|Wednesday, March 24th, 2004
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.
Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival
Revised edition (January 2004)
Amazon.com book Description:
"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.
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."
I picked this book up after a friend recommended it. It's a short book (224 pages) and a quick read. This was the first book by the non-professional writer, Joe Simpson. It was also his own true life story.
The first 40 pages suffer from tedious, poor descriptions of climbing the mountain with only a few tiny anecdotes to keep the reader interested. No effort is made to inform non-climbers of the sport's vernacular.
The story picks up as Joe Simpson and his fellow climber have a near fatal accident which foreshadows the events to come and maintains the reader's interest to the last page.
Fellow adventure Simon Yates contributes his own perspective of the events, and after the first contribution by Yates, Joe Simpson's writing seems to markedly improve as if he was positively influenced Yate's accounts.
The book is a worthwhile read given the limited investment of time required, however it is probably best read in a tent in the wilderness.
I purchased the latest edition which features a lame, badly composited cover (pictured) which cross markets the new movie based on the book.
A better recommendation for a gripping mountaineering story is, "Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster" by Jon Krakauer.
See past WorldView and Friends and Family News in the Archive