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Joe Simpson: Courageous Mountaineer - Part 1

Posted by Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel on Sep 15, 2018 7:25:00 AM



This article is about a Young climber who is faced with some horrible situations, to say the very least, during one of his expeditions in Peru. Because of the length, it has been divided into a two-part series which we hope you will much enjoy. Let’s dive in.

The Malaysian native was born August 9th, 1960 in Kuala Lumpur, although you would notice his British accent if you were to encounter him in person. His passion for rock climbing began when his teacher introduced him to the sport at an early age. In 1985, his climbing career began alongside Simon Yates. They ascended the previously unclimbed West Face of the Siula Grande, part of the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes. It would be one of many dangerous rock climbing adventures, but the most memorable. Years later, and after books and films have been made following the events of that trip, it continues to be something that Simpson states as tying him to the past.

1. Full circle.

Simpson was only 14 when he read the book The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. It told about the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger; made by Harrer, Anderl Heckmair, Fritz Kasparek, and Ludwig Vörg in 1938. It was this book that inspired his love for mountaineering. I find it a bit romantic that Simpson’s story is further tied to the Eiger. This mythological mountain has claimed more than 60 lives to date, a couple of which were Simpson’s climbing partners. In 2000, while on the same expedition, the two men were swept away in a storm, in Simpson ’s presence.

Video by Michael Elcock

2. The ascent to heaven.

The journey was planned to last only a few days. Yates 21 and Simpson 25, were two motivated, healthy young men who were full of hope to conquer the mountain. It promised to be nothing short of a heroic feat if accomplished. Neither had experienced anything similar before but had decided on pursuing their goal.

3. On the way down.

On the descent from Siula Grande, Simpson shattered his right leg. His partner struggled for hours trying to save him, with no success. After 12 long hours, Yates, seeing there was no other choice, cut the rope separating the two friends and climbing partners. At this point, it is important to point out that Yates believed Simpson to be dead because of the fall. Simpson had been dangling over an enormous void roughly the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral for half of a day. While to an average person these might seem like shocking events, the life of a climber is accustomed to death, as years would prove later on. The risk is something you deal with every step of the way in climbing, and every climber knows the risks coming in.

Make sure to join us in a couple of weeks for the second part of this article about survival and never giving up.

There are other treks in Huaraz that you can take and if  you would like to join any of the Contact us

Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel

Topics: Travel & Adventure, trekking in Peru

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