The finality of death and the possibility of death when mountaineering is something I have always had difficulty in coming to terms with and Touching The Void by Joe Simpson is certainly no exception. Right after the accident on the mountain when Joe severely damaged his knee, he stated, “if there’s just two of you a broken ankle could turn into a death sentence” (72). After Joe realized the extent of his injuries, he also stated, “[Simon] would leave me. He had no choice” (73). Even though he was still alive and with only one damaged knee, it seems, to a reader who has only read up to this point thus far, that the odds of his survival are slim to none and what is crazier is that Joe knows and accepts this. Although Joe is probably right, I simply cannot come to grips with the finality of this mentality and the thought that even his friend will not try to help him.
Other adventure stories we have read thus far have also demonstrated the stark and final attitude of both injured and non-injured climbers towards life threatening injuries. In one of the stories we read this semester, one of the mountaineers even went so far as to say that morality doesn’t exist beyond a certain altitude. These attitudes seem to throw a very black and white picture on the possibility of death and in essence seem to attempt to explain the lack of morality that exists in dangerous situations. Consequently, this black and white-ness of death in the mountains attitude really challenges the question, “why climb?”, for me because if you do get hurt climbing in risky situations, it is likely that the climb you just made was your last.