Trapped climber amputates own arm

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A US rock climber used a penknife to his own arm and escape to safety after a boulder pinned him down for five days in a part of the western state of Utah.

Aron Ralston, 27, and described as an experienced outdoorsman, was by climbers on Thursday and airlifted to .

Officials said that his condition was serious but that he would fully .

He had been hiking in Blue John Canyon near the Canyonlands National Park in Utah when his right arm was by a boulder which came loose as he attempted to use it as a handhold.

On Tuesday his water ran out, and on Thursday he made the to sever his arm just below his elbow, applying a tourniquet and administering basic aid before abseiling off a 70-foot (21m) ledge and beginning the back to his vehicle.

He was taken to hospital by a rescue helicopter - friends had the emergency services when he to turn up for work.

At hospital, a calm Mr Ralston to stunned staff what had happened, adding that he had lost a lot of .

Calling Mr Ralston a "rare hero", Sergeant Mitch Vetere, of Emery County Sheriff's Office, said he was by the climber's good condition considering the circumstances.

He also said that Mr Ralston had made the right decision to himself, as the county's rescue teams might never have him.

"Our rescue team said that they never would have seen him from under that boulder," he told the BBC.

"The only way we would have seen him is if we had stumbled into him."

Mr Ralston's mother said that her son, an experienced climber, because he was in peak physical and mental .

"He was able to rationally consider alternatives relative to his situation," she told the Associated Press news agency.

"His spirits are and he anxiously looks to returning to his love of the outdoors."

copyright (c) BBC, 2003

CLICK HERE to read an extract from Aron Ralston's book about the incident!