Saturday, 10 May 2014

An Inspired Read

If you have read 'Touching the Void', you will know it is the grim recount of Joe Simpson's survival of an accident that almost killed him. Joe broke his leg on the descent from Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes and was initially helped down by his climbing partner Simon Yates. But as Simon lowered Joe, near the bottom of the mountain, Joe found himself suspended in fresh air after being lowered over a overhang. Unable to climb back up the rope, and with Simon in a poor belay position, Simon took the decision to cut Joe free.

More than just an attempt to tell the story, it is Joe Simpson's means to explain to the mountaineering community, and the wider audience, as to why Simon Yates took the necessary step of cutting Joe free, something that was highly controversial at the time. And in the long run, saving Joe's and his own lives. If he hadn't cut the rope they were guaranteed not to survive.

Joe Simpson then wrote a follow up 'This Game of Ghosts', a broader look at Joe Simpson's life.

I have seen a recent comment on Youtube referring to Joe Simpson as basically a climber who has succeeded little in climbing. To that person I have to say you are making comments about someone you clearly know little about. Reading Joe's new book you find he has had his share of successes, accidents and losses, both personally and practically.

The book covers the period from Joe's colourful youth, right through his climbing career, and beyond. The book has surprising moments where it has nothing at all to do with climbing. But as it goes on it all comes together, a well crafted book with motivations being quite a dominant subject. It is both entertaining and inspiring. It makes you chuckle, it shocks you, and it is hard to put down. It also looks at the practical aspects of mountaineering, the hard choices, and the many losses. No matter the abilities of the individual, or the equipment used, the environment is king. As prepared as you may be, the elements can potentially and rapidly turn success into tragedy.

If you have read 'Touching the Void' and enjoyed it, this is a logical step on. This book gives more than just a story of someone's life, it gives you the motivation to push past your perceived limitations and go for it.

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