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Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival [Paperback]

Joe Simpson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 22 2004
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.

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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 an alternate Paperback edition.


"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
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
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
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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4.0 out of 5 stars the diction brings the Peruvian Andes to you Oct. 29 2001
"Touching the Void" is a non-fiction suspense account by Joe Simpson. It all begins when Joe and his best friend, Simon, decide they want to climb the unforgiving Siula Grande mountain in the Peruvian Andes. To get warmed up, they do a smaller climb that takes them two days and two nights. After carefully watching the weather patterns, they choose a departure date. The first two days of the journey are beautiful sunny days without despair. As the third day rolls around and they push for the summit, they come upon bad weather. Maybe this proves to be a bad omen. The two climbers successfully reach the summit, but on the way down run into a terrible blizzard. As the two men slowly wander off course, Joe takes a horrifying fall and badly injures his knee. The incredible part of the story is how they overcome the physical challenge and keep on descending. When Joe and Simon believe they have almost made it to the valley floor, everything goes wrong. Joe is left for dead as Simon has to make an unforgettable decision. Fortunately, Joe has an unusually strong will to live. Never giving up and staying calm and in control will always prevail; in "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson, Joe survives a horrendous fall and hangs on until the bitter end.
Joe Simpson wrote this book to share with all readers his true account of a terrifying adventure and a miraculous ending. The strongest device used to bring the Peruvian Andes right to the living room of the reader is the diction. Simpson's word choice is what makes the book worth while reading. "As the hammer came out there was a sharp cracking sound and my right hand, gripping the axe, pulled down. The sudden jerk turned me outwards and instantly I was falling . . . the rushing speed of it confused me. . .
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lessons learned
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 2 months ago by elaine gray
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put it down
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 2 months ago by Paula Daley
5.0 out of 5 stars engrossing
I couldn't stop reading. Great book, well written. I would highly recommend this book. I also enjoyed the movie years ago.
Published 7 months ago by 60chins
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting
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. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mary Jane Amirault
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching the Void
Some of us occasionally want to "see what we're made of". Other times that opportunity is imposed on us by unforeseen circumstances. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Roland Laing
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of adventure and misadventure
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. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I liked this book so much I went out and rented the movie. It's a fast-paced, keep you on the edge of your seat novel. I can't believe they both survived. Read more
Published 11 months ago by author4
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I liked it alot. Survival books are da s***. But in all seriousness it pretty good. Has that "can put book down" factor
Published 12 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars So you think you had a bad day...
Being too chicken to put my own life at risk, I love reading stories about those who do -- call it vicarious thrill seeking. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Marc Baragar
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching the Void
I first saw the DVD when I rented it from our library. People's will to live when things seem almost insurmountable is something that always interests me. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mrs Myrna R Sentes
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