Posted by: Moon | January 14, 2010

Touching the Void

I first stumbled across the ‘film’ / book about 7 years ago, I think (don’t quote me on that time scale). From the second I started watching it I was transfixed on the story.

It is a ‘film’ about 2 mountaineers that start out on the climb to be the first people to sit upon  summit of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Joe Simpson and Simon Yates started the accent from their base camp, and after 2 days of extreme ice and snow climbing achieved their aim and dream. It was on the decent the troubles began, and one of the most amazing stories of self motivation and instinct to stay alive began. On the decent Joe Simpson fell though a snow overhang, and fell not far, but managed to break his leg. At 22,000 ft this is a disaster, and they both knew it. To sum up the situation, it meant certain death for Joe, and if Simon had stayed to help, probably would sign his death warrant to. Joe thought Simon would leave, saying he would ‘go for help’… but no, Simon decided to do all he could to try to lower Joe down the mountain and to safety. They fashion a length of rope but tying two lengths of 150m rope together, and Simon could then lower Joe up to 300m at a time. All was going well, if not excruciatingly painfully for Joe, for the 1st three drops of 300m each time. As they attempted the 4th ‘drop’ Joe slid over a vertical drop. With Simon 100m up the mountain, blizzard howling in, he could not hear the cries of the now suspended Joe. He waited and waited for Joe to be able to take his weight off the line so he could start his own decent. With Joe ‘swinging’ in mid air, there was no hope of this ever happening. With the cold biting in, and Simon gradually began being pulled off the mountain, he had to make a choice. The only choice he could make…

He cut the rope.

Simon knew Joe would fall to his certain death, he also knew if he just stayed there, they would both die, so he made his choice. Bunkered down for the night, and in the clear morning, he managed to make his way off the mountain to base camp. In shock and of course with the obvious guilt.

Joe had indeed fallen, about 100 m into a deep crevasse, and he lay, alive, in agony and no chance of a recovery. The choices he made then were both brave and amazing. The story unfolds, over the next 4 days how he managed to motivate himself to escape from his ice grave, and decent the mountain suffering from his shattered leg, hunger and thirst. How Simon for some bizarre reason stayed on at the camp rather then descending further, and how, on the brink of death Joe crawled the last few steps to within hearing distance of the camp.

It’s a remarkable true story, told by the climbers themselves. Joe with obvious emotion, but from Simon with a matter of fact narration……

I urge you to watch or read this amazing true story, and if you ever wanted to find motivation and drive.. this is the true story for you.



  1. Ooh never seen it. What do you recommend? Book or film?

    • Film first, def film first …

  2. I’d forgotten it but I have seen it. Very inspiring.

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