Been re-reading some books. The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson is one of my favourite books. Mountaineer Simpson, after twenty years on the mountains dodging death, decides it's time to pack it all in before fate catches up with him. The book is a memorial to friends lost to the mountains, to last climbs, and to The Eiger and the stunning achievements of those who struggled to put up a route on the formidable North Face in the "Golden Years" of Alpine mountaineering, in the 1930s. Simpson and Ray Delaney made their own attempt at the famous 1938 route up the face but retreated after the weather turned and a party climbing above them fell to their deaths.
This book fascinates me. Is it Simpson's fascination with the Eiger that infects me also? Maybe so. I mean, I've read Harrer's The White Spider, supposedly the last word in mountaineering and Eiger literature. But while it is a gripping tale of epic feats, I never read and re-read its passages in my mind for days after like I do with Simpson's book.
Joe Simpson is possibly best known by the general reading public for Touching the Void, the story of how he survived several days in the high Peruvian Andes, with a shattered knee and left for dead by his climbing companion, struggling out of a crevasse and across a glacier to make it back to their camp and to safety. It's a fabulous book and a truly gripping story. You really do wonder if he's going to make it out alive, somehow forgetting that of course he did otherwise you wouldn't be reading his account. But I like The Beckoning Silence more.
Go on, have a read.