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Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival [Paperback]

Joe Simpson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2004
Winner of the Boardman/Tasker Award, this book tells the story of how two friends, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, confront the greatest challenge of their lives. Together on the West Face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, they leave behind the humdrum of everyday. In June 1985 they achieved the summit before 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 snowstorm in a delirium. What happened and how they dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a powerfully moving testament of friendship.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Revised edition (Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060730552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060730550
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,007,659 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The story of this nail-biting struggle for survival in the Peruvian Andes is a mountaineering classic. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXTREME ADVENTURE IN THE PERUVIAN ANDES... 29 Dec 2002
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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102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I must admit I’d had this on my bookshelf, unread, for a while after having acquired a copy of it. Friends of mine kept showering praise on the book but I always seemed to have a ‘reading list’ as long as my arm and somehow I just never managed to fit it in. Prompted at last by the release of the feature length documentary I begun reading it, all the hype and exposure surrounding it still in the back of my mind. To say I understand what all the fuss is about now would be an understatement.
It’s not just Joe’s (and Simon’s) endurance and bravery that is astonishing, but their rich, utterly captivating narrative reads like the best (true) thriller, transporting you effortlessly to the sub-zero wind-blasted heights of the Peruvian Andes. The weather and the mountain begin to take on a menacing personality as they’re pitted against an almost tangible nemesis. Extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances really do extraordinary things. Inspiring and thrilling in equal measure.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching the Void 23 Jan 2006
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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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be called a classic 25 Mar 2004
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very scary and you can't put it down.
Published 12 days ago by Hunny
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all time classics of mountaineering.
One of the all time classics of mountaineering. Along with Darkness Descending it is one of my favuorite books of the genre
Published 14 days ago by alwaysbetblack
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good real life read
A real true life story that is a real page turner. Not five star for me because I didn't get a feeling for the (real life) characters themselves obviously before the accident... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Tony O'Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Great Book!
A real page turner with a thrilling story line definitely worth reading. An amazing real life exciting adventure
Published 16 days ago by Tommy B
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Really enjoyed this. As a climber, skier, snow sport lover who likes adventures and survival, this hits the spot. Well done Joe and Simon as you both succeeded alive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD STUFF
I think the start Is a bit slow paced, just when it gets going it is said truly astounding book
Published 1 month ago by Will Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
Heard about this book from someone else. Did not really think it would be my c of tea but once I had read a couple of cheers I could not put it down. Read more
Published 2 months ago by I am sure the recipient will be pleased with the book. It arrived promptly in good condition.
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and must reed book
This book show how we are programmed to survive, no matter what how high the odds are stacked against us.
Published 2 months ago by Pinnie
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
This was a truly gripping read. After knowing somewhat the basis of the story, I felt on edge knowing the inevitable was coming. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stephendeags
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and powerful true story
Just cant stop reading this mountain stuff , Simpson tells his story as a climber and the polished quality of a experienced writer it grips you when reading the story
Published 3 months ago by Stuart Richardson
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