Mountain climbing is hazardous. As a profession, it allows people to map out previously unexplored areas of the Earth, ones we can see from high above but need to know more intimately down along the elevated ground.
It results in many lost lives and, occasionally, lost limbs as a hobby. Most people think the most dangerous part of climbing a mountain is falling from the top.
But there are all kinds of more minor problems than the mountaintop, which can still cause a slight fall to result in a significant problem.
Aron Ralston knows very well about some of those substantial problems and the limbs that can be lost from a simple mistake.
Exactly one arm, in his case. This daring and experienced “canyoner” was an expert mountain climber and cliff scaler until, in 2003, he met a specific canyon that proved too dangerous.
And the only thing more dangerous than climbing mountains is climbing them alone, which he did. With no one around for miles and miles, he knew there was only one way to stay alive.
He could die in the barely passable crevice of a steep ravine or work his way out if only he had a narrower profile. Narrow by about one shoulder.
10 /10 Born To Climb
Aron was born in October of 1975 in Marion, Ohio, one of the least mountainous places in the United States.
However, his family moved to Denver – the peak of all Mountain States – where he got his first taste of outdoorsmanship with skiing and backpacking.
After a degree in mechanical engineering and French from Pittsburgh, he focused entirely on outdoorsmanship, studying abroad and working as a rafting guide in summers.
9 /10 The Low Life
Ralston didn’t go for the highest highs right out the gate. He spent about five years in the late 90s working for Intel in various cities, including Tacoma, Albuquerque, and Ocotillo, Arizona, until he started to feel burnt out.
He quit in 2002 and, to prove how serious he was about his rising career as a climber, he climbed Mount Denali – otherwise known as Mount McKinley – in Alaska.
He moved back to Colorado to make a whole life out of climbing mountains for his next challenge.