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Touching The Void Paperback – 1 Jan 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099771012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099771012
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former mountaineer Joe Simpson is the author of several best-selling books, of which the first, Touching the Void, won both the NCR award and the Boardman Tasker Award.

His later books are This Game of Ghosts - the sequel to Touching the Void, Storms of Silence, Dark Shadows Falling, The Beckoning Silence and two novels, The Water People and The Sound of Gravity.

Product Description


"On every level it is an outstanding literary achievement"--The Independent

"A quite extraordinary and moving book... Touching the Void touches the Great Questions in an understated yet utterly compelling way"--The Guardian

"A truly astonishing account of suffering and fortitude... the narrative acquires an irresistible force, carrying all before it."--Sunday Times

Book Description

The story of this nail-biting struggle for survival in the Peruvian Andes is a mountaineering classic.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book recounts an amazing tale of courage, fortitude, and the will to live, despite dire circumstances. The author, Joe Simpson, and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, attempted to ascend a perilous section of the Peruvian Andes. Near the summit, tragedy struck when Joe, up over 19,000 feet, fell and hit a slope at the base of a cliff, breaking his right leg, rupturing his right knee, and shattering his right heel. Beneath him was a seemingly endless fall to the bottom.
When Simon reached him, they both knew that the chances for getting Joe off the mountain were virtually non-existent. Yet, they fashioned a daring plan to to do just that. For the next few hours, they worked in tandem through a snow storm, and managed a risky, yet effective way of trying to lower Joe down the mountain.
About three thousand feet down, Joe, who was still roped to Simon, dropped off an edge and found himself now free hanging in space six feet away from an ice wall, unable to reach it with his axe. The edge was over hung about fifteen feet above him. The dark outline of a crevasse lay about a hundred feet directly below him.
Joe could not get up, and Simon could not get down. In fact, Joe's weight began to pull Simon off the mountain. So, Simon was finally forced to do the only thing he could do under the circumstances. He cut the rope, believing that he was consigning his friend to certain death. Therein lies the tale.
What happens next is sure to make one believe in miracles. This is an absorbing read and one of the great stories in mountaineering literature.
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105 of 109 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Jan. 2000
Format: Hardcover
In 1985 two English climbers set out to climb the remote western face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. The face had repulsed several previous attempts, and despite the odds the two experienced Alpinists made the summit. It was during the descent that the author fell down a small ice cliff and broke his leg. The few paragraphs describing what happens when his climbing partner reaches him, and the descriptions of what is going through their minds and what is said and what is not said is perhaps one of the most tense things in the book. What follows is perhaps one of the most outstanding and dramatic accounts of the human will to survive ever written. Simpson wrote the book whilst recovering from his injuries and has admitted that he found reliving the ordeal painfull. Consequently he wrote the book in a very succinct fashion; he does not use ten words if he can use one, and he always chooses the words well. This book is real edge of the seat stuff, and I read it through in one night, dosed up on coffee, and turned up at work the next day babbling about the book. My advice is don't start reading it if you have work the next day. I have spoken to several other people who have read it and without exception they have found it memorable. A truly remarkable book, one you will remember for a long time. Now move the mouse to the order button !
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By spirit9479 on 23 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
I think this is a wonderful book and I am only a teenager. Simpson gives you a detailed account of his ordeal on Siula Grande. It is one of the few books that have you looking upon life differently and consider that maybe there is more to life and death and anything in between. He tells us how terrible dying alone is and how much he longed for company on those fateful nights.
Simpson gives good descriptions on the technical side of mountaineering and the photos of Siula Grande are absolutly wonderful. I was also quite shocked to hear that Simon Yates, Simpsons climbling partner, was harshly criticised about cutting the rope, as to me it was the only option to save at least one of their lives, and as a catch22 situation, one of them or both of them was bound to die. However but got away with it and I'm sure it is something no human could ever even imagine was possible.
All in all, a superb book and I recomend it to anyone, climber or not, because I honestly could not put it down and kept re-reading it for a month.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. P. Venables on 9 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
Dig Deep/Touching the void

For me the controversy is of secondary concern because, for me, Touching the Void contains some of the most inspiring chapters ever written. With broken limbs and a dehydrated body, Joe Simpson is forced to make his way down a treacherous mountain, to his base camp. Simpson talks of a tiny voice in his mind, pushing him onward when everyone else had seemingly left him for dead. These chapters contain the very definition of digging deep and can be inspiring for anyone, whatever there day to day life contains.

The controversy is in regards to the breaking of the ultimate climbing rule, cutting the rope. Climbers, climb joined together by a line and in cutting the rope the Joe's partner had to take a fall that would have killed him. There are no apologies here for that, and the author regards his critics as armchair adventurers.

The writing style is frank, honest and accessible. It is a riveting account of an extraordinary event.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By "richardhell" on 25 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
Joe Simpson doesn't tell us much about where he's from or what he is about as a person. This actually gives the book its intimacy. As the cruel and miraculous events of his story play out, Joe's struggles to survive become a voice crying in the wilderness, a voice that the captivated reader almost comes to feel as his own. I couldn't believe what he was going through, and yet felt very much as if I was with him all the way. Touching The Void is a book where you take an unrelenting horrible trip and savor each victory over death with elation. There is plenty of food for thought; especially about the infamous rope-cutting incident, and Joe's realisation that his partner on the mountain is already thinking that he's dead as soon as he's hurt himself. It is a book I'd recommend for everyone, say, 13 years and older. It not only leaves you with wanting more of the same: a taste for more epic stories that essentially take place in the author's skull, even as they physically labor. My hunger to go deeper and further led me to Peter Hillary's kaleidoscopic memoir `In The Ghost Country'. While there's been nothing yet in the mainstream press about the book -- probsably because Hillary was all over the news six months ago, with the 50th anniversary of his father's (and Tenzing Norgay's) historic climb on Mount Everest) -- but there is a real word-of-mouth buzz happening with `In The Ghost Country'. It is a masterpiece, where you start out thinking it's one kind of book and find out -- in its overall effect, more than in its individual stories -- it's like nothing else you've ever read. It made me believe you can really talk to the dead, when in extremis anyway. Deserves to be a classsic as much as Joe Simpson's book, and through great democratic forums like this one, it's becoming one.
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