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TOUCHING THE VOID [Hardcover]

Joe Simpson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition CDN $8.86  
Hardcover CDN $19.36  
Hardcover, Aug. 27 1988 --  
Paperback CDN $11.51  
Audio, Cassette --  

Book Description

Aug. 27 1988
This book is an illustrated account of the ascent of the west face of the 21,000ft peak, Siula Grande, in the Peruvian Andes. The author and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, achieved the summit in June 1985 before disaster struck. A few days later, Yates staggered into base camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non-climbing companion that Joe was dead. For three days Simon Yates, believing that he had caused his friend's death, suffered torment and guilt. However, a cry in the night led them to Joe, badly injured and delirious, crawling through the snow. Far from causing his friend's death, Simon had paradoxically saved his life when he cut the rope. What happened and how they dealt with the resulting psychological trauma is the subject of this book.

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From Amazon

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.

Review

"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 "On every level it is an outstanding literary achievement" Independent "A quite extraordinary and moving book...Touching the Void touches the Great Questions in an understated yet utterly compelling way" Guardian "A truly astonishing account of suffering and fortitude...the narrative acquires an irresistible force, carrying all before it" Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading as well as watching Dec 21 2004
Format:Paperback
A few weeks back, in search of something good to watch at the video store, I picked up Kevin Macdonald's Touching the Void documentary from the shelf. As I was skeptically reading the back of the DVD case, the fellow standing next to me said that it was a "really good movie." I took him on his word and later disovered a movie that I have since been raving about to all who will listen. It is a riveting story in which an injured climber is left for dead on a Peruvian mountain and manages to crawl his way off. It sounds like fiction, but, as is often the case, this true story is incredible beyond what a writer could believable construct. So, when I found out that Joe Simpson (the climber left on the mountain) had written a book, Touching the Void about his harrowing adventure, I knew I needed to read it.
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXTREME ADVENTURE IN THE PERUVIAN ANDES... June 8 2002
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book recounts an amazing tale of courage, fortitude, and the will to live, despite dire circumstances. The author, Joe Simpson, and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, attempted to ascend a perilous section of the Peruvian Andes. Near the summit, tragedy struck when Joe, up over 19,000 feet, fell and hit a slope at the base of a cliff, breaking his right leg, rupturing his right knee, and shattering his right heel. Beneath him was a seemingly endless fall to the bottom.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping; couldn't put it down April 8 2005
By NorthVan Dave TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This was one novel that I could not put down. In a nut shell, this true life story is about Joe Simpson and the troubles he endured while mountaineering in Peruvian Andes. What makes the story so gripping is that this was no up the mountain; down the mountain story. Instead Joe takes us on a wild ride into his psyche as he encounters a few problems along the way, and how he manages to deal with them in a calm, cool, collected manner.
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'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars engrossing March 7 2014
By 60chins
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I couldn't stop reading. Great book, well written. I would highly recommend this book. I also enjoyed the movie years ago.
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5.0 out of 5 stars interesting Feb. 6 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A story of a mans survival while climbing a mountain. It made me wonder why anyone would take up this type of endeavour. I gave the book to a man who had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, thinking he would enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Touching the Void Jan. 3 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some of us occasionally want to "see what we're made of". Other times that opportunity is imposed on us by unforeseen circumstances. Simpson's account of his alpine odyssey is among the most amazing stories I have ever read! It detailed account of his outward efforts at survival tell us a lot about his inner strength that made all that possible.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of adventure and misadventure Dec 26 2013
By Anne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book tells the story of surviving a climbing expedition accident.  It is probably like chocolate to a climber as they imagine themselves on the same mountain. For a non climber it offers some glimpses into the thoughts, decisions and techniques used. If Joe was ever able to augment the book I would have appreciated a section with more maps and explanations of terms, snow conditions and techniques. Diagrams would be really informative.
The second part of the book where both men come to terms and rationalize truly horrifying decisions is surprisingly tender. 
The book made me wonder more about climbers in general. What makes them want to pit their lives against not only harsh conditions but also twists of fate from which there is no protections.
I liked the book even if I couldn't always visualize the situation. And I have a craving now to sleep in a snow cave.
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