“Touching the void,” by Joe Simpson
Chapter 2 – Tempting Fate
- Joe and Simon’s relationship heavily revolves around interdependence especially when they’re climbing together. From Joe’s perspective we can understand that he regards Simon as the leader and decision maker when the two of them are together. This relates back to Joe’s seemingly insecure nature and the fact that he regards Simon as, in a sense, superior to him. Multiple times in the chapter we can see that Simon has had more experience in the mountains and is more capable when in the cold and dangerous environments compared to Joe. An example showing this is at the beginning of the chapter when Simon offers to climb ahead of Joe, as Joe is suffering from heat cramps, something Simon is seemingly accustomed to.
“”I’ll go first, shall I?” Simon said, knowing he had me at a disadvantage.”
This line involving a rhetorical question from Simon, gives insight into how Simon’s experience exceeds Joe’s and how Joe relies on him because of this.
Simon’s dependence on Joe revolves more around having a climbing partner rather than having someone to lead the way. Throughout the chapter, Joe refers to passing Simon gear, food etc. Despite Simon having more experience, he still relies on Joe for his skills as a climber to be able to get to the top of the mountains they traverse.
Overall, the two men rely on one another, maybe one more than the other, for help and for company.
- The environment Joe and Simon are facing during “Tempting Fate,” in some places, challenge the abilities and present the men with dangerous situations which they have to overcome. Because the areas of the mountain they climb involve loose rock and somewhat unstable icefaces, the men rely heavily on each other to communicate and make one another aware of potential dangers up ahead. Individually, the mountain demands that the men be very conscious of their surroundings to stay safe whilst climbing the treacherous terrain and making it to the summit.
- Toward the end of the chapter, Joe talks about his previous experiences in difficult mountaineering conditions. Joe discusses being in a near death situation, almost having fallen after the section of protruding rock he and his partner were sleeping on fell away, leaving them hanging from a rope by their armpits for twelve hours until their rescue. This section of the text is important, because it, not only reveals a potential reason for Joe’s unsure and insecure nature, but also because it may be foreshadowing future events.