I do like true stories, rather than watching movie after movie and speculating on whether or not anything in it could actually have happened in real life. One such movie that I recently watched is called Touching The Void
In the mid-80′s two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru; a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon and Joe set off to scale the mount in one long push over several days. The peak is reached, however on the descent Joe falls and breaks his leg. Despite what it means, the two continue with Simon letting Joe out on a rope for 300 meters, then descending to join him and so on. However when Joe goes out over an overhang with no way of climbing back up, Simon makes the decision to cut the rope. Joe falls into a crevasse and Simon, assuming him dead, continues back down. Joe however survives the fall and was lucky to hit a ledge in the crevasse. This is the story of how he got back down.
Yes, they made it to the top just fine. When they got to what they thought might be the highest peak, they even contemplated on whether or not to go further, because they could see a smaller, yet taller peak right above where they were standing. Without much deliberation, they decided to push on until they reached the very top of the mountain. During the descent is where the complication ensued. One partner ties one end of a rope around his waist with the other end tied around the other guy’s waist. And he starts lowering him down the mountain over the snow and ice. All this was happening during a white-out blizzard. Joe, the man being lowered down, ended up sliding down the side of the mountain, moving so far and so fast that his friend Simon couldn’t hear him screaming for him to stop lowering him down. Joe had broken his leg very badly. It was his shin bone had actually been shoved up through his knee bone. Just typing that out and picturing it in my head makes me cringe. Joe had slid so far, that his body was just hanging helplessly over a ledge on the mountain, so far away from his friend, that Simon couldn’t even hear him screaming. The windchill very low, you’re both out there ultimately freezing to death. Simon didn’t know how far Joe was off the ground or anything. It’s either cut the cord and save one of you or you’re both going to die, if Joe’s not dead already. He waited for at least an hour and a half in the freezing cold, thinking they were both going to die before he decided that he didn’t have a choice but to do something about it. So, Simon cut the cord.
His friend Joe fell into this deep crevice, almost two hundred feet below. There was no way Simon could’ve known how high up Joe was from the ground. He only knew that he had to do something, because you can’t hold on to that much weight for that long. Either you’re both going to fall, or you’re going to freeze to death while trying to keep stationary, whichever comes first.
Joe ended up at the bottom of a cave of ice and snow. He started pulling on the rope, thinking that it was actually going to get tight again with his friend Simon on the other end. He kept pulling and pulling until finally the other end of the rope fell inside the cave with him. He picked it up and realized that it had been cut. And his first thought was that he was glad, because it meant that Simon was still alive. So, there he is at the bottom of this cave, with a very badly broken leg, no food, no water, no one to help him get out of there. Meanwhile, Simon climbs back down the rest of the mountain so he can get back to base camp and get warm again so that he doesn’t die of hypothermia. He’d already gotten frost bite really bad from holding onto that rope with his hands for as long as he did.
That feeling of being very alone starts to set in for Joe. I don’t think they really sugar coated any of this for entertainment’s sake. In the movie, they cut from him down in the cave screaming, to back at the top, outside the cave, where you can hear absolutely nothing but the wind blowing. Not only are there no other humans anywhere near this place, there is no wildlife out there climbing this mountain, either. Once he gets out of the cave, he’s still got to climb down the mountain and back to the base camp. The shocking thing is, he actually did it. He crawled and crawled. For a little bit of the journey back, he was using something that looks like metal spike tool that they use to hook into the side of mountains, as a crutch. It’s only maybe a one to two feet long. Trying to lean on one of those things in a bed of rocks with a broken leg…I don’t know how he did it.
He ends up lying in the snow, in the dark, alone, and thinking that he was going to die. I’ve been in places where I felt completely alone, but I’ve never been in the place where I was all alone and thinking, “This is where I’m going to die.” He said that, out of nowhere, this song popped in his head.
And, I’d have to agree with Joe. That is quite an annoying song and I’d want to do just about anything I could to get that music out of my head for the rest of my life! He commented and said that he didn’t even like Boney M. But, he was able to push on a little bit further and get to a point to where he could scream and someone else could actually hear him. Their friend Richard is the one who finally heard him screaming and thought that there was no way that was Joe. To them, Joe was most definitely dead at that point. But, it was Joe. Richard and Simon both went outside the tent to see if they could hear more of the screaming to see where it was coming from.
As soon as they got to where Joe was, Simon dropped to his knees and put his arm around him, hugging him and trying to warm him up a bit, before they both picked him up and carried him back into the tent. The first thing that Joe said to Simon when they got him in the tent was that he would’ve done the same thing, had he been in Simon’s position back on that mountain. And, I think that’s important. If you’ve been in a situation where someone had to or maybe even accidentally did something harsh like that, and you were on the receiving end, it’s important to let them know right away that you hold no ill will towards them in any way. You don’t want them walking around thinking that you hate them, especially when you’re the best of friends. Simon did what he had to do, Joe understood that completely, and it was important to let Simon know that as soon as he was able to do so.
I remember Simon grabbing my shoulders and holding me. I remember that. That feeling of being held.
I thought of my friend, Cleta, at the end of this movie. If you don’t know Cleta, two things about her you should know: She loves music and she loves hugs and thinks they’re part of the lifeblood of civilization. And I think we can all appreciate how someone might feel when they receive a hug from another human being after being through, quite possibly, the hardest experience in their life, or how a piece of music (even music that you can’t even stand) can play a small role and be somewhat responsible for what saved a person’s life.