Brown Girl in the Ring
In 1985, two British climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates became the first climbers to summit Siula Grande (appx 22,000’) in the Peruvian Andes. On the way down Joe took a bad fall and broke his leg very badly. Simon who should have left Joe attempted an amazing rescue effort. Simon tied two ropes together and lowered Joe 300 feet at a time. While on belay, Joe fell off a cliff and was hanging while Simon’s anchor was getting more and more unstable. At some point Simon made the very difficult (but correct) decision to cut the rope. Joe fell into a crevasse and was presumed dead.
Simon made the very difficult solo descent back to their base camp. Joe meanwhile with a broken leg and no food or water climbed out of the crevasse with his two ice tools (what most people would call an ice axe, but an ice axe is actually something different) and only 1 good leg. This was an amazing climb, probably the most amazing one in all of rock/ice climbing history.
The movie Touching the Void, documents this heroic and epic ascent, rescue effort and Joe’s climb out of the crevasse and days long crawl over the glacier back to base camp. Went to see it last night with Linda and John and lets just say we were all pretty moved. The strength and courage to stay alive and never give up was very motivating. It also reminded me of the lessons I learned on Everest, both in climbing and living your life. Somehow after seeing this movie the little things in life that bog your down don’t seem to matter all that much.
PS Siula Grande has yet to be summited again. Joe still climbs.
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