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

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  32,856 Ratings  ·  1,188 Reviews
Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Andrea
Nov 23, 2011 Andrea rated it did not like it
Me and Simon decided to climb this one mountain in Peru. We went to the mountain. We met this other guy along the way. He was weird.

We hooked our doohickeys into the thingiebobbers and climbed over such-and-such thing. It was hard. Then we attached our zippity-do-dahs into the crack of this one big hunk of ice/rock and did this climbing thingie. Then we spent the night.

The next day we blabbidy-blahed over the thingimajig. We thought we might have to garbledy-gook over the cattywhompus but we m
...more
Graham
May 22, 2008 Graham rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, even non-climbers
Recommended to Graham by: Denali
One of my absolute favorite books, it transcends the genre.

Some readers might be put off by talk of abseils, carabineers and crampons, but this is more than a book about mountaineering, this is a book about being human. It speaks of mortally, determination, suffering, hope, and friendship. Joe Simpson conveys what climbing is to reader whom has never be off asphalt, what suffering is to the reader whom has never been off a cushion, and, what friendship is to the lonely. This book will take you t
...more
Mike Steven
Sep 08, 2012 Mike Steven rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Simpson had a remarkable experience - totally of his whole making, but nevertheless the way he survived was pretty amazing. Sadly, reading about it is a far less remarkable experience. To enjoy the book, you may need to really know what a 'col' is, what a 'moraine' is and the dangers and qualities of three types of snow and countless types of ice.



Essentially, it's one hundred pages of very, very detailed descriptions of climbing up a mountain - who belayed when is covered in full detail, as
...more
Chrissie
Exciting? Yes!
This is the quintessential survival story, and it is true!

In 1985 Joe Simpson and Simon Yates decide to climb the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. I am no mountaineer, but even I could spot some of their errors. The book focuses on moral issues too.
(view spoiler)
...more
Brad
I never really understood what there was to debate in the "big debate" surrounding Touching the Void.

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates made the first ascent on the west face of Siula Grande in 1985 but ran into some serious trouble coming back down. A storm kicked up, and Simpson fell on the ice, driving his tibia through his knee. His leg was a serious mess, and the pair tried to descend as fast as they could with the bad weather getting worse (more on that later).

They made their descent with Yates h
...more
Hippo dari Hongkong
Oct 19, 2008 Hippo dari Hongkong rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hippo dari Hongkong by: Njum

By the time I reach the last page I recalled I heard myself screaming
"Man, this dude is really something!"
"Edaaaaaan!"
An unbelievable and gripping story about survival and never say die spirit at its best

POSSIBLY SPOILERS

Joe Simpson dan sahabatnya, Simon Yates melakukan pendakian gunung Siula Grande (6.300m dpl) dipegunungan Andes, Peru. Setelah berhasil mencapai puncak dan dalam perjalanan menuruni gunung Joe terperosok sehingga kakinya patah. Suatu kondisi yang bisa dianggap vonis mati digunun
...more
ValerieLyn
Dec 22, 2007 ValerieLyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
okay. i am still not going to climb any mountains, at least not any that are covered with glaciers and are over 10K feet.
but what really got me about this story, what deeply deeply moved me to a new understanding of human endurance, was not that he climbed the peruvian andes, suffered sub zero temperatures huddled in a dugout snow cave, got frostbitten digits, put his life in his climbing partner's hands, or alternately held his climbing partner's life in his own hands, or that he shattered his
...more
Laurie
Jun 18, 2016 Laurie rated it really liked it

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates were young, fearless and a little too careless while attempting to climb a 21,000 peak in the Andes.
They were tired of their climbs in the Alps with all the traffic and thought a secluded climb in a beautiful setting would be a welcome change.
They were enjoying their seclusion on the mountain until disaster struck.

Joe Simpson suffers a serious fall and breaks his leg on the top of the mountain. He is completely helpless and wholly dependent on Simon to save his lif
...more
Judy
Jan 27, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventure memoir junkies
This book operates on two speeds: fast and faster. If I hadn't been reading several other books at the same time, it would have been a one or two day read with its scanty 174 pages.

The story takes place on Peru's 21,000 foot Siula Grande, a peak in the Andes Mountain range. Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, are alone on the mountain when disaster strikes and Joe slips, falls and fractures his leg. Plenty of excitement follows, but I will leave mention of any details for readers
...more
Pete Marchetto
Jul 20, 2014 Pete Marchetto rated it really liked it
Long, long ago, I used to play pool in the Broadfield pub in Sheffield. I used to play another bloke regularly, nice guy - if a bit irascible at times - and, one day, he asked me what I did. "Writer," I said, "but unsuccessful."

"Oh," he said. "I've written a book too. Published. It's not doing too badly."

He seemed like an interesting bloke, intelligent, given to philosophising, had seen a bit of the world as a mountain climber, so I thought I'd give it a shot - as much out of politeness as anyth
...more
Scott
Mar 09, 2012 Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: walks, 1980s, hills
Not since Moses clambered up Sinai to meet his maker has the story of a man, a mountain, and a brush with infinity attracted so much attention as Joe Simpson's Touching the Void (1988). The book has become a perennial favorite with adrenaline addicts and is found near the top of most mountain literature must-read lists. Though the first chapters are laced with technical climbing jargon, the great chunk of the story is related in the short cries, grunts, and obscenities you would expect to find p ...more
Tressa
We climbed 'cause it's fun. And mainly it was fun. That's all we ever did. And we were fairly anarchic and fairly irresponsible, and we didn't give a damn about anyone else or anything else, and we just wanted to climb the world. And it was fun. It was just brilliant fun. And every now and then it went wildly wrong. And then it wasn't. ~ Joe Simpson

I must confess: I’m a couch potato. I’m not proud but I’m honest. Regardless, this doesn’t keep me from enjoying watching others push their bodies to
...more
Palsay
Dec 02, 2008 Palsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, memoar
Sungguh bersyukur bulan November ini saya kebanjiran buku-buku bermutu.

Salah satunya adalah buku ini. Touching The Void adalah kisah mengenai pendakian di pegunungan Andes, Peru, yang dilakukan oleh Simon Yates dan Joe Simpson. Sesungguhnya pendakian berlangsung sempurna dan mereka sempat mengambil gambar-gambar yang menakjubkan sebelum akhirnya kelelahan.

Hawa dingin dan cuaca yang tak menentu juga ikut menentukan nasib mereka. Simon terserang frostbite yang cukup parah pada jari tangannya, se
...more
Leila
Aug 11, 2013 Leila rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
After ascending a 21,000 foot peak in the Andes, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are on their way down when Joe falls and breaks his leg. Rather than leave his partner behind, Simon begins the arduous task of belaying Joe down the face of the mountain. Suddenly, as Simon is lowering Joe into the mists, all of Joe's weight pulls the rope taught. After several minutes, with no release of weight and his own position in serious danger, Simon makes the painful decision to cut the rope on his partner.
U
...more
Lukasz Pruski
Aug 27, 2014 Lukasz Pruski rated it liked it
I find it very hard to review non-fiction books because it requires carefully distinguishing between the impact of the real-life events they describe and the quality of the description itself. Joe Simpson's "Touching the Void" (originally 1988, but I have read the 2004 edition) presents an absolutely amazing story of a mountain climber's survival. Yet, despite the tremendous impact of the events shown, the book is not outstanding.

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are climbing the yet unconquered West
...more
Chana
I love this book. Such a plain statement, "I love this book", but it contains the total engagement of my heart and mind with Joe's story.
Joe and Simon are in the Peruvian Andes, young healthy experienced mountaineers, to climb the West Face of Suila Grande. They start out in high spirits but the climb on very treacherous terrain and the brutal weather are taking their toll. They make it to the summit, cross the ridge and start to head down but as they proceed Joe falls off a cliff and when he h
...more
Meen
Apr 01, 2016 Meen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how long it's been since a book kept me up reading until the wee hours. This one was riveting. And I initially wanted to say this book was also inspiring because "indomitable will to live," "when you're going through hell keep going," etc., but really, it was just painful. I've been thinking for the past few months that I want to kick my climbing up a notch and start mountaineering. And then I read stories like this and I'm not so sure. It's not that it can't be done more safely tha ...more
M
Jan 15, 2016 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In 'The Sound of Music' Mother Abbess told us to 'climb every mountain'.

This, Mother, is the tale of why that advice should not be followed, no matter how much confidence you have in you (or in 'meeeeeeeee!').

I found it hard to care about a guy stuck up on a mountain by himself (with not a lonely goatherd in sight) - even his broken leg did not inspire sympathy. I kept thinking that he'd done it to himself - no one made him climb up there. I found it hard to care - it did not help that the writ
...more
Becky
If you are looking for a great book about rock climbing/mountaineering, or a book about beating the odds, or a book that is just going to make you squirm in sympathetic pain, then this is the book for you. It’s a great story and true; it’s terrifying and gripping. I read it mostly on the edge of my seat. Simpson’s very blunt and straight forward storytelling is refreshingly honest and humble, and it also places you directly in the moment with him. There is no buffer between the reader and the na ...more
Diane
Mar 26, 2008 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: survival
This is a classic survival book and it includes examples of all the things I look for in a good classic read. Two young mountain climbers attempt a new ascent of a remote mountain in Peru. To save weight and space they do not take enough tools and food with them, then weather and other unexpected difficulties lead to the ascent taking longer than expected. The two climbers push themselves when they should have rested and take some other unnecessary risks so when the author Joe Simpson falls and ...more
Marie
Aug 26, 2011 Marie rated it really liked it
http://mariesbookgarden.blogspot.com/...

My husband went to prep school with Joe Simpson in England (although Simpson's a few years older than him), so I've wanted to read this book for some time.

Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, climbed a mountain peak in the Andes--the 21,000-foot Siula Grande. While ascending, Joe broke his leg...which can be an immediate death sentence for mountain climbers. However, Simon risked his own life to lower Joe 3,000 feet down the mountain while Jo
...more
Walt
Mar 17, 2009 Walt rated it liked it
This is the second time I have read Joe Simpson's Touching the Void. In younger years, when I had more energy and less sense, I probably would have rated it four stars instead of three. Not now.

As to adventure, it pumps adrenalin through readers' veins as fast as the government these days pumps money through the failing finincial institutions, especially after a major catastrophe and the so-called ethical dilemma toward the middle of the book.

What becomes very obvious very soon is how young, imm
...more
Rachel
May 29, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
This book contains a lot of technical climbing descriptions that were difficult to understand precisely, but its story is heart pounding and I found I oouldn't put it down. It is the account of author Joe Simpson's survival after breaking his leg descending 21,000 foot Siula Grande with his climbing partner, Simon Yates. Yates did not leave Simpson after the accident, but risked his own life lowering him for the next 3,000 feet, until Simpson, unbeknowst to Yates above him, fell into a deep crev ...more
Brian Robbins
Apr 19, 2014 Brian Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Excellent read. Many other books on mountaineering reflect the author's passion for the pursuit & are admirable reads, but also very dry reads for the non-participant - in this case a fell walker who only approaches the dangers of real climbing safely ensconced in a comfy armchair.

For once the blurbs on the book about excitement, suspense & powerful emotional content turned out to be true. I have to say that I have never wept before while reading an account of a climb, but Simpson's even
...more
Alexandra Pavaloiu
I loved the sparse, dry style Simpson wrote the book in, I enjoyed the technical descriptions (ok, I am target audience, so I guess it's not everyone's cup of tea), I identified with the "vicious circle" Joe talked about after summit-ing.
I also appreciated not using a ghost writer or a co-writer, the whole experience had a much more visceral feeling to it.
Touching the void is addictive, just like climbing and reaching for goals that might seem unattainable is. I also very much liked the way Jo
...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 30, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy nonfiction mountain climbing books
Ok, even though the reader knows how it ends: as one of the mountaineers wrote this book, it’s incredibly suspenseful. I do seem to adore mountain climbing books, although it’s a totally vicarious experience as you could never get me on one of these expeditions. Especially this one as their method was different than all the other accounts I’ve read of mountain climbers. On the one hand I felt infuriated with these 2 men for taking such huge risks, but their story is unbelievably riveting and wel ...more
Sandy
Jan 19, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandy by: found in the bookstore shelf
20 stars and then some!!!

I think this has got to be one of the best books I have ever read in my life. I must have read it, or portions of it, at least 10-15 times. It is just awe-inducing. The personal struggles of Simon and Joe, the agonizing seconds and minutes and hours of Joe's exhausting drag through the moraines, his inner struggles with life and death, Simon's excruciating conviction that he had not only had to abandon but most certainly killed his friend.... The tension and exhilaration
...more
Kristin Scheidt
Feb 26, 2016 Kristin Scheidt rated it it was ok
Joe Simpson’s memoir Touching the Void tells a terrific story about perseverance. Joe writes about his experience conquering Mount Suila Grande in the Peruvian Andes with seasoned climber Simon Yates. He composes an astonishing story about being strong when encountering adversity and overcoming obstacles.

Joe has a great writing style in that he not only gives his side of this endeavor but also his partner’s point of view. Joe inserts excerpts of Simon’s writing, more so at the end of the book,
...more
April
Jan 14, 2016 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story

I absolutely loved this book, and my only reason for 4 and not 5 stars is that I could have used a little more explanation of the terminology to help me understand what the terrain and climbing experience was like. You should read this book if you enjoy any kind of survival story or outdoor activities. I have seen the mountains in South America and can't easily describe the way they take over and can only imagine through stories like this the sacrifice and courage involved in such a
...more
Muhammad Arqum
Oct 05, 2013 Muhammad Arqum rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! This isn't your regular survival story. There is more to it, there is a lot more to it that cannot be articulated.
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Joe Simpson is the author of the bestselling Touching the Void, as well as four subsequent non-fiction books published by The Mountaineers Books: This Game of Ghosts, Storms of Silence, Dark Shadows Falling, and The Beckoning Silence. The Beckoning Silence won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award. The other three published by The Mountaineers Books were all shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Awa ...more
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“Life can deal you an amazing hand. Do you play it steady, bluff like crazy or go all in?” 17 likes
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