In 1985, two British mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, embarked on a daring--arguably reckless in the extreme--attempt to climb the previously unconquered mountain Siula Grande. A mixture of overconfidence in their own abilities and underestimation of the climb's difficulties brought them to grief after the successful slog to the summit. What follows is an often harrowing account of their perilous descent.
Based on Joe Simpson's gripping book, the film boasts glorious widescreen photography of Siula Grande and its notorious glacier. Actors take the place of the two climbers for close-ups, though Simpson did return to Peru in order to reenact parts of his dreadful crawl back down the ice. The story of Simpson's almost-superhuman fortitude has become legendary in climbing circles, and even for viewers uninterested in mountaineering, Touching the Void is an astonishing slice of real-life drama, magnificently retold. --Mark Walker
The brief details of the climb of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates is that their ascent is relatively straight forward despite the mountain being more technically difficult than they had expected. It on the descent that problems really began. Firstly and, obviously, critically, Simpson slipped on an ice ledge and smashed right leg. The only piece of good fortune being that no bone penetrated the skin. It was thus left to Yates to assist his partner to the base camp.
At this point, matters deteriorated further when Yates was forced to cut their connecting rope when Simpson had fallen over a cliff and was in danger of dragging his partner with him. Yates then proceeded to climb down having realistically left Simpson for dead. However, by a combination of luck and supreme courage, Simpson too made the descent but in a truly battered state. He had, for example, lost one third of his body weight!
Upon the climbers return to their native England, Yates was apparently criticised for cutting Yates loose. Simpson never joined this criticism but only praised Yates for his efforts.
The film is a re-enactment of the heroism of the two climbers. It outlines to all that mountain climbing is a dangerous past time that only the foolish and/or the brave can contemplate. The film should be seen by all if only for the wonderful telling of a story of heroism within a vast, magnificent and unforgiving landscape.
This documentary-like reconstruction of a harrowing 1985 true-climbing incident on the... Read more