Survival lessons from 127 Hours, the movie and real life story

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127 hours127 Hours is a movie about real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston who slides into a canyon crevasse while climbing in Utah.  His arm is pinned under an bolder and he has very little food and water.  After being trapped for 127 hours, he literally cuts himself loose from danger but amputating his arm and lives to tell about it.

During his 127 hours stuck in the crevasse, Ralston must resort to his basest survival instincts. So what are the lessons learned from this true story?

1.  First and foremost:  Use your head!  To quote Joel at Survival Cache: “Your number one survival tool is the grey matter that keeps your ears apart.”

In the movie, Aron took off on his climb in a remote location without letting anyone know where he was headed.  That was not using his head!  He also took very little water and food with him with no plan for contingencies.  On the other hand, he figured out that the only way out was to disengage from the bolder so with much bravery, he broke the bones then cut off his arm.  Ouch.

2.  Be prepared with proper gear.  You tools and gear should be suitable for the situation and in good working order.  That means that if you suspect a power outage, have waterproof matches, a sharp axe (to cut wood), high beam flashlights, and lots of fresh batteries on hand.  Dull knives, firearms with no ammo, and out of date batteries will not do you a bit of good in an emergency.

3.  Knowledge is power.  Educate yourself and keep learning.  Study the local topography – you just might need to make a quick getaway and knowledge of the local geographical terrain will be crucial.  Learn first aid and get to know your neighbors.  The more you know, the less you will panic.

4.  Prepare for the unexpected with plenty of food and water.  This applies to a one day hike, a two week camping trip, or an emergency stash that will provide sustenance on for six months or longer if the SHTF.

5.  Stay fit of body.  Stamina and physical endurance require a healthy body.  Eat nutritious foods and try to eat real, not processed products.  Get some daily exercise and strive for a reasonable weight – not overweight but also not too thin.

6.  Exercise the brain – you are going to need it when an emergency sets in.  Again, from Survival Cache:

“Like any survival kit, it must be developed and maintained in good working order. Since it is a body part, that means proper exercise, nourishment and protection. Without this tool in proper working order, everything else is just clutter and your survival is a matter of pure, dumb luck. Not what I’d recommend for a ‘Plan A.”

The movie 127 Hours is a must see if you are interested in observing how the stresses of an emergency can affect the psyche, the body and the spirit.  In Aron’s case, his survival mindset prevailed and at the end of the day, he was very very lucky to survive.

Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!


Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day:  During an extended power outage, use the cell phone charger that fits in the cigarette lighter holder of your car to charge your phone.  For most phones, you can purchase a charger for less that $12 at Amazon or on Ebay.

I learned this the hard way when the power went out and my cell phone battery was on fumes.  Remember, no power also means no DSL and no cable so no internet.  Cell phones become the communication vehicle of choice as well as necessity.

From the Bargain Bin:  In addition to the movie, the story of Aron Ralston is available as an autobiography, 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  For $6, the price is right.  You might also find the book – or the movie – at your local library for free.

And as always, be prepared with emergency supplies from Emergency Essentials.  If you have the bucks and the space, I highly recommend a water barrel (or two!)


Survival lessons from 127 Hours, the movie and real life story — 3 Comments

  1. I have been climbing in the canyon that Aaron was trapped in many times. The funny thing is he was in a fairly simple slot canyon, there are many that are much more difficult than this one. It just goes to show you even a spot that you have been a million times can cause you problems if you are not careful or prepared. ALWAYS let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back.

  2. I’ve been going out in the mountains on my own a long time, but I follow the precepts of Cody Lundin. I make sure my wife knows my route, and I don’t deviate from it. I carry map and compass, as well as a hand held GPS. I take essential equipment along in a back pack, and I carry a cell phone and a sports radio. I realize when your number is up, it’s up, but prior planning prevents poor performance, as we used to say in the Marines.

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