In 1985 two climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, decided to climb Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes… they made the summit in tact… but coming down became a bit of a problem. The 2003 documentary Touching the Voidpresents what happened to these men in amazing detail through both awesome technically accurate re-enactments and through the men’s own words.
Yes, both men survived… that is evident from the beginning as both men are talking about the experience throughout the film… but neither of them came home remotely close to who they were before they left. In a nutshell… both men went up… Joe breaks his leg, Simon tries lowering his friend down the mountain via ropes… at one point Joe ends up hanging off a cliff with Simon having no clue whether his buddy is dead or alive and in an attempt to save his own life, Simon cuts the rope. Assuming his climbing partner as died Simon returns to camp…. but Joe isn’t dead.
The adventure that follows is absolutely incredible and difficult to watch. I won’t retell how he survives… but he does. And this film documents this adventure in such a way that you will occasionally have to check your own fingers and toes to make sure they are frost bitten. Touching the Void is that rare film that manages to please just about everyone… from the most hard core mountaineer to the hard core couch potato… every detail is accounted for and the film makers managed to get the sport of climbing right. The correct gear, correct technique, correct story.
Watch this movie on as big and as good of a screen as possible. Visually stunning, you will be rewarded with a view very few people will have the opportunity to see in real life. And as I mentioned, filmed with such accuracy it’s simply a joy (and horror) to behold.
If you want to know what it is to potentially die on an icy mountain with no chance of rescue, watch this movie. If you want to know how to stay alive with no chance of living… watch this movie. What I’m getting at is… but it, rent it or stream it… just see this movie.
Climbing up the walls,
Cornelius J. Blahg