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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) -- The climber who amputated his arm with a pocketknife to free himself from a narrow, remote canyon in Utah was improving and was scheduled for surgery Monday, hospital officials said.
Aron Ralston, 27, was hospitalized in fair condition Saturday after his six-day ordeal in Blue John Canyon near Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah.
The experienced outdoorsman would have died if he had stayed in the canyon, pinned by an 800- to 1,000-pound boulder that had shifted onto his right arm, said sheriff's Sgt. Mitch Vetere of Emery County, Utah.
St. Mary's Hospital officials said they cleaned Ralston's wound to prevent infection, and surgery Monday will close the wound.
Surgeons may have to shorten the bone so Ralston will be able to wear a prosthetic arm.
His family issued a statement Saturday through hospital vice president Dan Prinster thanking the rescuers once again.
"Every hiker, camper, climber, fisherman, hunter or casual visitor to the outdoors is a beneficiary of the dedicated efforts of search and rescue volunteers," the family said.
Ralston began what was to be a day hike April 26. He was canyoneering, where a hiker uses rock-climbing gear to negotiate narrow canyons.
He pushed his arm into a crack in the canyon wall and the boulder shifted, pinning him. He tried to use his ropes and anchors to free himself, but couldn't.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)