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Hiker Amputee An Experienced Climber

Hiker Amputee An Experienced Climber

Posted - May 2, 2003 at 4:35 p.m.



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Keith McCord Reporting...A climber, whose arm was pinned underneath a rock in Canyonlands National Park, used a pocketknife to amputate his arm. He then hiked out and was rescued!

27-year old Aron Ralston, from Aspen, Colorado is a very experienced hiker and climber. He's scaled 49 of Colorado's 14-thousand foot peaks. Most of the time, he climbed "solo."

Last Saturday, Ralston was in the Horseshoe Canyon area, about 60 miles south of Green River. It was supposed to be a one-day hike through one of the narrow slot canyons. Again, he was by himself.

Somehow, an 800-pound boulder shifted and pinned his right arm.

Steve Swanke/Canyonlands Park Ranger: "THIS BOULDER WAS APPROXIMATELY 3 AND 1/2 FEET BY 4 AND 1/2 FEET BY TWO AND 1/2 FEET."

Ralston ran out of water on Tuesday, and by Thursday, he realized his only way out was to cut off his arm just below the elbow, and hike back out.

Two helicopters were already in the air, and luckily, the exhausted Ralston ran into two hikers from Holland, who signaled one of the choppers.

Sgt. Mitch Vetere/Emery County Sheriff's Dept.: "OBVIOUSLY WORE OUT. THE ONLY THING HE WANTED WAS WATER. WE MADE CONVERSATION WITH HIM, ASKING HIM HOW HE WAS, MAINLY TO KEEP HIM AWAKE."

Ralston was flown to a hospital in Moab, where he walked on his own into the emergency room. He was then flown to Grand Junction where he in serious condition.

Rescuers then went back into the canyon, in an attempt to retrieve what was left of his arm. But the boulder was too heavy to move.

Searchers also realized that Ralston had made the only decision he could.

Sgt. Mitch Vetere/Emery County Sheriff's Dept.: "HE HAD NO OTHER OPTION FROM TALKING WITH THE RESCUE TEAM WHO WENT BACK TO RETRIEVE THE LIMB, IF HE WOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN HIMSELF OUT OF THAT MESS, THEY WOULDN'T HAVE SEEN HIM FROM THE AIR."

Ralston's family issued a statement this afternoon, saying that he's in good spirits, and can't wait to get back into the outdoors!

This isn't the first time Aron Ralston has been close to death in the outdoors. He was caught in an avalanche in Colorado in February and was buried up to his neck.

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