A RadioBook Club Selection Joe Simpson, with just his partner Simon Yates, tackled the unclimbed west face of the remote , foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in June ofBut before they reached the summit, disaster struck A few days later, Simon staggered into base camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non climbing companion that Joe was dead For three days he wrestled with guilt as they prepared to return home Then a cry in the night took them out with torches, where they found Joe, badly injured, crawling through the snowstorm in a delirium Far from causing Joe s death, Simon had paradoxically saved his friend s life What happened, and how they dealt with the psychological trauma that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship I don t know why I read books about climbing mountains..I hate heights..but I ve read a lot of them This account is very well written, and although the reader knows what s going to happen from the beginning it s a survival tale it s still gripping stuff Although the two climbers are young it seems to me a non mountaineer to have been a somewhat amateurish project to climb in those mountains and conditions without a backup team Nevertheless they reached the summit and the tale of the descent sometimes described by both climbers is fascinating The descriptions of the heights involved and the cold are riveting.and the determination to overcome the pain of a broken leg and survive astounding I felt it every inch of the way.A very rare five stars from me..and I enjoyed it so much I found the documentary referred to by Simpson on You Tube and watched that too also excellent and true to the book. I came to this book having heard Joe talking to Jonathon Agnew on Test Match Special.Not bring a mountaineer nor ever wanting to be one, this book confirmed all my fears about participating in such an activity.Joe s recollection of his and Simon s experience on this climb and the horrendous events that took place on their descent, makes for chilling reading.One can never imagine the feelings one would have placed in such predicaments as Simon and in particular, Joe, found themselves in For Joe to survive with such a terrible injury is not a miracle it is down to his sheer guts and determination not to give in and to fight for his life.The story was told with feeling and so graphically that you could feel that you were by their side Being a person that hates cold weather l shivered just imagining being on the mountain with Joe experiencing freezing winds and temperatures.I highly recommend this book. In 1989 I was a climber living in Snowdonia, North Wales, and remember this book being feverishly passed from hand to hand hotter than knocked off climbing gear I read it in one sitting, unable to put it down, and completed it at dawn on a sunny summer s day Yet a black cloud dogged me for some time in a tight spot would I, could I, sacrifice my climbing partner by cutting his rope Or worryingly would my next partner slice me loose.. Amazing survival story that I highly recommend to anyone interested in that genre Only criticism I have is that it was pretty technical at times and if you re not a climber like me those parts can get a bit dry It helps to review the glossary and sometimes to Google some terms as you go along so you have a better understanding of what the author is talking about or else it s pretty close to being gibberish to the layman, which is a minor criticism that can be attributed principally to my own ignorance You obviously know how it ends before reading it so what should be an incredibly suspenseful ending isn t so much, but that doesn t take very much away from the book Also includes some nice pictures and illustrations. Many a great books can end up seemingly tedious for reading due to over detailing My experience of this book is similar And the minute details of mountaineering can be cumbersome to the common reader It took some persistence from my part to keep reading and finish the book with an extraordinary tale of survival. Fascinating, almost unbelievable story The only thing that brings it down is the amount of technical jargon previous reviews mentioned this but having read other mountaineering books I wasn t concerned, however the sheer amount did make it sometimes difficult to understand exactly what was going on. This book tells the story of surviving a climbing expedition accident It is probably like chocolate to a climber as they imagine themselves on the same mountain For a non climber it offers some glimpses into the thoughts, decisions and techniques used If Joe was ever able to augment the book I would have appreciated a section with maps and explanations of terms, snow conditions and techniques Diagrams would be really informative.The second part of the book where both men come to terms and rationalize truly horrifying decisions is surprisingly tender The book made me wonder about climbers in general What makes them want to pit their lives against not only harsh conditions but also twists of fate from which there is no protections.I liked the book even if I couldn t always visualize the situation And I have a craving now to sleep in a snow cave. I read a paperback version of this book around 12 years ago on the recommendation of a friend Normally a powerful new book has a shelf life of a few short months or years but the near continuous presence of Touching the Void among the bestseller list is almost as constant as the mountains featured in the book And for good reason too stories like this never date and this story continues to inspire, motivate and help people believe that in the face of the most appalling odds imaginable anything is possible when focusing one s mind.Recently I downloaded the new anniversary edition of this timeless classic and in doing so it became the only book I have ever read twice Whilst knowing the rough plot of the original story I found myself right back in the pages and ice of what has to be one of the most death defying ordeals of survival ever endured by a human being Whether you like climbing or not is almost irrelevant as the story here is about man overcoming obstacles on a scale of near impossibility The reader is living every inch and minute of the adventure, joy, pain, tragedy, despair, hopelessness, cruelty, determination, will power and eventual escape from an environment that is about as unwelcoming to the ill prepared as you can get.If Joe Simpson s mountaineering skills were lacking in anyway back in 1985 then his writing skills were certainly not In Touching the Void he takes the reader every step of the way sharing the passion of climbing and explaining its many technicalities in an easy to understand way If you re not familiar with terminology such as col, crevasse or crampon then you re at no great loss because everyone can relate to snow, ice, altitude, ropes, frostbite and broken bones whose regular appearances replace the human characters typically found in popular novels.The story is about reaching places where others have rarely ventured, and few of those places involve tall, ice covered mountains Deep within the human soul lie unexplored territories where no ice axe or signal flare will ever get you out Joe has the tools for the job but he doesn t find them in his back pack They appear when he needs them most but from the unlikeliest of sources a door that opens when you not only stare death in the face but embrace it wholly like it was your best friend.Despite the detailing of multiple incidents, Touching the Void is not a depressing book On the contrary Joe Simpson must have felt like he was being born again Even readers will emerge with a different take on life and perhaps re evaluate the possibilities available to them I have read hundreds of books over the years but this one left me with blurred vision and stuttered speech The expression You couldn t make it up was probably never apt did not exist when this book was first published along with mobile phones or the Internet but I am now grateful for the opportunity of being able to thank the author for this wonderful piece of story telling and to recommend it without hesitation to anyone looking for a damn good read.John Kean I had already seen the documentary about this incredible event, but I was still riveted by Joe Simpson s description I could almost understand why people participate in this sport, and I felt connected to him every step of the way.