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March 7, 2006

Touching the Void


First, read the book by legendary mountaineer Joe Simpson, then watch the movie.

You don't have to be a climber or adventurous to become absorbed by Simpson's autobiographical account of a good day with his climbing partner Simon Yates gone terribly bad on Siula Grande in the Peruvian Alps in 1985.

His story is way beyond gripping and frightening: you couldn't make it up.

Long story short: it took two years and six operations before Simpson was functional again, so terrible were the injuries he suffered on the descent.

The movie rights were three times purchased and then abandoned as prospective filmmakers decided it was too difficult a film to make.

Finally, in 2003 the movie came out.

I watched it last night on DVD and it is simply magnificent.

Simpson and Yates narrate the film in fascinating on–camera interviews interspersed with spectacular footage shot on the site of their great adventure in the Peruvian Alps, with expert climbers playing their roles.

Simpson, not a man who is prone to becoming overtly emotional, breaks down and starts crying at one point as he describes some of his bleakest moments, when he was certain he was going to die alone on the mountain.

You can buy a used copy of his book at Amazon for 98 cents if you're not sure you want to invest a whole lot.

If even that's too much you can watch a trailer for the movie here.

Joe Simpson's website went live in December of last year.


Here's a link to a 1995 interview that appeared in Climber magazine.

March 7, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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An excellent sequel to "Touching The Void" is Simpson's book "This Game of Ghosts". He tells of other close calls he has had in the mountains. Even more intersting is that after he recuperated from his experience in Touching The Void, he went climbing again and had another major accident and had to be rescued. The guy is a die hard mountaineer.

Posted by: Steve Mallory | Mar 8, 2006 12:32:06 PM

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