Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson


Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, are attempting to reach the peak of 21,000 foot Siula Grande in Peru. The two eventually make it to the top but then it starts to snow and cracks appear in the ice. Simpson ends up falling and breaking his leg badly. He's at the top of the mountain and you need two legs to get down. Simon tries to help Joe but it gets to the point where Simon needs to cut Joe's rope to save himself, leaving Joe to find a way down the mountain himself.

Simon returns to base camp with a heavy heart and a lot of guilt. But Joe isn't dead. He's still fighting to get down the mountain despite his broken leg and no food or water. This is a tale of survival, but it felt rather monotonous to me. He fell while climbing over rocks and we're told about each individual rock he fell over. Having read books like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, I felt that this one was missing some of the magic from that book. Everything just happened and there wasn't much suspense about it nor awe from it because it was drawn out.

Part of the problem could have been the language used. While I know what some of the terms are, I had to look up "col" and "abseil". Wouldn't rappel be a better word in place of abseil? Wouldn't more people understand it? Even though this story takes place in 1985, it has a timeless quality to it. This could happen today.

Even though there seem to be three afterwards for this book, no wh ere does it actually state what the hell was wrong with his leg! All the book spent talking about how much pain his leg was in and what was wrong with it, I expected to learn exactly what the problem was with it and how they fixed it.

First Line: "I was lying in my sleeping bag, staring at the light filtering through the red and green fabric of the dome tent."


No comments: