|Born||13 April 1960|
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Joe Simpson (born 1960) is a British mountaineer, author, and motivational speaker. While climbing in Peru in 1985, he suffered severe injuries and was thought lost after falling into a crevasse, but he survived and managed to crawl back to his base camp. He described the ordeal in his best-selling 1988 book Touching the Void , which was adapted into a 2003 documentary film of the same name.
Simpson was born on 13 August 1960to a Scottish father and an Irish mother, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where his father was stationed with the British Army. From the age of 8, Simpson travelled between schools in Britain and various countries where his father was stationed. Simpson began rock climbing after being introduced to the sport at Peak Scar on the Hambleton Hills in north-eastern Yorkshire by a teacher at Ampleforth College. He was 14 when he read The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer, about the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger by Harrer with Anderl Heckmair, Fritz Kasparek, and Ludwig Vörg in 1938. Despite the inherent dangers of mountaineering described in the book, this reading sparked a passion for the mountains in Simpson.
In 1985, Simpson and climbing partner Simon Yates made a first-ascent of the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Cordillera Huayhuash of the Peruvian Andes. On the descent, Simpson broke his right leg and during their subsequent self-rescue in a storm, he and Yates became separated. The climb was nearly fatal for both climbers and, after they returned to Britain, a misleading article in a national newspaper led to Yates being criticised for having cut a rope that was keeping himself and Simpson together.
Simpson published an article about the Siula Grande ordeal in the climbing press shortly afterwards,and later wrote the best-selling book Touching the Void . The book has been translated into 23 languages and has sold almost two million copies worldwide. Simpson wrote further about the Siula Grande expedition in his book This Game of Ghosts as did Yates in his book Against the Wall. A film based on the Touching the Void book was released in 2003. It takes the form of a docudrama with climbing sequences filmed in the European Alps and the Peruvian Andes together with interviews with Simpson, Yates and the third member of the expedition Richard Hawking (a non-climber).
Simpson underwent six surgical operations as a result of the leg injuries sustained on Siula Grande. The doctors told him he would never climb again and that he would have trouble walking for the rest of his life. After two years of rehabilitation, however, he returned to mountain climbing.
His later non-fiction books describe other expeditions and his changing feeling towards extreme mountaineering brought on by the many deaths that surround the pursuit. A bad fall broke Simpson's left ankle while climbing with Mal Duff in 1991 on Pachermo in Nepal, and is described in his third book This Game of Ghosts. Simpson also made six unsuccessful attempts on the North Face of the Eiger from 2000 to 2003 with his regular climbing partner Ray Delaney, all of which had to be aborted due to bad weather.One of his books, The Beckoning Silence, was made into a documentary shown on Channel 4 in October 2007. The book won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award (Outdoor Literature category).
Simpson has another career as a motivational speaker, addressing corporate events throughout the world. His most recent book is the novel Walking the Wrong Side of the Grass, published in 2018.
Simpson is one of six people mentioned in the song "Ali in the Jungle" by English rock band The Hours ("Like Simpson on the mountain"), as an example of someone who overcame hardship and beat the odds to make a comeback.
Except as noted, all works are non-fiction.
Heinrich Harrer was an Austrian mountaineer, sportsman, geographer, and author. He was a member of the four-man climbing team that made the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, the "last problem" of the Alps. He wrote the books Seven Years in Tibet (1952) and The White Spider (1959).
The Eiger is a 3,967-metre (13,015 ft) mountain of the Bernese Alps, overlooking Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, just north of the main watershed and border with Valais. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends across the Mönch to the Jungfrau at 4,158 m (13,642 ft), constituting one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps. While the northern side of the mountain rises more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the two valleys of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, the southern side faces the large glaciers of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, the most glaciated region in the Alps. The most notable feature of the Eiger is its nearly 1,800-metre-high (5,900 ft) north face of rock and ice, named Eiger-Nordwand, Eigerwand or just Nordwand, which is the biggest north face in the Alps. This huge face towers over the resort of Kleine Scheidegg at its base, on the homonymous pass connecting the two valleys.
Touching the Void is a 1988 book by Joe Simpson, recounting his and Simon Yates near fatal descent after climbing the 6,344-metre (20,814 ft) peak Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. Approximately 15% of the book is written by Yates. It has sold over a million copies and has been translated into over 20 languages.
Simon Yates is an English mountaineer. He has described himself as 'an adventurer'. Yates is most well known as being one of two British mountaineers that conquered the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande in the Huayhuash mountain range in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. He and Joe Simpson completed the difficult climb, at times enduring extreme weather conditions. They subsequently survived a dramatic series of events on the descent. Simpson recounted the story in the book Touching the Void, which was later adapted into a film.
Siula Grande is a mountain in the Huayhuash mountain range in the Peruvian Andes. It is 6,344 metres (20,814 ft) high and has a subpeak, Siula Chico, 6,260 m (20,540 ft) high.
The White Spider is a book written by Heinrich Harrer that describes the first successful ascent of the Eiger Nordwand, a mountain in the Berner Oberland of the Swiss Alps with sections devoted to the history of mountaineering in the area.
Donald Desbrow Whillans was an English rock climber and mountaineer. He climbed with Joe Brown and Chris Bonington on many new routes, and was considered the technical equal of both.
Toni Kurz was a German mountain climber active in the 1930s. He died during an attempt to climb the Eiger north face with his partner Andreas Hinterstoisser.
Touching the Void is a 2003 docudrama survival film directed by Kevin Macdonald and starring Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, and Ollie Ryall. The plot concerns Joe Simpson and Simon Yates' near-fatal descent after making the first successful ascent of the West Face of Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes, in 1985. It is based on Simpson's 1988 book of the same name.
Dermot Somers is an Irish mountaineer, explorer, writer, and broadcaster. He was educated in the Irish-speaking Coláiste Mhuire, Dublin, and graduated from University College Dublin with a BA and HDipEd, and worked for a time as a teacher, before concentrating full-time on writing, broadcasting, and travelling. He now lives in Drogheda.
Fritz Kasparek was an Austrian mountaineer who was on the team that made the first ascent of the Eiger north face.
Andreas Hinterstoisser was a German mountain climber active in the 1930s. He died during an attempt to climb the Eiger north face with his partner Toni Kurz. A section of the north face was later named the "Hinterstoisser Traverse" in his honor. The 2008 film North Face was based on his experience climbing the Eiger.
Karl Mehringer was a German mountaineer and climber. Notable for being part of the first team to attempt to climb the Eiger Nordwand or North Face in 1935. He and Max Sedlmeyer climbed as far as the top of the "Flat Iron" feature where they were overtaken by a storm and died. His body was found in 1962 on the second icefield by a German rope team.
Max Sedlmayr was a German mountaineer and climber. A member of the first team to attempt the North Face of the Eiger in 1935. After three days he and Karl Mehringer were overtaken by a storm at the top of the "Flat Iron" feature of the face and both were killed.
The Beckoning Silence is a 2007 British television film that follows and retraces the 1936 Eiger north face climbing disaster where five climbers perished while attempting to scale the north face of the Eiger. The film features climber Joe Simpson, whose book of the same name inspired the film.
Willy Angerer was an Austrian mountaineer. He was one of four mountaineers who died in the 1936 Eiger north face climbing disaster, along with Toni Kurz, Andreas Hinterstoisser and Eduard Rainer. At twenty-seven Angerer was the oldest of the four climbers who died.
Touching the Void is a play written by David Greig, based on the book of the same name by Joe Simpson. It made its world premiere at the Bristol Old Vic in September 2018, before embarking on a short UK and international tour. The play centres on the true story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, climb of the 6,344-metre west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
Eduard Rainer was an Austrian mountaineer. He was one of the four climbers who died in the 1936 Eiger north face climbing disaster, along with Toni Kurz, Andreas Hinterstoisser and Willy Angerer.