Aron Ralston to speak Friday at CDLT party |

Aron Ralston to speak Friday at CDLT party

Special to the Daily

SILVERTHORNE – Aspen resident Aron Ralston didn’t think he was a good creative thinker before he stepped into Blue John Canyon on that fateful day in April of 2003. The former mechanical engineer knew he was a good analytical thinker, but didn’t count too highly of his ability to improvise solutions to problems. However, he now credits his survival to that capability.”That was what got me through,” Ralston said. “I was able to improvise with what I had.”And that is the message Ralston wants to convey about his ordeal to the readers of his book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” He said he walked into the canyon as a product of his own life experiences.”I want people to see that for themselves in their own life,” Ralston said. “Whatever you’re faced with you already have the tools to transform that adversity into something that’s positive. That’s what I proved to myself.”Ralston will be speaking at the Continental Divide Land Trust’s fourth annual Open Space Party Friday at the Silverthorne Pavilion where he will tell his story and sign copies of his book. Almost three years ago on a canyoneering trip in the Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Ralston encountered a challenge that he says he never could have experienced if there weren’t open spaces to be in.

During a maneuver that would land him farther down the canyon, Ralston triggered the release of an 800-pound boulder and found his right arm trapped, and actually supporting the boulder against the canyon wall.As an experienced backcountry traveler, Ralston continuously considered the factors against him while trapped – most significantly his limited supply of water. He also considered his options. After six days he made his escape by breaking his arm and severing his arm with the knife he carried.Along with his incredible story of survival, Ralston’s presentation at the open space event will also focus on a project that he began before the accident and finished after – climbing all 59 Fourteeners in Colorado, solo and in winter. “This (mountaineering project) will serve as a major part of my relationship with the outdoors of Colorado,” he said of the seven-year endeavor he finished this past March.He said the same thing that drew him to the canyons of Utah made the wintertime Fourteener project attractive – a place with fewer people.He said of the value of open space, “It starts for me with being able to have some kind of a polar opposite to society.” He said, “Some people can’t imagine driving half a day without seeing a fence or not getting cell phone coverage for hundreds of miles.”Wilderness has been my personal proving ground. Wilderness can be a crucible,” he says with a knowing laugh, “or a sanctuary.”

Ralston’s outdoor adventures continue with a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon scheduled for this April. Photographer John Fielder, environmental writer Rod Nash and Continental Divide Land Trust executive director Leigh Girvin will also be in the boat for the 17-day trip.Ralston’s also got his sights set on climbing the 8,000-meter peaks in Pakistan. The ex-engineer said that with his specially designed prosthetics – the one he uses for climbing is pictured on the cover of his book – he has done more lead climbing than before the accident.Ralston is continuing to write as well. He’s working on a story about his Fourteeners project that will be in the April issue of Outside magazine.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13622, or Divide Land Trust Fourth annual Friends of Open Space Party

What: Aron Ralston will be the guest speaker at this celebration of the community’s preservation efforts. The four government open space programs as well as other local nonprofits that work in the natural resources field will have booths and representatives for attendees to learn more about the various organizations and sign up for volunteer opportunities. There will also be a silent auction and dinner by Gilchrist Catering.When: Friday, doors open at 5:30 p.m.; Ralston’s talk will begin around 8 p.m.Where: Silverthorne PavilionTickets: In advance, $18 for adults and $8 for children or $20 at the door for adults and $10 for kids. Available at Wilderness Sports in Frisco and Dillon and at Great Adventure Sports and Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge.For more information: Call the CDLT at (970) 453-3875

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