Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials
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Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 10:11:15 MDT Print View

Seems like I revisit the 10 essentials every half decade or so, and some of Dale's posts got me thinking about them again for the first time in a long while. Most of the stuff in the list I take anyway, even on day hikes, so I have thought them into the ground.

An exception is the issue of knife/sharp thing. So I was reading some posts here and elsewhere on the latest in SUL sharp things, including the everlasting personality-type test that is the knife vs. scissors debate. Full disclosure, I'm currently in the latter camp but am a moderate and could be convinced to switch parties.

One of the "new" developments I noticed that both amused and caused me some alarm is the apparent appearance of the following argument for carrying a bigger knife - you need, at a bare minimum, a knife big enough to hack off your wrist/arm if it gets caught under a rock. While I have seen many posts like this that were jokes, there have been more than a few that seemed very serious.

Now I don't remember this emergency situation being part of the original rationalization for the ten essentials. I am supposing this is due to Aron Ralston's experience in Utah in 2003. Weirdly enough, I was floating (on the Green river) by the mouth of the Canyon he was stuck in exactly the time he was stuck, as I later determined when I finally got back to Moab and first heard the buzz.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone else has noticed this topic coming up. I know it is ridiculous, but it shows how certain very public events effect people's psyches. Also I guess a lot of people (not me) really dig disaster porn - at REI the disaster porn section (I believe they euphemistically call it something like "adventure") is sometimes as big as the local guidebook section.

Also, has anyone else, anywhere, ever, had to hack off a limb to escape death while hiking, and should I be worried about this possibility?

Edited by millonas on 06/16/2013 10:17:53 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 10:22:38 MDT Print View

Pretty rare to cut a limb off because it's stuck under a boulder. I don't think you should plan for this possibility. Maybe if you go solo be a little more careful and avoid sticking your arm under a boulder.

I rationalize that I read "disaster porn" for the lessons learned so I avoid making that mistake in the future.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 10:29:23 MDT Print View

Aron proved you don't need a large fixed blade to remove an arm. Wasn't sharp either.

What about a leg?

There has always been the razor blade crowd here and the big fixie crowd as well. Mora anyone?

Trekking pole/pry bar?

What ifs...

Everyone has a hobby. Disaster porn? Am I missing out?


Too chaffy?

Edited by kthompson on 06/16/2013 10:30:33 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 10:32:43 MDT Print View

"I rationalize that I read "disaster porn" for the lessons learned so I avoid making that mistake in the future."

I don't know Jerry, sounds like an addict's rationalization to me. ;-)


"Aron proved you don't need a large fixed blade to remove an arm. Wasn't sharp either.
"

This is true, but I try not to think about it too much. Makes me wince even in the abstract. The real question for me as a scissor person is if I could do this with my scissors. On the other hand (no pun intended) I think the technical possibility might be irrelevant for me - not sure I could do it.

I think he said the hard part was (if you will excuse the explicitness here) snapping the bone, and at that point all the rest was "easy". I'm not sure there us an UL tool to help with that!

Anyway, there are probably a lot more probable reasons for taking a real knife. I'm not really worried about the boulder on my hand scenario. Its hard (thought possibly a good thing) to think about the topic when all I have ever done with my sharp thing is cut moleskin and cord. Of the ones I have heard, I think the necessity of cleaning out a wound is one that is really the one to account for. That I can see happening very easily, and getting sepsis in the back country on a long trip would be no fun at all.

Edited by millonas on 06/16/2013 10:49:26 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 10:41:03 MDT Print View

Yes. It happens.

Last year, I was going hiking in the Columbia Gorge and my head got caught in a trash can at the TH. I had to cut it off with a Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade Knife. Luckily, I was still able to drive straight to the hospital with my head on the dashboard, where it was reattached. Now I have upgraded to the Bear Grylls Parang II Machete.












**This might not have happened.
I'm just joking and not making fun of anyone or making light of the need to carry a knife of some kind. Sometimes I take a Victorinox classic. Sometimes I take a small fixed blade knife. Often I take a Opinel #7. I do carry the ten essentials of hikes.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Aron Ralston on 06/16/2013 10:43:29 MDT Print View

I don't like to think about that stuff at all.

Seen enough stuff that should be on the inside, outside.

Had Aron followed proper solo hiking protocol the outcome could have been very different. That's the lesson I take away from his mishap. Darwin award by default.

Rob E
(eatSleepFish)

Locale: Canada
Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 11:19:47 MDT Print View

Aron's incident just goes to prove that leaving an itinerary with someone is item #0 on the "10 essentials" list.

Having read his book, he had one close call in the backcountry after another, and seemed to have a reckless bravado about each incident, sort of an, "I didn't die, so I must have done everything right" kind of attitude.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 11:55:03 MDT Print View

"Having read his book, he had one close call in the backcountry after another, and seemed to have a reckless bravado about each incident, sort of an, "I didn't die, so I must have done everything right" kind of attitude."

That's interesting

I occasionally have calls that are a little close and then try to remember them vividly so I don't repeat

Like looking through camera and walking around to get better view, and almost walking over cliff. I remember specific case and now either look through camera or lower camera, walk, and then look through camera again.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 12:02:02 MDT Print View

I don't take all 10. But that is me. It is a recurring theme because modern society is so risk adverse. A razor blade works fine for me. On longer trips I take a Classic SAK, so I can trim finger and toe nails.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 15:58:11 MDT Print View

Consider that our species evolved and survived without 8 of the classic ten essentials and was lucky if they had the other two (spare food and spare water) some of the time. Given that, I skip several of them often even on longer trips and am often in the woods for a day hike or a few hour trail run with none of them.

1. Map
2. Compass
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
4. Extra food
5. Extra water
6. Extra clothes
7. Headlamp / flashlight
8. First aid kit
9. Fire starter
10. Knife

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 16:39:01 MDT Print View

Pete, also remember that our brains and bodies haven't been conditioned by the same experiences and cultural communication of the pre-industrial humans. Cognitive neuroscience, for example, has conclusively demonstrated that few humans possess the same ability to mentally map and remember large landscapes. This isn't because we can't, but it is because we haven't. Most adults can't regain that ability in full because the brain has arborized (i.e., trimmed away) those neural pathways.

Same goes for much of the physical abilities. Some can be recovered, others less so.

I'm not arguing for all 10 essentials, but the "We Evolved That Way" argument has some serious limits.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Ten Essentials on 06/16/2013 17:51:19 MDT Print View

Any of our evolutionary anscestors would have loved any of the ten essentials and would have gained power and prestige with them immediately--- if the shaman didn't get too jealous :D

+1 on Ralston's biggest mistake being that he didn't leave an itinerary.

He might have done better with a single edge razor blade. Other than snapping the bone, he said that severing the nerve was very painful.

At any rate, I don't see much use for anything bigger than a 3.5"-4" knife--- and I want the scissors too :)

I plan for more mundane events when picking essentials: simply getting lost, falls, a demobilitating injuries like a twisted ankle, or whatever keeps me out longer than planned. Being able to stay warm, dry and hydrated and able to signal for help are the goals to insure my survival until my return deadline passes and someone comes looking for me.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Essentials on 06/17/2013 04:35:35 MDT Print View

Regarding these essentials... They may be desirable, but how essential can something be that was invented only a little over 100 years ago.

es·sen·tial
/iˈsenSHəl/
Adjective
Absolutely necessary; extremely important.
Noun
Something absolutely necessary.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Ralston on 06/17/2013 05:36:24 MDT Print View

Like Steven Paris I too had a near-death experience although my head remained attached to by body.

On my last trip I considered using a Corona folding saw to cut a C-section to remove a stubborn turtlehead after a long bout of constipation.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Essential on 06/17/2013 08:17:47 MDT Print View

Yeah, every time my 12-year old sees that Bear Grylls Parang II hanging on the wall next to the Mountain House at Walmart, he reminds me how "essential" it is. "We totally need this, Dad!"

Yes son, but not until school starts again.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Essentials on 06/17/2013 09:40:50 MDT Print View

It's the youthful allure to the Blade---hatchets, machetes, rambo knife, Gerber SF blades; even seen guys carrying double headed axes.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Ralston on 06/17/2013 10:26:31 MDT Print View

"On my last trip I considered using a Corona folding saw to cut a C-section to remove a stubborn turtlehead after a long bout of constipation."

It think that scenario is actually far more likely than the hand-trapped-under-a-boulder one! Thanks for clarifying the situation for me.

"Yes son, but not until school starts again."

This totally cracked me up! So true.

Edited by millonas on 06/17/2013 10:31:16 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Essentials on 06/17/2013 10:27:33 MDT Print View

"It's the youthful allure to the Blade---hatchets, machetes, rambo knife, Gerber SF blades; even seen guys carrying double headed axes."

There is a lot of truth to this. I still have my 12" Kabar that I bought in my Yute. Also had two sweet Gerbers as well. I carried my Kabar on my first Sierra trip. I have come a long way in lightening up my load since then. I suspect that Kabar weighs more than my current shelter and cook set combined.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Aron on 06/17/2013 10:54:48 MDT Print View

"It think that scenario is actually far more likely than the hand-trapped-under-a-boulder one! Thanks for clarifying the situation for me."

Mark---From experience comes clarification. Glad to help.

Edited by TipiWalter on 06/17/2013 10:55:33 MDT.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Aron Ralston on 06/17/2013 20:07:25 MDT Print View

"Had Aron followed proper solo hiking protocol the outcome could have been very different. That's the lesson I take away from his mishap"

You nailed it right there.

Here's a pic I snapped last year on a trip to CO. Sort of relevant. He's still going solo. That entry was from Christmas 2011.


AR

HElinTexas C
(Helintexas) - MLife
Lesson from Aron on 06/20/2013 06:57:23 MDT Print View

I have heard the same thing from several others......... But I think about him and his arm everytime I get ready to start a backpack....then I call my emergency contact person and give them all of my info. I have become much more thoughtful in regards to this subject.

If I ever think, 'oh, it will be just a quick hike and I will be done...I don't have to worry about telling anyone'...visions of that horrifying arm cut flashes ....and I make the call or leave the not.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Three and a half Essentials on 06/20/2013 13:11:44 MDT Print View

Where I am, it is a very odd trip when I have all 10 along.

1. Map - absolutely if I'm going someplace new, but there are places I know more accurately than the map.
2. Compass - likewise
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen - at high latitudes, I'd put DEET before PABA. And a good sunhat before sunglasses.
4. Extra food - it takes a LONG time to starve
5. Extra water - FAR more important than food, but sometimes it is just a way to collect and treat the readily available water.
6. Extra clothes - VERY important here and in many mountainous areas. A warm hat and a trash-compactor bag have big return per ounce.
7. Headlamp / flashlight - Yes! This probably saves my butt more than anything else when the hike goes longer than planned. With LED lights, there no reason not to. But, helpful hint: If you haven't changed batteries in your LED for a long time, you may be surprised just how bright it is again with new battery.
8. First aid kit - Meh. First Aid is in your head more than your fanny pack. Inhaler for an asthmatic kid? Of course. Splints and gauze pads? Not for me. Practice sessions with your pack contents for hemorrhage, broken bones, and exposure? Very good to do beforehand.
9. Fire starter - mini Bic and a square of wax paper.
10. Knife - SAK Classic for me but to each their own.

Priorities for me, in order:
Water - bring it or treat it, likely carry it for some distance.
Light - small LED light
Warmth: Trash bag, hat, fire starting. Likely some other layers.

On more remote trips (i.e. if I don't expect to see anyone else):
Panic button: Cell, PLB, EPIRB, or VHF depending on location and coverage.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Three and a half Essentials on 06/20/2013 13:14:57 MDT Print View

Pretty much how I approach things. Thanks for posting.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Three and a half Essentials on 06/20/2013 14:04:09 MDT Print View

Small variation on your theme - use space blanket instead of bag. A little more warmth because of less radiation loss.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Three and a half Essentials on 06/20/2013 15:43:40 MDT Print View

>"use space blanket instead of bag"

And the metallic coating helps prevent them from scanning your brain waves!

Bouncing IR (in during cold, away when in the desert) is a plus.

In the "community service" category, though, I have been known to use a trash bag as, well, a trash bag on my way out to tidy up the trail.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/20/2013 21:14:12 MDT Print View

My 2 essentials are my neck knife and firetseel. They stay on my body while I hike. If I ever loose my pack, I can still build a fire and comfortably survive a cold night.

Dean L
(AldoLeopold) - F

Locale: Great Lakes
Re: Re: Aron Ralston and the Ten Essentials on 06/20/2013 23:50:03 MDT Print View

Rob

Excerpts from the book

"I went on a month-long streak of climbing four-teeners in January, with close calls on all of them." Or after somewhat goading two others to ski down a dicey slope, an avalanche ensued nearly killing them all. He stated "I felt guilty about my own decisions: decisions based on ego, attitude, overconfidence, and ambition, which overrode the combined training and experience of our group." His two companions haven't spoken to him since.

What you said seems quite true. I think every risk he took just emboldened him. Maybe the loss of his arm (during a relatively safe trek) saved his life.

Dean