One of the things that has been a constant theme throughout our readings this semester is the debate over how much of a "team" each expedition is. What has constantly struck me for every book, with Into Thin Air as an exception, due to its commercial nature, is that climbers would enter such life threatening situations with people whom they are not entirely comfortable. While Joe Simpson doesn't give us too much background on his history with Simon Yates, he does mention that they have little, if any, experience climbing together. As a hiker I have never hiked with anyone who I did not know before. I cannot imagine making first ascents on dangerous peaks with a person whose skills I have never seen before and whom I have not practiced extensively with.
Having said all of this I don’t think that the lack of a previous connection affected Simon’s decision to cut the rope. Joe agrees that Simon made the right call and that there was simply no alternative. They could have been best friends but in the years since the disaster took place, neither has been able to identify a realistic solution to the situation they were in. I do, however, question both Joe and Simon’s decision to attempt a particularly dangerous first ascent with a climbing partner that it sounds like was selected purely out of convenience.