Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

Author:Joe Simpson [Simpson, Joe]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Mountains, Mountaineering accidents, Travel, Essays & Travelogues, Sports & Recreation, Mountaineering, Mountaineers, Andes, Siula Grande; Mount (Peru)
ISBN: 9780099452294
Publisher: Vintage
Published: 2003-11-12T00:00:00+00:00

Dead? I couldn’t conceive of him dead, not now, not after I’ve survived. The chill silence of the crevasse came over me; the feel of tombs, of space for the lifeless, coldly impersonal. No one had ever been here. Simon, dead? Can’t be! I’d have heard him, seen him come over the cliff. He would have come on to the rope, or down here. I began to giggle again. Despite my efforts I couldn’t prevent it, and the echoes bounced back at me from the ice walls, sounding cracked and manic. It became so that I couldn’t work out whether I was laughing or sobbing. The noises that returned from the darkness were distorted and inhuman, cackling echoes rolling up and around me. I giggled more, listened and giggled again, and for a moment forgot Simon, and the crevasse, and even my leg. I sat, hunched against the ice wall, laughing convulsively, and shivering. It was the cold. Part of me recognised this; a calm rational voice in my head told me it was the cold and the shock. The rest of me went quietly mad while this calm voice told me what was happening and left me feeling as if I were split in two - one half laughing, and the other looking on with unemotional objectivity. After a time I realised it had all stopped, and I was whole again. I had shivered some warmth back, and the adrenalin from the fall had gone.

I searched in my rucksack for the spare torch battery I knew was there. When I had fitted it, I switched on the beam and looked into the black space by my side. The bright new beam cut down through the blackness and lit ice walls that danced away down into depths my torch couldn’t reach.

The ice caught the light, so that it gleamed in blue, silver and green reflections, and I could see small rocks frozen into the surface dotted the walls at regular intervals. They glistened wetly as I swept the beam down the smooth scalloped dimples. I swallowed nervously. By the light I could see down into 100 feet of space. The walls, twenty feet apart, showed no sign of narrowing. I could only guess at how many hundreds of feet the blackness beyond my torch was hiding. In front of me the opposite wall of the crevasse reared up in a tangle of broken ice blocks and fifty feet above me they arched over to form a roof. The slope to my right fell away steeply for about thirty feet, after which it disappeared. Beyond it lay a drop into darkness.

The darkness beyond the light gripped my attention. I could guess what it hid, and I was filled with dread. I felt trapped, and looked quickly around me for some break in the walls. There was none.

Ice flashed light back from hard blank walls, or else the beam was swallowed by the impenetrable blackness of the holes on either side. The


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