Gut Rumbles

May 06, 2003

Been thinking

I've been thinking a lot about this guy. He cold-bloodedly broke the bone in his arm, then cut the arm off with a pocketknife. After that, he rapelled down the mountain and walked to rescue, losing very little blood in the process.

I've done a lot of hiking and camping, but I don't know if I could have done that. I would require about a fifth of liquor first, and after that, I probably would drop my pocketknife off the side of the mountain and be forced to gnaw my arm off with my teeth. I might start, but I would pass out before I was finished gnawing all the way through and be found weeks later, dead as a doornail, still trapped, with my own flesh from my halfway-chewed arm in my teeth.

Better him than me.

I've read people who called him an idiot for climbing alone. I'll admit that it's always better to go with a partner. But those people who criticize him have never hiked or climbed alone. I LIKED hiking all by myself when I did it. Yeah, I knew I was alone, but I wanted it that way. I figured that I could take care of myself.

I always did. Maybe I was just lucky. Maybe this guy was UNLUCKY. The wilderness can be unforgiving if you ever fuck up out there. That's the chance you take when you go.

But this guy knew what to do and he DID IT, no matter how extreme it might seem. I hope that I never find myself in the same situation.

Hell, I won't. I'm too old for that shit anymore.


It's LARGE out here in north central Arizona.
Tomorrow I'm scouting a rock-crawling route for a 4wd club trip.
With my Jeep and another Jeep. That's just smart.
But, I did this route alone in the winter with my pickup after arriving here six years ago. I scared the shit out of myself, wasn't sure I could go forward or back in a bunch of places, and was 20 miles from the nearest ranch. But, it was a great trip. Think "AZ pin-striping" from scrub-oak on barely passable ATV trail.
So, I know why the guy was alone.
My best Jeep trips and hikes are just me & the dog. Yes, it's stupid. So's life.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on May 6, 2003 10:07 PM

Two words: Mountain Man.

(OK, OK, some more words....)

If you're going to go wandering around in the wilderness by yourself, it's best if you're one tough SOB.

Posted by: Kevin Baker on May 6, 2003 10:19 PM

We had one of these in Alaska about 20 years ago. Reached down to pick up something, got hand in snowmachine track. Tried to cut track with hatchet, but found it impossible due to steel reinforcing. Then used very dull hatchet to cut off arm. At least it was cold. Glad it wasn't me.

Posted by: Jack Boone on May 6, 2003 11:48 PM

The guy just plays too close to the edge, and it caught him. They've had a number of articles on him in the local papers here (Denver, CO).

Prior to this, he'd been caught in two (count 'em, two) avalanches.

This year.

I'll admit he's got bigger rocks than me, though. But he's not the only one; a year or two ago, some guy fishing up in the mountains got his leg trapped under a rock, cut it off, and crawled back off to get help.

Posted by: wheels on May 7, 2003 12:40 AM

I remember when I was 17, 18, and 19 I used to disappear into the Frank Church Wilderness area in central Idaho for up to a week at a time. It's the largest, most remote wilderness area in the lower 48 and my step mom used to go nuts everytime I did it but she was from New York, what did she know? The only thing my dad ever told me once was to take a rifle. Out there you are nothing special, just a potential link in the food chain.

Now, twenty-sum years later, I don't know if I'd do it again by myself.

Posted by: Lobowalk on May 7, 2003 02:50 AM

That guy has WAY bigger balls than any I could ever grow! LOL

Posted by: Zander on May 7, 2003 07:51 AM

I doubt I could cut off an arm, but going out alone isn't stupid. It didn't sound like he had someone to check and make sure he got back on time which was careless in my opinion but some of the best hiking I've done has been by myself as well.

There's something about being alone with nature. The air becomes fresher and the environment envelopes you. There's something just right about it.

Posted by: tim on May 7, 2003 09:09 AM

I'll tell you honestly: if I'd been in this kid's situation, I would probably have died. I can barely imagine doing that.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on May 7, 2003 01:34 PM

I often prefer to hike and camp alone, but then again I'm not into anything REALLY dangerous like rock climbing, telemark skiing, etc. I know and observe all the basic safety rules for backpacking (except the rule that says "don't go out alone").

Posted by: dragonfly jenny on May 7, 2003 04:37 PM
Post a comment