Joe Simpson (mountaineer)
Simpson was born on 13 August 1960 in Kuala Lumpur, Federation of Malaysia, where his father was stationed with the British Army. From the age of 8, Simpson travelled between schools in Britain and various countries where his father was stationed. Simpson began rock climbing after being introduced to the sport by a teacher at Ampleforth College. He was 14 when he read The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer about the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger by Harrer with Anderl Heckmair, Fritz Kasparek, and Ludwig Vörg in 1938. Despite the inherent dangers of mountaineering described in the book, this reading sparked a passion for the mountains in the young man.
In 1985, Simpson and climbing partner Simon Yates made a first-ascent of the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes. On the descent, Simpson broke his leg and during the subsequent self-rescue in a storm, the two became separated. The climb was nearly fatal for both climbers and upon returning to Britain, Yates received some criticism for cutting the rope due to a misleading article in a national newspaper. Simpson published an article in the climbing press shortly afterwards, and later wrote Touching the Void.
Simpson underwent numerous surgical operations as a result of the leg injuries sustained on Siula Grande. The doctors told him he would never climb again and he would have trouble walking for the rest of his life. After 2 years of rehabilitation, he was back on the mountains.
A bad fall broke his left ankle while climbing with Mal Duff in 1991 on Pachermo in Nepal, and is described in Simpson's third book This Game of Ghosts.
His later non-fiction books describe other expeditions and his changing feeling towards extreme mountaineering brought on by the many deaths that surround the pursuit. One of his books, The Beckoning Silence, was made into a documentary shown on Channel 4 in October 2007. The book won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award (Outdoor Literature category).
Simpson has begun another career as a motivational speaker, addressing corporate events throughout the world.
Simpson's most recent book is the novel The Sound of Gravity.
Joe Simpson is one of the six people mentioned in the song "Ali in the Jungle" ("Like Simpson on the mountain"), by The Hours as an example of someone who overcame hardship and beat the odds to make a comeback.
Except as noted, all works are non-fiction.
- Touching the Void (Jonathan Cape) 1988
- The Water People (fiction) (Jonathan Cape) 1992
- This Game of Ghosts (Jonathan Cape) 1993
- Storms of Silence (Jonathan Cape) 1996
- Dark Shadows Falling (Jonathan Cape) 1997
- The Beckoning Silence (Jonathan Cape) 2002
- The Sound of Gravity (fiction) (Jonathan Cape) 2011
- [dead link]
- "Desert Island Discs - Castaway : Joe Simpson". BBC. 2004-09-19. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- This Game of Ghosts, p. 27.
- Joe Simpson Times Educational Supplement, 27 May 2005. Accessed 18 March 2012.
- Simon Yates Geographical, March 2006. Accessed 18 March 2012.
- "Out on a limb" High, Issue 35, October 1985.
- Simpson, Joe (22 October 2007). "Joe Simpson: My Journey Back into the Void". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Joe Simpson: My journey back into the void". London: The Daily Telegraph. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- Escaping the Void Trail, January 2012.