Monday, March 4, 2013

Relationships in the Death Zone

After three texts about large-scale climbing expeditions, which went into intimate detail about their fundraising and team selection and Sherpa interactions, it was interesting to get Simpson’s fundamentally different perspective as a climber without Sherpa assistance or much mass organization to speak of. This text approached a lot of familiar aspects of the climbing experience differently than the other texts, as he describes the climb much more technically and specifically than the other authors and focuses significantly more on his own experience- especially in his heart-wrenching final crawl—which makes sense, because retelling that climactic scene is really central purpose of the text. As provocative as that section was though, I think Simpson’s greatest success is how Touching The Void captures the complicated and nuanced relationship between Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates. As we first heard from Ann Bancroft, the relationship between adventuring partners can be more complex and hard to understand than a normal friendship, and this text presents an extreme example. At the beginning of the book Simpson describes Yates admiringly (page 19), but in several instances he expresses genuine anger and contempt for his partner. These episodes seem to cut deeper then “hey, stop showering me with ice pellets,” bordering on sincere feelings of dislike. These feelings take on a new seriousness when you’re relying on the other person to keep you from dying on a second-by-second basis, as they obviously were. In the end, their relationship faced a final test when Joe fell into the crevasse, and I think Simon’s handling of the situation showed the gravity of the situation and his devotion to Joe as a partner and friend. In that situation he seemed to hold onto hope for as long as he could be expected to before making an educated judgement of the situation. In extreme situations, it seems that everything, including your relationships are magnified to extreme proportions, and Simpson demonstrated that ably in this text.  

No comments:

Post a Comment