Grand Junction, Colorado. May 3, 2003
AP Wire Services
This parody was written the few days after Aron Ralston was found. I am a great admirer of his. His book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” is quite good.
A climber who amputated his arm with a pocketknife to free himself from a narrow, remote canyon in Utah was driven by a strong will to survive, a rescuer said yesterday. The rescuer, who admitted to vomiting at the sight of Aron Ralston’s severed arm as Ralston calmly carried it with his other good arm, told authorities that he was “shocked out of his Timberlands” when he came upon Ralston as he walked out of the deep canyon he had been pinned in for six days.
Apparently Ralston had finally decided that if he did not self-amputate his arm below the elbow, he would have died and been “nibbled on by every vermin this side of the Front Range,” as he was quoted saying. A Park Ranger, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there may yet be a legal battle over the rights to the severed arm.
“When the hiker cut his arm off on National Park lands, he may have waived the rights to it. We have seen a marked jump in tourist traffic and I can tell you that there is a growing camp that would like to see the limb left where it was originally lodged. It would be encapsulated in a temporary Plexiglas box while a more permanent structure could be built.” There was no word whether a red velvet rope would keep curious hikers from leaving skate industry decals on the box as a type of tribute to Ralston.
The hiker had been canyoneering in a tight, narrow section of Utah’s Badlands National Park in southeastern Utah when the 800-1000 pound rock shifted onto his right arm as it was wedged into a small crack. Ralston, an experienced outdoorsman, had told no one where he was going because, “then they just come and get you if you sleep in one extra day.” He had run out of food after two days and water after four.
“The biggest trouble I had,” he said, “was opening those freeze dried packages with one hand and my teeth.” When the accidental rescuer came upon him late yesterday, he was complaining of a chipped tooth and asked that he be allowed to see a dentist before consulting with, he described,
“those orthopedic nerds who coveted a spot as the team doctor for the American Gymnastic Team.”
The man who Ralston stumbled upon was hiking approximately one hundred yards in front of his wife and two teenage sons. After vomiting, he called his Salt Lake based company’s secretary and had her summon a military helicopter. Since the rescuer (who refused to give his name, citing legal reasons) did not know how to use the GPS system strapped to his L.L. Bean web belt, Ralston walked him through the set up procedure so that the co-ordinates could be relayed to the NFS chopper. When Ralston asked how long he had been hiking, the wife, who was also in the bushes vomiting at the sight of the severed limb, screamed out, “The fucking H2 is right there Marvin, in the fucking parking lot next to the kiosk where you were arguing with the ranger over the $4 per day, per person entry fee.”
When Ralston was finally airlifted to a Salt Lake City, Utah military hospital at the request of Norman Schwarzkopf, who heard about the story while in Salt Lake doing a book signing, Ralston asked only for an apple juice with no ice and an extra bag of salted pretzels.
Reportedly, the outdoor retailer REI is offering to pay for all of Ralston’s medical costs in return for the placement of a small decal on his carbon fiber prosthetic and 24 store appearances. The knife he used to severe his own arm will be on display at the Smithsonian for two weeks before going on tour with the Guns and Ammo Distributor show.
When asked how he got the courage to cut off his own arm, Ralston told David Letterman, “It wasn’t that hard really, kind of like cutting a chicken wing before you toss it on the bar-b-cue. Only without the fork to hold the wing still. That’s what the big rock was doing for me.” Ralston then pulled his bandages off and showed his new red-veined stump to the camera just before the network cut to a North Face commercial.
In a follow up interview with Barbara Walters, the aging TV personality asked Ralston if it hurt “really, really bad,” the one arm hiker only replied that he’d like to get his knife back before Labor Day, if possible.