From Tragedy to Inspiration
Aron Ralston, the climber depicted in the film 127 Hours, who amputated his arm after being trapped in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon, visited the UA, Monday, as part of the distinguished lecture series.
He was chosen by a student committee who compiles a list of possible speakers and then votes on the choices, said Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations. The distinguished lecture series is funded by student-appropriated funds released by the Associated Student Government.
Ralston wants to encourage people through the telling of his story.
“I think just in general that we have a lot of adversity in life and these are our boulders or sometimes are actual rocks,” he said. “How we react to them and respond can open doors and opportunities.”
Helping people take what could be a tragedy and turn it into a blessing is his goal, Ralston said.
“Something can be a trauma or a tragedy, but it can also be a blessing,” he said.
Before the accident Ralston left his job in order to be “a mountain man.”
“I was following my dream” he said. He did this all for his love of the outdoors.
He wants to inspire people to follow their passions.
“When I look back on it from the bottom of that canyon where I was trapped and I was going to die I realized all of the accomplishments that I have had in my life,” Ralston said. “The one thing that I had that I was most proud of was quitting and leaving to go do what I actually wanted to do.”
His accident gave him a different perspective on life.
“We also have the perspective of ‘How bad is it?’ For me, I miss a plane, am late or delayed or forget a bag or something,” he said. “Or an system melts down when I am speaking in front of 10,000 people, but did I have to drink my own urine today? No.”
Amputating his own hand wasn’t easy, but something he knew he needed to do.
“I can look at this, the amputation on my arm, and know that while I was doing something so horrific, to contemplate it as a healthy person: mobile and with our freedom and autonomy, that it would be terrifying to amputate your own arm,” he said. “Yet, I did it with a smile on my face because it meant that I was going to get out of there.”
Ralston wouldn’t change anything, he said.
This has been “the greatest gift in my life,” Ralston said.
Ralston has given hundreds of lectures since his accident more than eight years ago, including more than 60 this year. The response to his lectures has been very positive, he said.
He now has a wife and young son who enjoy mountaineering, rafting and skiing, Ralston said.
He still climbs, even becoming the first person to climb all of the highest peaks in Colorado during the winter, he said.