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Mountaineer Joe Simpson Recounts His Sky High Success

14 February 2013

Mountaineer Joe Simpson Recounts His Sky High Success

Inspirational speaker, and Mountaineer Joe Simpson, known better to most as the author of the book ‘Touching the Void’, re-counts his last climb on the online Newspaper The Telegraph.

His footprints, which remain on the south west ridge of Mera Peak to this day, are a testament to the scale of the challenge. Joe Simpson commented in the travel section of The Telegraph “The footprints on this snow ridge are mine. Nobody had passed that way before and, in all likelihood, no one will again. They are the footsteps of my last climb and they evoke in me a turbulent swell of emotions”.

The south-west ridge of Mera Peak, which is located in the Sagarmatha region of the Nepalese Himalayas, is 6,476m.  Joe Simpson climbed alone, something he doesn’t normally look forward to doing. His friend Ray Delaney decided at the last minute not to attempt the climb, and who could blame him? Joe Simpson commented that “Ray felt the ice cliffs threatening the ridge were too dangerous”.

The evening before the climb Joe experienced all manner of emotions. At 50 years old, and with neck, back, knee and ankle injuries, his 25 years of climbing had taken a toll on his body and resulted in arthritis “This was going to be my last climb” he said.

Even then, doubts on whether he was doing the right thing and thoughts of walking away, certainly crossed his mind many times throughout the evening. Glancing at the south face of the mountain he could see the central pillar, where the late mountaineers Tat Tattersall and Mal Duf had climbed 27 years earlier, the only route climbed on the face so far “I thought of all the great days in the hills and I hoped the next day would be one of them”.

It certainly was for Joe Simpson, as two days later he sat on the summit enjoying the horizon of five 8,000m peaks, including the horizon Mount Everest, Lhotsu, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. It was an emotional moment of triumph, three days later he drunk a beer with his friend Ray. “I will always regret that we didn’t do that last climb together. I named the new route ‘in Memoriam for Mal and Tat. Great days all gone now”.

Joe Simpson is now a motivational speaker, inspiring many to face challenges head on as he did. For more information on Joe Simpson or to book a motivational speaker