Touching the Void

Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (854 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Joe Simpson, with just his partner, Simon Yates, tackled the unclimbed West Face of the remote 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in June of 1995. But before they reached the summit, disaster struck.

A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non-climbing companion that Joe was dead. For three days he wrestled with guilt as they prepared to return home. Then a cry in the night took them out with torches, where they found Joe, badly injured, crawling through the snowstorm in a delirium.

Far from causing Joe's death, Simon had paradoxically saved his friend's life. What happened, and how they dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship.

©1988 Joe Simpson (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks

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Wonderfully told true story

Too often, books written based on a true story include too much hyperbole in turning the main character into a hero that did nothing wrong. This story is raw, and honest, and believable, and really well told.

The best part about this story is that it's true. No really, it's true. As you join Simpson in this tale, you'll find yourself saying "no way," but wow, it really happened.

The end of this story wrapped it up so well for me. I won't spoil anything in case you don't already know what happens, but I'll say, that any questions I had were answered by the end.

Whether you are a skier, a hiker, a mountaineer, or just love a great story about human strength and endurance, you'll love this story.

9 people found this helpful

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Frightening, emotional & heart-warming true story!

I saw the movie and have never been able to get the story out of my mind. Touching the Void is a true story, a miracle of sorts--a mountaineer left for dead by his climbing partner and his incredible struggle to live. I have always wondered how this could have happened and more particularly, how Joe and Simon felt about what happened. Specifically, how did Joe Simpson feel about his climbing partner after the ordeal? How did Simon Yates react when he learned Joe was still alive when he abandoned him. You can't rely on a movie to tell the real story but you can rely on this book's narrative. It includes segments also by Joe's climbing partner, Simon Yates.

This is an incredible story, beautifully written and very moving. The narration was excellent and I highly recommend this book.

6 people found this helpful

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Captivating Story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Given to me by a climber friend. Awesome insight into that extreme sport.

Any additional comments?

Captivating story told in alternating first person. I want to see the documentary next.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Any additional comments?

For the non climbers, unfamiliar Mountaineering terminology can leave comprehension gaps in the audio version ( whereas easy to look up if reading ) but still a great story

2 people found this helpful

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Is he a climber who writes or a writer who climbed?

Beautifully done. I love this author’s way with words. There is a section about 3/4 of the way through (sorry I didn’t bookmark it but it’s near where he recites Shakespeare) where he speaks of the moraines and the malevolent, menacing mountain that gave me deep chills. I’ve been alone in the mountains many times and in physically demanding situations. His descriptions of the patterns you get into when you have to keep going are spot on. Although I thankfully have been through nothing even a fraction as arduous as Joe (I suppose I feel like we are almost friends now after hearing about his ordeal), I recognize many of the sentiments. While many in outdoorsy circles have read this book in the US, I don’t think it’s as widely known here as in Great Britain. Maybe we should make it part of US students’ required reading too - so much more relatable (not to mention enjoyable) than the Last of the Mohicans! If you’re thinking of reading this, stop thinking and do it. It’s not too long and not one word was wasted— my measure of great literature.

1 person found this helpful

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Better than the Movie

I first saw touching the void during physics class in high school of all places. I was immediately inspired by it and it’s stuck with me throughout the years (I’m 26 now).

When I was looking for audiobooks to listen to on my long runs during my marathon training, I was surprised and pleased to see this one pop up as a suggestion. I am so glad I decided to purchase it! It’s been the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far (admittedly I’ve only gotten in to audiobooks lately so it’s basically 1 out of 10, but still).

I got so in to the story and narration that I couldn’t stop listening long after my run and found myself lying in bed still listening at 1am because I couldn’t go to sleep without hearing how it ended even though I already knew from the film!

It threw me off the first time the narration switched because I wasn’t expecting it, but it actually made the story a lot easier to follow and made it easier to understand the psyche of Simon and Joe by having their perspectives read by different voices.

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Great survival piece but overanalytical

The story & set up of what really happened on that mountain were a great adventure to tell. Finding a way to drag yourself off a mountain after the catastrophic injury that befell Simpson is not only a great life metaphor but a shining inspiration for all readers. I enjoyed the set up of having the two climbers juxtaposed in the reading of the story, getting to view what was unfolding in different places at the same time.

The only drawback I would say this story has, and it is a natural one I suppose readers probably would raise if not looking at the situation of life & death on a mountain, is a bit of wallowing and overanalysis on whether Simpson's companion should have let him go the way he did after realizing the chances of both of them surviving following the injury were minimal. If you've read a minimum of survival stories or watched enough films, you know the slightest injury in such dangerous circumstances can lead to death very easily so it should be unstandable. But, I can see how many novices would react with shock at one human being deciding to let another die if in a similar situation so it's not much of a knock on the book.

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Simply a great book

loved the book. great eye opener on the human body and mind capabilities. highly recommended

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Never. Give. Up.

There are two intertwined threads here: the controversial circumstance and implications of the separation, and the return. The mind-bending tenacity involved in the journey itself is a brilliant standalone story, regardless of how or why it happened. Like any survival story worth its salt it's almost unbelievable. JS is not a professional writer, but it flows well enough. Just remember: Never. Give. Up.

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Excellent story

I was hooked after the first chapter. Told by both climbers, the story is thrilling.

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  • Blair Ferguson
  • 04-13-13

Fantastic listen/read

This book is one of the most inspiring books i have listened to and the naration is first class cant recomend it highly enough

4 people found this helpful

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  • SARA-MADGE WYNNE
  • 02-19-13

A harrowing listen that will keep you gripped

A truly amazing account of survival that will keep you listening to the end and stay with you long after.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Matthews
  • 06-10-15

Don't listen whilst driving!

Touching the Void had me hooked from chapter one. I often listened in my car which thinking about it was not so clever as there would be periods of excitement that knocked my concentration from driving!

It's a brilliant story that had me on the edge, made me squirm with thought and almost feel Joe Simpsons desperation.

A must read for anyone who likes real story's told truthfully by the person who experienced them.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lance Johnson
  • 04-08-12

Much for all of us to learn!

An excellent read and amazing journey of strength. The way the author survived, setting small goals, going step by step, despite the disabilities he suffered, is amazing, and a lesson for us all. Truly gives illustration of the saying "A million mile journey begins with the first step". There are many issues missed in the the film, that have been covered by the book. Including insights during the incident, what happened after the characters were reunited, and the participants reflection over what went wrong. Much of the lessons learnt can be applied to our own lives. A great listen!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jacqueline Albright
  • 07-08-20

loved this

wish audible had more of books, this game of ghosts for example, read by this narrator or joe himself

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  • Caroline Barnes
  • 03-23-20

Gripping true story

Breathtaking story of true courage and endurance Well written and easy to listen too.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-05-20

Fantastic!!

Thoroughly gripping from start to finish. A perfect example of overcoming adversity.

Highly recommend this audiobook even if you are not into mountaineering.

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  • Snowbound
  • 02-20-20

Awe inspiring

I read this a long time ago....and like Apollo 13 it is no less thrilling when you know the outcome. I listened until 1.30 am...and still feel a chill at the though that Joe only just made it back in time.

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  • Debjoelliott
  • 01-13-20

Incredible!

I Read this 20 years ago and couldn't put it down, and bought this for my son to listen to. I decided to listen myself. I was initially disappointed by the narrator's voice. He isn't as I imagined Joe would sound, nor Simon. The emotion isn't there. Nevertheless I stuck with it. You won't be disappointed.

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  • Donna London-Hill
  • 01-08-20

Gripping and emotive - compelling listening

Having been introduced to the world of climbing by my 18 year old son, I decided to download his book and wasn’t disappointed. The story is told in the most magnificent way and I have been humbled by the bravery shown by both Joe and Simon.

If you are unsure of whether this is for you, don’t be, it’s the most wonderful tale of brotherhood I have ever experienced and would wholeheartedly recommend the book. Thank you to Joe Simpson for sharing his story and for Simon Yates for ultimately saving his life so the story could be told.

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  • Stephanie
  • 07-03-20

Powerful story; the experience, the writing....

This is a mountaineering story about two friends who want to be the first to summit the West Face of the remote 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. It's so much more than that; it's a metaphor for life, and especially for business leaders. It's about being adaptive, intuition - the voices in our heads, friendship, decision making, preparation, planning, action taking, care-taking for yourself and for others, impacts (of all of the above), exploration and the importance of experimentation, importance of quality. Most of all it's a story about holistic agility; from the moment you have the idea to the very moment it is all done, being present from the moment you have the idea, through every increment and continuously adapting till the end. As a keen biography reader this is definitely in my top 3.

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  • Walker
  • 03-24-19

A really slow start

I actually gave up on this book for a while. It seemed to go now where. Though, without giving anything away, there is a critically point where that all changes. From then on I was almost hanging on every word.

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  • joz1963
  • 04-14-18

Brilliant

Made me laugh, made my cry, made me gasp, made my trip quicker. Loved it.

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  • tom
  • 08-23-17

true stories are often the best stories

i would listen to it for no reason other than it's true, but there definitely are more reasons than that. a captivating story of survival.

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  • Matthew
  • 06-26-17

Harrowing

A small taste of what it might be like to slowly die, alone and cold on the side a mountain

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-11-17

unputdownable

absolutely amazing story. gives so many struggles a dose of perspective. just so vivid and raw.