Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death.
The next three days were an impossibly grueling ordeal for both men. Yates, certain that Simpson was dead, returned to base camp consumed with grief and guilt over abandoning him. Miraculously, Simpson had survived the fall, but crippled, starving, and severely frostbitten was trapped in a deep crevasse. Summoning vast reserves of physical and spiritual strength, Simpson crawled over the cliffs and canyons of the Andes, reaching base camp hours before Yates had planned to leave.
How both men overcame the torments of those harrowing days is an epic tale of fear, suffering, and survival, and a poignant testament to unshakable courage and friendship.
Joe Simpson gained a reputation in British climbing circles in the late 80s as the unluckiest man still alive. I first came across him in a article in High magazine (I think) called The Last Bivouac", when, camped on a small ledge in the Alps, the rock face fell away below him, leaving him and his companion hanging all night from a very uncertain anchor point over a 4000ft drop. You don't have to be a climber to read Simpson, but it helps. When I first read this book, I thought it was not only the most gut-wrenchingly true story I'd ever read but also one of the most brutally honest accounts of what goes through a climber's mind in the most extreme of situations. I'd actually heard of the story before I ever read the book. It was a legend that even people who'd never heard of Joe Simpson knew. Simpson has gone on to write many excellent books based on his experiences after Siula Grande, Dark Shadows Falling and The Beckoning Silence being particularly good but Touching the Void, even with its slightly raw style, remains the best. And what a fantastic title...! Incidently, I'm also a climber,..from near Sheffield.. and my last name's Simpson but this hasn't biased my view of this book at all. It's the best work from the best cimbing writer in the world. Read it!
I just loved this man's story! I can't believe it actually happened! This man's absolutely amazing story of survival will live in my mind for a long, long time. His courage and bravery was amazing, beating the odds to survive after falling down a glacier. This is a must have for everyone out there! If you don't like books, see the movie, because you just have to hear this story.
Probably him most read book. This has now been made in to a movie - but don't cheat - read the book first. Simpson is obviously a survivor and this is a great journey through his mind, and that is Simon Yates his climbing partner.
Simpson has gone on to write some other great books - "This Game of Ghosts" a fantastic read about the "Why" of climbing. But Touching the Void was his first and we should start there.
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