127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Ralston is describing one of the most important events in the autobiography: the falling stone, which leads to the amputation of his arm.


Ralston tells his survival story of when he was trapped for 6 days in one of the most remote parts of America. The hike begun as normal; however, soon into the walk, a falling stone trapped his wrist against the wall. It is the story of his survival. The story was made into a film in 2010. It was filmed and produced by Danny Boyle.

author’s purpose

Ralston is writing an autobiography, first published in 2004.. This is a reflection, written in first person (‘I’), of his time as a climber and adventurer.



Ralston uses extensive description within his autobiography:

‘Stemming across the canyon at the lip of the drop-off, with one foot and one hand on

each of the walls, I traverse out to the chockstone. I press my back against the south wall and lock my left knee, which pushes my foot tight against the north wall. With my right foot, I kick at the boulder to test how stuck it is. It’s jammed tightly enough to hold my weight. I lower myself from the chimneying position and step onto the chockstone. It supports me but teeters slightly. After confirming that I don’t want to chimney down from the chockstone’s height, I squat and grip the rear of the lodged boulder, turning to face back upcanyon. Sliding my belly over the front edge, I can lower myself and hang from my fully extended arms, akin to climbing down from the roof of a house.’

It is worth noting how long some of the sentences become. He is remembering every moment extensively and fully. He wants us to remember it with him. His use of verbs in particular are interesting: ‘confirming’, ‘traverse’ and ‘jammed’. There’s certainty - no doubt in his mind - as to what is occurring in the incident.


Jargon is technical language that only somebody within the field would understand. It needs explaining to anybody outside of that community.

As a professional climber, he is able to use this technical language with ease and incorporate it into his autobiography seamlessly:

Overhang: a part of something (in this case, the rock) that extends over something else.

traverse: cross

teeters: balancing unsteadily

Torque: rotating force



The writer chooses to write in the present tense: ‘As I dangle, I feel the stone respond to my adjusting grip with a scraping quake as my body’s weight applies enough torque to disturb it from its position.’ This makes it seem as though the event is unfolding at this time and it creates a sense of tension; we know the writer survived because it is an autobiography.


Within your examination, you will be asked a series of questions about the article.

Some of the questions will be short questions. For these questions, you must look at the number of marks in brackets. It is important to answer in full sentences.

Other questions will be long questions. For these questions, you must look at using analysis. You will also be asked to compare. Think carefully about the key comparisons and plan your answer first.

Assessment features are __coming soon: ____check back here in the next few days for the opportunity to ____unlock assessment ____and access ____teacher-written questions ____with ____model answers.

How high is the drop-off? (1 mark)
11 or 12 feet high
Explanation: The drop off is 11 or 12 feet high.
What is ‘just below the ledge’?
chockstone the size of a large bus tire
Explanation: 'Just below the ledge’ is a ‘chockstone the size of a large bus tire’