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Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival Paperback – February 3, 2004
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Concise and yet packed with detail, Touching the Void, Joe Simpson's harrowing account of near-death in the Peruvian Andes, is a compact tour de force that wrestles with issues of bravery, friendship, physical endurance, the code of the mountains, and the will to live. Simpson dedicates the book to his climbing partner, Simon Yates, and to "those friends who have gone to the mountains and have not returned." What is it that compels certain individuals to willingly seek out the most inhospitable climate on earth? To risk their lives in an attempt to leave footprints where few or none have gone before? Simpson's vivid narrative of a dangerous climbing expedition will convince even the most die-hard couch potato that such pursuits fall within the realm of the sane. As the author struggles ever higher, readers learn of the mountain's awesome power, the beautiful--and sometimes deadly--sheets of blue glacial ice, and the accomplishment of a successful ascent. And then catastrophe: the second half of Touching the Void sees Simpson at his darkest moment. With a smashed, useless leg, he and his partner must struggle down a near-vertical face--and that's only the beginning of their troubles. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A brilliant, vivd, gripping, heart-stopping account of their terrifying adventure... Superbly written" Sunday Express "One of the absolute classics of mountaineering...a document of psychological, even philosophical witness of the rarest compulsion" --George Steiner, Sunday Times
The thrilling adventure of the century. A mountaineering classic with a happy ending. --firstname.lastname@example.org
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For the next few hours, through a snow storm, they work in tandem, and manage a risky, yet effective way of trying to lower Joe down the mountain. About three thousand feet down, Joe who is still roped to Simon, drops off an edge, and finds himself now free hanging in space six feet away from an ice wall, unable to reach it with his axe. The edge is over hung about fifteen feet above him. The dark outline of a crevasse lies about a hundred feet directly below him.
Joe couldn't get up, and Simon couldn't get down. In fact, Joe's weight began to pull Simon off the mountain. So, Simon was finally forced to do the only thing he could do under the circumstances. He cut the rope, believing that he was consigning his friend to certain death. Therein lies the tale.
What happens next is sure to make one believe in miracles.
Simpson and a climbing partner in an excess of youthful bravado planned a new route up a monster Andean peak in Peru. The area was remote and civilization was somewhere else. After an arduous ascent, Simpson fell and broke his leg while descending. The reader gradually realizes what a chilling horror has befallen the pair. They have no possibility of rescue; the mountain was almost unclimbable for two superb athletes with two good legs. How can they possibly get down when one of them is unable to walk?
Partner, Simon Yates, ropes Simpson to himself and tries to guide Simpson down who is forced to crawl, slide, and inch himself forward. Then Simpson goes over the edge of a cornice and is dangling with only the rope holding him over the void. Yates heroically digs in, but gradually he himself is being inexorably drawn to the chasm. He finally, with shuddering reluctance, cuts the rope, and Simpson falls many feet into a crevasse.
The rest of the book is Simpson's six-day excruciating journey down the mountain: his thoughts, hallucinations and agony. Simpson is a powerful writer without a trace of self-pity. He doesn't try to impress us with his stoicism - far from it, at times he is almost mad with fright. There is nothing lurid here; the book is exhausting, but thought provoking. You won't forget it easily, and you cannot help but wonder what it is like beyond the edge and into the maelstrom.