Joe Simpson interview: 'I'm not an easy person to be with' - Telegraph
Literature Unit 1: Touching The Void by Joe Simpson Joe, on the other hand, has always offered complete support for Simon's actions. . P68 Isolation/ Relationships/Survival; “In an instant an uncrossable gap had come between us and we. Touching the Void is a gripping memoir of one man's fight for and how relations with the climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, unravelled. We are asking our US readers to help us raise $1 million dollars by the new. Joe Simpson at his home near Sheffield Photo: CLARA MOLDEN pursuit of high-altitude climbing to form a permanent relationship? The myths about the abrasive author of Touching the Void vanish like vapour off Simon is always the guy who cut the rope and I am always the bloke who crawled home.
All I do is tell the story and everyone goes 'Bloody Nora! I don't use notes. When it's an interview like this where you explore bigger questions, more interesting aspects of it, I find it fascinating because it changes all the time. I don't think I'm manacled to it because I don't think of it in those terms.
I, by the same token, am the guy who fell off a mountain and crawled home.
The man who fell to earth - Telegraph
But there's a lot worse things to be famous for. It's not as if it's done us any harm. His nose has a botched-job look after it was half ripped off in another near-death experience inwhen he fell ft off a mountain in Nepal. Now, at 43, he is compact and whippet-like with barely an inch of blubber on him. He is not a big eater: Beer and roll-ups, which he smokes down to the butt, are another matter. We talk in a pub because Simpson likes a pint or three, to be precise. That's priceless, I tell him: We just seem to be standing in a howling draught, that's all.
You had to define existentialism, which nearly killed me. He had to take a year out. I had really bad concussion. Head injuries cause all sorts of screw-ups in the brain.
I've never been depressed before or since, but I got almost suicidal and ran away to the Alps. It's one of the grimmest books. My logic was, 'God, this is so awful, what they're doing, there must be something really good in this if they think this is worth enduring. But I did exactly the same thing.
His Irish Catholic mother died a few years ago. In her final letter to him she angrily accused him - the youngest of her five children - of selfishness. What you're doing is essentially very selfish but you can't be tied to your mother's apron strings for the rest of your life. You're doing the thing that you love. When she died I just thought, she could no longer witness the death of her son. He's in the departure lounge but he's here. I gave him a video of the film. He said it was emotional.
For him to say that is quite something. Has climbing prevented him from forming long-lasting relationships? But when I was younger I was thinking, I want to climb the world.
If I get into a long relationship, get married, have children, would I still do this? And so maybe I did consciously edge away from that. But it's not necessarily a logical jump to say that climbers don't have long-lasting relationships. In it Simpson mentions phoning someone he calls "my long-suffering partner" just before attempting the north face of the Eiger.
I don't have long-suffering partners. I think you've misread it. The person he phones he clearly names as Pat Lewis. We don't go out any more. She probably knows me better than anybody. I've had relationships that have lasted longer than some people's marriages. Is five years long enough for you?
Is nine years long enough for you? He is yoked to his own story until death does finally claim him hopefully not next summer on the Eiger: This complex, cussed modern Lazarus will never tire of taking the story to pieces and putting it together again. He has written a new epilogue to the latest edition of Touching the Void, telling of his return to Siula Grande. The next day Yates emerged from a snow hole after a tortured, restless night and descended the rest of the mountain. He could see the enormous crevasse that Simpson had fallen into and immediately assumed that he couldn't have survived the fall.
For some reason, he failed to walk over to the crevasse to look inside just to be sure. Instead he set off for base camp - leaving his friend for dead. The rest of the story tells how Simpson miraculously managed to escape from his icy tomb and then, in an incredible feat of determination, crawl with his broken leg for three days and nights to reach the base camp, arriving just hours before Yates and their companion Richard Hawking packed up and left for good.
After all he'd been through, the first thing Simpson did was to thank Yates for all that he'd done to get him down the mountain. As a story it has an almost mythological force. It also confronts you with a number of moral conundrums and comparisons.
Was Yates right to cut the rope? Why didn't he check to see if Simpson was dead?
Return to Siula Grande
Would I have survived if I had been in the same situation as Simpson? Or would I have just curled up and died? But it also presents us with some big themes: Ultimately it is - to use that trite but accurate Hollywood phrase - a story about "the triumph of the human spirit". Since it was published in two years after the events actually happenedthe film rights for Touching the Void had been owned or sought by myriad film producers.
Werner Herzog tried to get it, Frank Marshall, the director of Alive and producer of numerous Steven Spielberg films, wanted it The reason seemed obvious.
The book consists almost entirely of internal monologue - the two climbers barely speak throughout their ordeal, and during the crucial stages are in fact separate. How do you make an accessible film out of that?
My solution, of course, was to make it as a documentary - to throw out the book itself and go back to Simpson and Yates and the third incidental character, Hawking and get them to tell the story afresh.
I was worried that so long after the event - and having talked about them so often - they would tell the story in a dry, unspontaneous way. Only if the interviews work, would it be worth continuing with the film. These concerns turned out to be unfounded. The story was still very much a live issue for all three characters.
In some odd way they were all still in thrall to what had happened over a few days so long before. Whether they admitted it or not - and two of them didn't - in my opinion the events on Siula Grande continued to shape their lives. So the heart and skeleton of the film was already there. But what about the flesh?
The only option was a technique that sent shivers down my spine: In film, I believe things should either be documentary or drama. If there is a tendency in modern television I hate, it is the unstoppable march of the dramatic reconstruction to tell the stories of anything from an ancient Egyptian battle to the early life of Paul Gascoigne. That was my biggest fear: The answer we came up with was simple: Keep the documentary element the interviews straightforward and make the dramatic elements feel as real as possible, filming in a naturalistic style with good actors and no apologies.
Would audiences buy an actor playing Simpson if they had just seen the real person? Who would they empathise with? I really had no idea. The plan was to do all the wide shots in Peru, on the real location, and then return to the Alps to do the stunts and close up work with the actors.
Simpson and Yates were persuaded to accompany us partly so that they could show us where and how things had happened, and partly because, since we hadn't yet cast our actors, they seemed to be the best people to double for themselves. We were also interested to capture how they would react to returning to Siula Grande, given the associations it had for them. Yates was absolutely level-headed about it.
He had already been back to the area a few years previously, and insisted that this trip meant little or nothing to him psychologically.
Kevin Macdonald on filming Touching the Void | Film | The Guardian
Having seen how he reacted to the story in interview, however, I wasn't sure I believed him. Superficially, Simpson was much less confident about returning.
It was obvious from the moment we met him at the airport for the flight to Lima that he was genuinely nervous. He was wearing a T-shirt which read "The last one dead's a cissy", and swallowing beer after beer. As our plane approached Lima, an extraordinary thing happened: The sight filled us all with awe - all except Simpson, who merely said: I had sometimes wondered if Simpson had exaggerated his ordeal.
The diary - in which the whole story unfolds in its raw, unfiltered state - confirmed that every aspect of it was true. I was struck, however, by a couple of things. In the diary, Simpson and Yates come across not as the gnarly, hardened professionals of the book, but as young men sometimes out of their depth and often scared out of their wits.
It's exactly what you'd expect, of course - and made me understand them so much better. Another revelation made me laugh out loud: It ends with a very funny, honest account of a misjudged and unsuccessful sexual approach to them.
From Lima we travelled for 12 hours by bus to the town at the end of the road: Cajatambo, high in the foothills of the Andes, where we spent three days acclimatising. Simpson told me that the nearer we got to Siula Grande the more he began to be overwhelmed with an irrational notion.
His life, he said, had been blessed ever since he'd left Siula Grande; he'd made a name for himself as a writer and found happiness in his personal life, but now, coming back here, he was filled with an overwhelming dread that maybe, with the circle complete, his good fortune would disappear. The next day all our gear - cameras, clothes, costumes, food for a month - was divided into 20kg loads to be carried by 70 donkeys up to the base camp.
The only thing that couldn't be broken down into a donkey load was the electric generator. Instead, four short, wiry men - two of whom appeared to be the wrong side of 50 - set off carrying it suspended between wooden poles. Over the next few days I wheezed and huffed and puffed my way slowly along the mountain paths.