Sunday, April 03, 2011

Touching the Void

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival
B is into true stories of people climbing Mt. Everest and barely surviving. It started with this Frontline episode about the time nine people died during one storm. It's very good. He's watched it twice, and we'll probably watch it again. So when the book became available on BookMooch, I mooched it. It took him about 3 days to read it; he couldn't put it down. I'll probably read it next. But in the meantime, I happened to be at the library, so I picked up a couple others, and read one.

There aren't a lot of documentaries about people almost dying on Mt. Everest. My impression is that a lot of people die, and a lot of people don't make it to the top. So we've expanded to other mountains. Touching the Void is the story of two Englishmen who climb a mountain in the Andes, and on the way down one breaks his leg, and it gets worse from there. Both survive, but it seems impossible after all they've been through. It's a great movie, so I picked up the book.

The book is very straightforward, and uses a lot of technical climbing language that I didn't know. I have to say the movie was better in that regard because it explained what they were doing and there were re-enactments to show what they meant and how vast the territory is. But the book gives a slightly different impression of the men, their characters. Was the non-broken guy just a jerk, or was he really trying to help? Maybe they are different because of the perspective in the movie interviews (years after the book was written). Anyway, ok book. See the movie. It's available in 11 parts on YouTube at the link above. In fact, I might just watch it right now.

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