On 26 April, 2003, Aron Ralston was hiking alone through Blue John Canyon in eastern Wayne County, Utah, when a boulder dislodged and trapped his right forearm as he was descending a narrow slot.
Having not told anyone his whereabouts, Aron assumed he’d die. He spent the next five days slowly drinking water, eventually resorting to drinking his own urine when his water supply ran out. He made several attempts to breaking the boulder but didn’t succeed. Early on, he realized he’d have to amputate his arm. And after experimenting with tourniquets and shallow cuts to his arm, he knew, on the fourth day, that he’d have to cut through bone, though he didn’t have the tools to do it. By the fifth day, Aron carved out his name, date of birth and presumed death on the canyon wall and videotaped his goodbyes to his family. On the following day, his arm began to decompose due to lack of circulation.
Ralston had an epiphany. He could feel his bone bend and realized he could use the boulder to break it. He managed to do so, and proceeded in the duration of one hour to amputate his arm with his multitool.
Delirious and dehydrated, Aron climbed out of the canyon slot, rappelling down a 60ft sheer walk, and marched out of the canyon. A family of three who were on vacation found him. They gave him food and brought him to the emergency room.
Later, Aron speculated that if he’d amputated his arm earlier, he’d have bled out. His amputated arm was found and returned to him. It was cremated and scattered in the accident scene.
Aron Ralston’s grueling tale is told in the movie 127 Hours, starring James Franco.