Mountain News 

One-armed Ralston continues to amaze

Compiled by Allen Best

ASPEN, Colo. — Aron Ralston gained international attention last year when he severed his own arm after being stuck in a Utah canyon for five days.

Since then, he has changed his ways. He tells people where he is going, and he also carries a cell phone. He is now equipped with a prosthesis, to which he can attach an ice axe for his mountaineering adventures. Some say he hasn’t missed a beat.

For example, during March he scaled two of the 14,000-foot peaks near Telluride. It’s part of his six-year-old bid to solo climb all 59 – by Ralston’s count – of Colorado’s fourteeners during winter. (Most peak baggers consider 54 Colorado peaks to be fourteeners).

It hasn’t been easy, he admitted to The Aspen Times’s Tim Mutrie, who was writing about Ralston’s extraordinary hunger for adventure long before Ralston became a celebrity. "Other people had a lot more confidence than me, saying I’d be back soloing fourteeners in winter, no problem. But honestly, I had my doubts," Ralston told Mutrie.

For example, setting up a tent by himself requires more forethought. So does operating a stove. And he has to think beforehand about which coat pockets he puts things in while out on adventures. "Everything’s in my left-side pockets now," he explained. "It takes up so much brainpower when you’ve got to think everything through."

Ralston went through five surgeries and eight weeks of monitored rest and intravenous drug cocktails before returning to his of life of hiking and then skiing. But he says he didn’t get closure for six months, until he went to Bluejohn Canyon with television news anchor Tom Brokaw and friends. There, by himself in the slot where he had been stranded for five days, he spread the cremated ashes of his hand, then cried all the way back to Colorado.

This tragedy has turned Ralston from a somewhat obscure couch-surfing resident of Aspen into a relatively affluent mini-celebrity living in a $450,000 condo. He’s giving lectures here and there, is talking with a movie producer, and has just completed a book that is due for release in September, followed by foreign-language editions six months after that.

Between times, he recently took a road trip to see Pfish play in Las Vegas and in early summer is to do a mountaineering ski trip on Mt. Shasta, among other adventures.

Double-digit gains in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. — Last year it was doom-and-gloom and where-did-we-go-wrong in Aspen? This year it’s double-digit gains in retail sales, 13.5 per cent for the first three months compared to last year.

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