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Real Life Inspiration For 127 Hours Explains How He Amputated Own Arm

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Real Life Inspiration For 127 Hours Explains How He Amputated Own Arm

WARNING: Contains extremely distressing content

You may be familiar with the story of Aron Ralston, the real-life inspiration behind 2010 movie 127 Hours. Here he explains the horrifying process in which he amputated his own arm after getting trapped under a boulder - frightening and stomach-churning stuff. Watch the clip below:


It's a tale that spoke to the persistence of the human spirit, but Danny Boyle's biographical film 127 Hours remains a grisly watch.


The story of a man who was forced to cut off his own arm after it became trapped by a boulder while he was out mountaineering, it was based on the true events of outdoorsman Aron Ralston's solo descent of Bluejohn Canyon in southeastern Utah in April 2003.

Ultimately, it saw him forced to break his forearm in order to amputate it with a pocketknife.

The suspended boulder fell and first smashed his left hand, before crushing his right hand against the canyon wall. Ralston initially spent five days slowly working his way through his water and food supplies, eventually turning to his own urine to maintain hydration.

On the sixth day, though, and with a plan forming in his mind, Ralston made the decisive move. Once free and in incredible pain, Ralston made his way through the rest of the canyon, rappelled down a 65-foot drop, and then hiked seven miles to safety.

Aron Ralston with 127 Hours director Danny Boyle. Credit: PA
Aron Ralston with 127 Hours director Danny Boyle. Credit: PA

People the world over wondered just how he was able to do it, and some years after the incident Ralston returned to the scene with a TV crew, and ran through the horrific moments during which he was able to get himself free and save his own life.

Be warned once again, though: it's not for the weak of stomach.

He explained: "I said to myself, 'Here we go, Aron. You're in it now,' and I took my knife.


"At first I still had the larger blade out and I held it up against my arm and started pushing into it. I couldn't get the knife to sink in, so I switched over and pulled out the smaller blade. With the smaller blade I started the amputation because the smaller blade was still sharp."

Ralston cut through the top later of skin and saw an artery, at which point he realised he hadn't attached the tourniquet that he'd made from the insulated lining of his water bottle.

"I put the tourniquet on and I was bleeding down the wall and I severed the artery," he recalled.

Ralston cut through muscle and two more arteries, as well as the tougher tendon.


"I took the pliers side of the knife and used that to twist and rip until the tendon gave way," he said.

This continued for about an hour until he got to the nerve, which he knew would be the most painful part of the amputation.

He told the camera: "I was looking at the nerve, this little strand of spaghetti running through my arm and I had to take the knife.

"I felt the fire... like sticking my arm into a pot of liquid metal.


He had to cut into it again and this time the fire sensation redoubled and went all the way up to his shoulder. However, once he'd cut through it, that was it and he was free.

He was rescued four hours after amputating his arm.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Topics: injury, Interesting

Simon Catling

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