Reading While Flying

outsideSo, another thing about flying: I’m almost always glued to the window to watch the geography below. But I made an impulse newsstand buy before I got on the flight in Oakland that distracted me a good part of the flight: Outside Magazine’s September issue. The cover story is a first-person account by Aron Ralston of how he became trapped while scrambling through a Utah canyon last year when a boulder fell and pinned his right arm to a canyon wall. He freed himself after six days, but only after he managed to amputate his hand. Even sort of knowing how the story comes out, it was a gripping, extraordinarily well told story (just an excerpt from a book due out this month), and I found myself really admiring this guy not for his physical courage, which was considerable, but for his skill and quick-wittedness in assessing his situation and trying to resolve it. And no, he doesn’t shrink from his own responsibility for the event. The boulder falling was bad luck. But he had left no word of his whereabouts and certainly would have died if he hadn’t been able to finally extricate himself.

2 Replies to “Reading While Flying”

  1. This was one of the best magazine articles I’ve read in a long time. Looking forward to the book, because I want to know how he made it to safety afterwards (not detailed in the Outside story). I’m setting my shiny new Tivo for Dateline tonight… Ralson’s going to be on, telling the story again. What’s intriguing (besides going back to the site, etc.) is that they’ve got audio and video Ralston shot of the ordeal with his own video camera, when he thought he was surely dying. Should be painful and riveting Friday night television.

  2. Yeah, the media elements that this guy provides himself are incredible. The opening spread for the Outside piece is a black-and-white still of Ralston trapped; it’s a picture he took with his free hand (and reading the article, it’s utterly astonishing — probably an overused phrase, but it fits here — how much stuff he managed to do with just one hand) with the digital camera he had in his backpack.

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