May 2, 2003

Climber Resorts to Amputation to Free His Arm From Boulder

From Associated Press




MOAB, Utah A Colorado climber amputated part of his arm Thursday, five days after becoming pinned by a boulder, and he was hiking to safety when he was spotted by searchers, authorities said.

Aron Ralston, 27, of Aspen, was in serious condition at a hospital in Grand Junction, Colo.

Ralston was climbing Saturday in Blue John Canyon, adjacent to Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, when a 200-pound boulder fell on him, pinning his right arm, authorities said.

He ran out of water Tuesday and on Thursday morning, he decided that his survival required drastic action.

Using a pocketknife, he amputated his arm below the elbow, applied a tourniquet and administered first aid. He rigged anchors, fixed a rope and rappelled to the canyon floor. He hiked downstream and was spotted by a helicopter. The search for Ralston began Thursday morning, after authorities were notified he was four days overdue for work. Ralston was described by authorities as being in exceptional physical condition.

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