whether surfing, mountain biking or any other athletic pursuit, Aron was always most at home challenging himself physically. But on April 26, 2003, he nearly met his end in Blue John Canyon, Utah while rock climbing all alone when a boulder dislodged and crushed his right hand pinning him to the canyon wall. Miles from his truck with nobody aware of his location and no ability to contact help, Aro ...more
Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Aron Ralston,

What an amazing story. I find it a little ironic that I picked it up and read and finished it at the same month/time the accident occurred. I was amazed at your experiences and stamina and wanted to go camping after reading it. I'm not for winter camping, but I love being in the mountains. After reading about risk after risk you would take, I started to get a little disgusted that you kept putting your life into threatening situations. I came to the same conclusion
Stephan van der Linde
This is the vehement story of mountaineer Aron Ralston who always, for he starts an expedition, tells his friends and family where he's going to climb.

Just not this time, may 2003, in Utah's Bluejohn Canyon, he falls into a cave and by the most uncredible bad luck his hand gets stuck between a big massive rock.

This book describes Ralston's struggle against thirst, hunger, desperation, pain, stress and anxiety, because nobody knows where he is.

His situation keeps getting
Jason Kurtz
Ralston became a media sensation due to his dramatic accident, and his dynamic charisma. Ralston had an interesting perspective on the world before he was forced to sever his arm to save his life. Trapped in a slot canyon in a Utah desert for five nights and six days gives him a sense of clairity that he compares to a second adolescence. His life after the accident became somewhat of a circus, and this story is not only about the accident, but his thougths on why it occurred, and how his life ha ...more
I saw the film and was inspired to read the book because I wanted to really FEEL what was going through Aron Ralston's head through his ordeal.
His book doesn't just focus on the 127 hours he spent trapped under the rock, he dissects his whole life up to that point, recalling memories and events as well as people who have crossed his path. The worst part in the book is, predictably, when he finally decides to amputate his own arm- as graphic as it seemed on film, reading about it made me fe
Nov 12, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was frustraiting to read this book. This guy makes so many crucial mistakes I am surprised he didn't end up dead. As an outdoorman, it's hard to read about foolish mistake after foolish mistake and zero common sense.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Note on my review below: I found out yesterday that Aron Ralston did marry and have a son, but that he has since been divorced, acquired a girlfriend, had another child, and been arrested for domestic abuse. Evidently, he still hasn't made much progress in his relationships. Here is the review I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

I can’t remember the last time a book mesmerized me so completely. I skimmed it the first time, just to see what happened, although I’d heard the story already. Then I starte
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to reveal to myself who I was: the kind of person who died, or the kind of person who overcame circumstances to help himself and others.

This is a story that, by all accounts, should not have been told in the first-person. How Aron Ralston managed to survive six days trapped beneath that boulder, with his health, sanity and spirit in tact is beyond me. He's definitely strong, determined and more than a little lucky, but I couldn't stop one thought from forming in the back of my mind as
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like survival stories, adventurers, mountaineers
Now, I will start first by saying I saw the movie, 127 Hours first.

Of course, I then had to read the book. Usually the book is much better, but the movie is one of my favourites and Aron's fight to survive really resonated with me- whereas the book, although had mostly good points, it also has some flaws.

His adventures:

As other reviewers have said, much of this book seems to be a filler of Aron's boastful stories of adventures and near-death experiences. At first they were really i
Eric Paulsen
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of you have seen 127 Hours, a 2010 film that took the adventure docudrama world by storm. James Franco magnificently portrays Aron Ralston, a man trapped in the vast desert of Moab for 127 hours in the most dire of circumstances- virtually no water, no food, no sleep, and the small inconvenience of having his hand stuck in between a slot canyon he was traversing, and a half-ton boulder. As all of you know, and hopefully will not be shocked at this spoiler alert, he amputates his own hand in ...more
Jun 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Most people have heard of the story of the man who is hiking in southern Utah, gets his arm caught by a falling boulder and has to cut off his hand to escape. I saw the Dateline on this right after it happened and was inspired by his story. The book, though, has given me a completely different perspective. The first few chapters were exciting, describing his hike and the fall of the boulder. Then, Aron continues to flashback to other adventures that he has had...and there are a lot. In every one ...more
Feb 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Minh Minimum
Right off the bat, I want to say that I wish no harm to anyone, but this kid was headed for disaster and didn't seem to mind if he took others with him. This book is page after page of his blatant disregard for himself, others and nature. Beside his poor choice in music, he seems to thrive on just plain poor choices. I'm happy that he had the wear with all and physical strength to survive what would of been a horrible situation for anyone, but did he learn anything from it? Loosing his arm is ju ...more
Sam Brannigan
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s a shame what Hollywood did to this story! Another book that beats the film!
Tom Mulpagano
I wanted to really like this story, or maybe I should say Aron Ralston, due to the nature of his epic battle of mind and body versus nature. A very compelling story, well told, and very read-able as well. So why the 2 stars? Well, the longer the story went, the more I got the feeling that it was the story of a reckless individual who repeatedly, and needlessly got himself and unfortunately sometimes others, into life-threatening and in one case life -ending, situations. Reading this book is a bi ...more
May 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this book was not very enjoyable. Aron, a experienced climber finds himself in an incident that could end his life. His right arm is crushed by a boulder. Trapped for 127 hours, Aron must put up a fight that could save his life.
I honestly didn't enjoy this book. However, I'm sure some people might have. Maybe it's just that I'm not a huge fan of memoirs. Despite that, I felt the book was too long based on the main conflict of the story. The book is about 350 pages and is way too long.
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Constructing Big Questions 1 1 May 16, 2019 08:44AM  
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Aron Ralston grew up in the Midwest before moving to Colorado when he was twelve, a place where he became an avid outdoorsman. In 2002, he gave up a career as a mechanical engineer in New Mexico and moved to Aspen, Colorado, where among other things he continued his attempt to climb the fifty-nine Colorado peaks of more than 14,000 feet solo in winter (he's more than three-quarters through). Since ...more
“It's me. I chose this. I chose all of this — this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. I’ve been moving towards it my whole life.” 116 likes
“Everything happens for a reason, and part of that beauty of life is that we're not allowed to know those reasons for certain.” 51 likes
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