“Everyone of us is capable of something extraordinary in their lives,” said Aron Ralston, the famed outdoors enthusiast known best for cutting his forearm off in Blue John Canyon, Utah. Ralston was the keynote speaker at the Wilderness Medicine Conference held at Big Sky Resort on February 12-15.

Ralston interrupted his talk last Tuesday with clips from the movie 127 Hours, where actor James Franco portrays his journey through the excruciating pain of his sacrifice. The film, which is up for six Academy awards including Best Picture, has created a lot of hype in the past few months, and has left theater-goers squirming in their seats.

During his keynote, Ralston explained how he used a pocket knife to cut through his skin, tissues and nerves. The knife, he said, had been free with a flashlight his mom had bought him. Ralston described breaking the bones in his arm and pulling himself free from between the boulder that bound him there. He dragged himself a couple miles outside of the canyon until he ran into a family of hikers. A resuce helicopter took him to a Moab hospital, where it took him months to recover.

After his experience in Blue John, which was supposed to be a “walk in the park,” Ralston continued to make what he called “foolish mistakes,” like summiting Denali solo in 2008. Since that last trip, he has learned how to be there for the people who matter the most, and from his loss, he has gained a sense of values.

Ralston finished by saying: “Go big, but remember the ones you love while you’re out there.” He added there is a “fine line between what’s bold and what’s foolish.”