I hope 127 Hours wins every Oscar that it is up for. It is just that good. The King’s Speech was phenomenal as well, but I could identify with this one.
I went to see the movie with a hiking buddy of mine and our wives and youngest kids. We are fortunate to live in Colorado where hiking is a way of life and trails from the easiest to the most extreme are at your fingertips. Each year we read about dozens of dramatic rescues, but there has never been a story quite like this.
He and I have done some magnificent hikes over the years, including the extremely difficult Kalalau Trail twice along the Napili coast of Kauai. Both times we had my oldest two boys and once his oldest two girls (only one went the second time). We are now planning a third trip, this time with our youngest in tow. We felt they were ready for a movie like this and we were right. They both (14) loved it.
For those of you that don’t know the story, Aron Ralston, 27 at the time, was hiking in the Canyonlands National Park, Utah when he slipped and fell in a narrow slot canyon and his right arm became wedged under a half-ton boulder. After being stuck for 5 days he amputated his arm to gain his freedom and save his life.
My friend an I always talk about gear, the right stuff to take on a hike depending on related factors. I remember being impressed with the scene after Ralston got stuck when he laid out all the gear he had with him, similar to the scene in Apollo 13, to decide what he could use to try to free himself.
His gear bag was perfect lacking only his Swiss army knife, the one thing that would have made his horrific amputation of his right forearm less barbaric. He could have used a satellite locator beacon that is now common equipment on wilderness hikes or back country skiing, but in all likelihood that wouldn’t have saved his arm.
I’ve never faced a life or death experience like Ralston did. It is impossible for anyone to speculate what they would have done in a similar situation. His calm in staring right death right between the eyes was remarkable. He tried everything possible to extricate himself from that boulder. Only when he reached the final life or death decision point, aided in part by delusion I’m quite certain, did he choose to go down fighting. And he won.
The one mistake Ralston did make happened before the accident, not telling anybody where he was going. It’s a cardinal rule of hiking, but we’ve all done it. He’d been to the Canyonlands several times before and he was just out for a day hike, so why bother? Who would ever think a half-ton boulder that had withstood the test of geologic time would give way right at that exact time you happen to step on it?
I thoroughly enjoy movies that cause you to think and this story is one of them. It has caused me to revisit several hikes I’ve taken and likely will change the way I prepare for the next one. This is just a remarkable movie that everyone should see.