Tucked into a snow cave high in the Peruvian Andes, climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates should have been elated. After all, they had just completed what no one ever had: a technically difficult, dangerous ascent up the West Face of the Siula Grande. Their descent, however, was proving to be more treacherous than anticipated with powder flutings, unstable ridges, and deceptive cornices causing frequent minor falls and near misses. Instead of jubilation, they simply couldn’t shake feelings of dread.
Their anxiety was well-placed. The next day would bring a series of catastrophes that would test them physically and mentally in ways they could never imagine. First Joe fell from a cliff and shattered his knee. Then Simon, after heroically lowering Joe down the mountain, inadvertently lowered Joe off an ice cliff and into a crevasse. Suspended over black nothingness, Joe had no way to climb to safety and Simon, fingers blackened with frostbite and slipping down the mountain, had no way to haul him up. With no other choice, Simon cut the rope.
Remarkably Joe only plummeted 100 feet into the crevasse before landing on an ice bridge. But a quick death would almost have been preferable to the terrifying predicament he now faced: with only the cold, glittering stars above and dreadful nothingness below, staying put meant certain death but to descend into nothingness was almost too horrifying to contemplate.
Gripping and unforgettable, Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void is the true story of unimaginable circumstances and a human spirit determined to survive.