Ralston no hero
Dear Editor:Tim Mutrie recently reported (The Aspen Times, March 11) that, after seven years, Aron this month set a winter solo mountaineering record in Colorado by climbing all of the state’s fourteeners.None of the three mountaineers quoted in this article refer to Ralston’s long history of recklessness in the mountains. This history is well documented in Aron’s book, which also recounts his canyoneering accident in 2003. Ralston was forced to self-amputate part of his right arm when it was trapped by a loose boulder in Canyonlands National Park (Utah). When describing this accident on Australian television last year (“Enough Rope,” ABC, October 25, 2004), Aron made no mention of the fact that he chose to hang off the subject boulder although he knew it was unstable; the rock had already moved when he stepped on it! Two years ago, Mutrie reported (“For Whom the Bells Toll,” Aspen Times, March 13, 2003) that Aron’s decision to lead his two climbing buddies down the east bowl of Resolution Peak almost cost them their lives. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had issued a severe avalanche warning for the day Aron’s group ascended and then skied off Resolution Peak. They triggered a Grade 5 avalanche which completely submerged Mark Beverly for about 10 minutes. This was only two months before Aron lost his arm.Ralston told Mutrie in March 2003 that he always leaves a detailed itinerary with friends or family, but one month later Aron chose not to tell anyone he was about to explore Blue John Canyon. He lived to tell a remarkable survival story of resilience and resourcefulness, and make a lot of money in the process.But Aron is no hero, no role model for outdoor adventurers. Even when “going solo,” the recklessness of adventurers like Ralston can threaten the safety of those who end up trying to effect a rescue. In his book, Ralston recounts several trips before April 2003 where at some stage he was forced to call for help. He writes about these events with a lot of braggadocio and a lack of humility. Aron’s disastrous canyoneering experience seems to have energized him, but there is little evidence from his book of effective introspection.Ralston told Australian viewers that his book “… is my legacy for the world.” A cautionary tale no doubt, but a legacy? Mark HunterDarwin, Australia
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