Sunday, March 2, 2014
Reading Touching The Void has been a unique experience compared to the other books we have read thus far, even when compared to Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Herzog, Blum, Krakauer, and Norgay's stories have all been about the climb. Reaching the summit in these books was the end goal, and for the most part each book has lead to the moment at the summit, and what it meant afterward for the teams involved. Krakauer's book may be the outlier in this, but for him personally, the trip was about getting to the top. The horrible tragedy that happened on Everest was the focus of his book, but it was not his sole reason for writing it. Krakauer also wanted to purge the experience from his soul and criticize the way Everest has become commercialized. Thus, I do not believe that Into Thin Air was a survival story, not like Touching The Void. Simpson's story is one of pure survival, against extreme odds. The fact that only the first 60 pages of the book are devoted to the summit attempt, while the rest is about trying to get back to base camp suggest that climbing the mountain was not the "adventure" Simpson wanted to tell. Simpson's book is such a harrowing tale of survival in extreme circumstances that I believe it is the "truest" representation of an adventure novel we have read so far. Simpson's struggle to survive is clearly the most difficult and impressive feat we have read about, and because the majority of the book's focus is on him and him alone, there is a lot more at stake for the reader. I felt much more invested in Simpson than in any other person we have read about, and this book is enthralling to read. Therefore, I believe that Touching The Void is an extreme adventure narrative, much more so than even Into Thin Air.