TOUCHING THE VOID Hardcover – Aug 27 1988
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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 the Paperback edition.
"A gripping narrative that should excite armchair adventurers everywhere." -- --Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"A truly astounding account of suffering and fortitude." -- The Times (London)
"Simpson touches a nerve of the mountaineering community and the hearts of others." -- --Los Angeles Times
"Told with lyrical quality and stunning immediacy, Touching the Void transcends its genre and becomes accessible to readers who have never had any desire to climb a glacier." -- New York Newsday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie and the DVD extras take the viewer on an emotional path where one at first dislikes the arrongant and impetuous Simpson, while his climbing pal Simon Yates seems more sympathetic. However, as the movie continues and especially if you watch the Return to Siula Grande DVD extra, it becomes hard not to empathize with Simpson's reaction to returning to the place where he had faced so much trauma and to, in contrast, find Yates cold and unfeeling, as if the experience they shared so many years before no longer affected him personally. The end of the movie leaves one with the impression that Simpson, although understanding at what Yates did, does not really like Yates and does certainly not consider him a friend.
The book, written several years earlier, certainly leaves a more positive impression of Yates.Read more ›
When Simon reached him, they both knew that the chances for getting Joe off the mountain were virtually non-existent. Yet, they fashioned a daring plan to to do just that. For the next few hours, they worked in tandem through a snow storm, and managed a risky, yet effective way of trying to lower Joe down the mountain.
About three thousand feet down, Joe, who was still roped to Simon, dropped off an edge and found himself now free hanging in space six feet away from an ice wall, unable to reach it with his axe. The edge was over hung about fifteen feet above him. The dark outline of a crevasse lay about a hundred feet directly below him.
Joe could not get up, and Simon could not 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. This is an absorbing read and one of the great stories in mountaineering literature.
Here's the deal before I delve into a true-life adventure masterpiece. Step 1: I make sure that the apartment is properly cozy (e.g. gas fireplace on, classical music playing on the stereo, beagles snuggling under a blanket next to me on the sofa) while bone-chilling fall and winter rains wash away all of Vancouver's accumulated summer grime. Step 2: I put frozen cinnamon apple crisp dessert in the oven so that the whole apartment eventually smells like some glorious Old World bakery. Step 3: I turn on my Kindle and transport myself, as if by magic, through time & space to the deepest jungles of Africa with Livingstone (in the 19th Century) or some desolate reef off the coast of Australia -- Batavia's Graveyard -- along with the other survivors who found themselves at the mercy of a 17th Century "Charles Manson" psychopath: Apothecary Geronimus Cornelius.
In "Touching the Void," you will likely rediscover the beauty of simple things like breathing (!) when you confront the void along with these intrepid mountaineers. Put on your imaginary crampons and brace yourself....
Even though this book has been making the rounds in the rock climbing/mountaineering scene for years now, everyone, regardless of their backgrounds should give this book a read. It is a testament to the human spirit, as well as a never give up attitude. At the end of the book, all you'll be able to say is 'wow'.
Most recent customer reviews
Cannot imagine why anyone climbs mountains! But this story is riveting and I could not put it down.Published 2 months ago by Shopaholic
Amazing survival story that I highly recommend to anyone interested in that genre. Only criticism I have is that it was pretty "technical" at times and if you're not a... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Bosk67
An unflinching and harrowing account of a climb gone wrong. It is a portrait of bravery and the will to survive that left me in awe of both Joe and Simon.Published 12 months ago by carol jones
This is a harrowing story about two people who seem to have overreached themselves on this climb and one of them paid a high price.Published 18 months ago by elaine gray
I read Touching the Void over the course of a few days and found it nearly impossible to put down. Extremely well-written and engrossing.Published 18 months ago by Paula Daley
I couldn't stop reading. Great book, well written. I would highly recommend this book. I also enjoyed the movie years ago.Published 23 months ago by 60chins