Touching The Void Script - Dialogue Transcript

Voila! Finally, the Touching The Void script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the documentary movie.  This script is a transcript that was painstakingly transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of Touching The Void. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to drop me a line. You won't hurt my feelings. Honest.

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Touching The Void Script





We climbed 'cause it's fun.



And mainly it was fun.



That's all we ever did.



And we were fairly anarchic

and fairly irresponsible,



and we didn't give a damn about

anyone else or anything else,



and we just wanted to climb

the world. And it was fun.



It was just brilliant fun.



And every now and then it went

wildly wrong. And then it wasn't.



Got into Peru when I was    Simon   .



But we had done a lot

of climbing in the Alps.



To climb mountains that have not been

climbed before, or a new route at a mountain



is what my climbing life

had been moving towards.



A friend of us, who'd done an amazing

amount of climbing in South-America



had seen this face in the mid-  's.



I think he said it would

be a challenging day out.



It was the last big mountain

face in this range of mountains,



that hadn't been climbed.



There's a great unknown there.



What's so compelling is

stepping into that unknown.



It was an isolated spot, a  

- days walk from a road.



The mountains all around seemed very big,



compared to the mountains

I'd seen in the Alps.



We eventually reached a spot,

on the approach to Siula Grande.



You couldn't really take the

donkeys any further than this point.



I guess it would be  -  km from

the bottom of the mountains.



We knew Siula Grande was at

the back, but we didn't see it.



We'd met this lad called Richard Hawking

in Lima. He'd been travelling on his own.



And I think we said, "Why don't

you just join us on our trip?"



I think he said that he didn't

know anything about mountaineering.



I didn't really know

what pot of brew I was in.



or quite, what I was

letting myself in for.



We wanted Richard because

when we were on the mountain,



if he were at base camp he

could look after our kit.



I got to know Simon quite well.



I don't know whether it was

because of his personality,



or whether it was because he

was more forgiving towards me,



being a non-climber

in that environment.



But I found it very

hard to get to know Joe.



I was much more ambitious

about doing it than Simon was.



Siula Grande meant a lot.



We knew, a number of

expeditions had failed on it.



If no one had tried, it

wouldn't be quite the same.



It was the the fact that people had

tried and failed, so we knew it was hard.



And my feeling was, "Well, we'll

just do it. We're better than them."



Since the     s people

have been trying to climb



mountains in the great ranges

in what's called "Alpine style".



And essentially, Alpine style

means you pack a rucksack



full of all your clothing, your

food and your climbing equipment,



and you start off from a base camp

and you try and climb the mountain



you're gonna climb in a single push.



You don't fix the line of

ropes uphill beforehand,



you don't have a set of camps

that you stock and come down from.



That's the purest style and that's the style

that Joe and I had climbed Siula Grande.



It's a very committing way of climbing,

because you have no line of retreat.



If something goes wrong,

it can be very very serious.



There's no rescue, there's no helicopter

rescue and there's no other people.



There's no margin for error.



If you get badly hurt,

you'I probably die.



I hadn't seen it from this

angle, and it looked steep.



I sort of thought, you

know, "Christ, that's big".



Looks harder than I

thought and than I expected.



But I was excited.



Starting doing it was brilliant.



This is what we live for.



I love the actual movement of climbing.



When you're climbing well

it just feels brilliant.



It's like a combination

between ballet and gymnastics.



It's that mixture of power and grace.



For me, mountains are the most

beautiful places in the world.



When I go into these places I

feel an amazing sense of space,



an amazing sense of

freedom, when I get away



from all of the clutter

that we have in the world.



I think we surprised ourselves as

we got up the icefield about    m,



and got up to a point where the

ice is running through rock bands,



and you've got vertical cascades.



We started intricately

climbing through these.



The fact, that you are

tied to your partner,



means that you put an immense amount of

trust in someone else's skill and ability.



But at some point, you may be thinking,



"For god's sake, Simon, don't fall

here, for god's sake, don't fall here"



The rope can be something that rather

than save your life, could kill you.



If your mate falls off then all

this gear rips out, you're dead,



you're gonna go with him.



If you're gonna do that sort of climbing

at some point you're gonna have to rely



wholly on your partner.



I think we were very pleased

at the end of that first day.



We had done a lot of

climbing, good climbing.



And we were very confident at

that point that we should make it.



That altitude, you dehydrate enormously.



You have to drink a lot

of fluid,  -  liters a day.



And the only way you can

get it, is by melting snow.



Everything is so time-consuming.



To make a single brew at that

altitude takes a very long time,



You're perhaps looking at an hour

just to make a couple of cups.



For that reason, we perhaps didn't

brew up as much as we should have done



but we didn't have an awful lot

of spare gas with us, either.



There's not a lot of risk

in our lives normally now.



And to put an element of risk back

into it takes us out of the humdrum.



In that sense, it makes

you feel more alive.



I've never been that

high before, and it's



very very strenuous

to climb ice like that.



Not only is it technically difficult

and unstable and frightening,



but your heart is going like

crazy because of the altitude.



It would now go very cold indeed.



And we were up

    -    m, it was windy.



Then it started snowing, and it meant



that the whole face was pooring

with powdersnow avalanches.



The snow would actually stick

on the outside of your clothing.



It would then freeze on top of you,

like you're wearing a suit of armor.



The last section on the face



was about    m of the

most nightmarish climbing.



Completely unstable powder snow.



No anchors at any point.



It was physically very, very

tiring, full-body climbing really.



It took us the best part of   or

  hours to climb about    meters.



Carried on way after it got dark.



I was getting extremely cold,

'cause I was sitting still



while Simon was trying to climb.



I was getting near hypothermic.



You just knew that if you'd

just carried on, regardless,



it was gonna go tits up.



So we dug a snow cave.



In the morning, in good weather,



we actually saw what

we'd been trying to climb.



It was this undeering nightmare of



flutings of the finest powder

gouged out by snow falling down



meringues, and mushrooms, and

cornices all over the place.



We'd heard about these strange powder

snow conditions you get in the Andes,



and we've never seen it before.



I don't know the physics that explains why

powder snow can stay on such steep slopes.



In the Alps it would just slide off

if the slope was about    degrees.



It is some of the most precarious, unnerving

and dangerous climbing I've ever done.



We were actually scared, that

we would get to an impass,



where we couldn't climb any further up.



Because we knew we wouldn't

be able to get back down,



not what we've already climbed.



We were climbing ourselves into a trap.



And not only that, we could see this

    meter drop that was waiting for us.



And so it was with great

relief that by   :  



we got onto the north

ridge and on the west face.



And we vowed that we didn't want to

go near any of the flutings again.



We were pretty tired, by the

time we got onto the ridge,



I was knackered. And

I remember thinking,



"Oh sod it, we've done the face,"



"now I can't really be bothered

to go all the way up there"



And then we thought, "Hang

on, we've come all this way,"



"we might as well stand on the top"



I don't particularly like summits,

because   % of accidents happen on descent.



We decided before we even climbed the

face that we were going to come down



the north ridge of the

mountain, down to a cul



between the mountain Siula Grande

and another mountain called Yerupaja.



and then we'd be able to abseil

down the smaller section of the face.



Already the clouds were coming

in from the east. Big clouds.



We expected this ridge to

be quite straightforward,



quite an easy way to descend.



We were hoping, we would

be able to sort of walk.



And it turned out to be very difficult.



It was horrendous.



Vertical on the west side, with the

cornices overhanging the west side,



and on the east side steep

fleetings running down    m below us.



It was a shock. And

it was quite dangerous.



It all got a bit out of

control. That stage of things.



Half an hour to an hour after

leaving the summit, we were lost.



We were in the wild now,

we couldn't see anything.



Then we got like a little break

in the clouds and I saw the ridge,



so I started climbing back up to it.



I didn't know it was the side

of the ridge I was on, but



it was actually an enormous

cornice, an overhang of snow and ice,



and I was walking up over the top of it.



I was left hanging, looking

down, as all this snow and ice



then fell away from me, down the

west side of the Siula Grande.



I got back up on the ridge

and shouted then to Joe



that I'd found the

ridge, like that, I said,



"I found the ridge, Joe!"



We'd hoped to go down that day,



but by the time it got dark,

we were still very high.



Still at     m.



And that night, as we made

a brew, the gas ran out.



It was pretty obvious

the following morning



that we descended the

worst part of the ridge.



And I was pretty confident that we'd

get back down to the base camp that day.



I thought at that stage it was pretty

much in the bag I suppose, the whole climb.



I was ahead of Simon,



and suddenly there was this

vertical wall, bisecting the ridge.



I then get on my hands and knees, and

hammer both my axes into the ice at the top



and then lower myself off the ice cliff.



When you hammer the axe in, you listen

to the sound it makes. And you look at it.



Now I was hanging with both axes,

right. I took the hammer out, and



what I wanted to do is now

place it in the vertical wall.



And I swung, and the pick

went in, and it just made a...



just a strange sound.



And I thought, "Well, I'll take

it out, make a good placement."



So I just wanted to put bona... dead

solid axe placements in. All the way down.



And I was about to

swing at the ice again



The pain is... came

flooding down my thigh



and my knee was very, very very painful



The impact drove my lower leg

straight through my knee joint.



As the bone went into my tibia it

split the tibial plateau straight off



and carried on up.



Quite wild, the pain now. I

couldn't cope with it at first.



I just breathed on and it started to

go and I can remember looking across



to the west and seeing that we

were level with the summit of Rasac,



so I had a height gauge, where we were.



and I just thought, "fuck,

I can't have broken my leg",



"If I have broken my leg I'm dead."



And then the rope went slack.



I knew that meant that

Simon was coming towards me.



I couldn't feel any bone under anything.



I brought my hand down,

there's no blood on it,



and the pain had gone down a little bit.



And I thought, maybe I

was being a bit whacked,



I'd just torn a ligament or something.



I tried to stand on it



I felt all the bone go, all grating and

everything and I knew it was broken then.



The look that he gave

to me sticks in my mind



A look of shock and desperation

and a sort of terror.



Lots of things in a single look.



And he said, "Are you ok?"



I think it did occur to me to say,

"Yeah, I'm fine". That was stupid.



I think I said, "No,

I've broken my leg".



Immediately, just doom. I

thought "god, we're stuffed".



We're gonna be doing well if

either of us gets out of this now.



It did come into my mind, just thinking,



"If he slips off the side of the

mountain now, then I can just clear off,"



"and leave him and get myself down and

I don't have to have all the hassle,"



"of trying to deal with him and

with the situation we're in".



He gave me these painkillers which

were effectively headache tablets.



And he didn't really

talk about anything.



It was almost as if he...

He knew, what this meant.



He knew, and I knew, that he

was going to have to leave me.



He could have said something like

"I'm just going to get some help"



and I'd gone "right, yeah"



'Cause I knew there wasn't any help.



That'd been an easy

way for him to say it.



I didn't think we really seriously

thought that there was any choice



I couldn't put my finger on it, why

I thought something had happened.



And I started to think "Is one of

them dead, or are both of them dead?"



Even "If one of them is dead", not

"which one do I want to be dead", but



"if one comes back,

who do I want it to be?"



It's kind of, quite cold

to say it, but I guess



I would rather have it

would have been Simon.



I thought, "oh, he's not leaving"



I calmed down a bit and

managed to focus myself again



to think how I was going to

get him down the mountain.



We discussed, between us, what

we were going to have to do.



We thought, well, we got

  ropes that are   m long.



And if we tie them together we have a

   m rope with a knot in the middle of it.



So I tied to one end and

Simon tied to the other,



in theory he could lower me down    m.



To really get anchors to

lower him from that do matter,



what I did was cut a bucket in the

snow, sit in there and brace myself.



And I sort of lay down between his legs.



And Simon started lowering then.



I'd lower him one rope length,   m,



and then the knot would come

up between the two ropes.



Now the knot would not go

through the belay plates.



So he would stop me.



I would stand on my

left leg, my good leg,



so that I could get

the weight off the rope.



I gave him enough slack to

be able to unclip the rope



thread the rope back through the lowering

device, with the knot on the other side



clip it back to himself and

lower me the remaining   m.



He'd make himself reasonably secure,

and I down climbed to join him.



And we'd repeat the process again.



Simon was trying to lower me fast,



and it meant that my foot kept jabbing

in and jabbing in and bending the knee.



Excruciatingly painful.



I can remember feeling angry with

him because he was hurting me,



and I was thinking "do it slow",



and I also knew that he had to do

it this fast. He hadn't got a choice.



And he was very grim faced,

I remember looking at him,



wondering if he was pissed

off with the whole thing.



I couldn't take too much notice

unfortunately of these cries of pain,



because we got to go down.



We would dig these holes from

the sitting in the powder snow,



and they would last about the length

of the time it took to lower me.



And in fact they were

crumbling around him.



And he was lowering me on a  mm,

well  . mm rope. That's that thick.



But hands sort of frozen.



What he did was quite extraordinary,



and I've never heard of any single

handed mountain rescue like that.



We were now lowering in a full storm. I

don't know what the wind chill factor was,



but it would be like -  

or something like that.



I lost a liter of blood in my leg,

I was in shock and severly dehydrated



It was a point where we should have

dug a snow cave and taken shelter,



got in our sleeping bags and

made a hot brew, and rehydrate.



We couldn't, 'cause we'd run out of gas.



And we just lost control at this point

because we couldn't dig a snow cave,



and risk getting trapped by

a storm that didn't break.



It was all starting to look up in many ways

at that point, as we were virtually down.



And I started to slowly think,



"maybe after this one we will have

one more, and we'll be on the glacier".



And suddenly all got hard

on my elbows, and icy,



and it got steeper, going down a

slope and suddenly it's steeper,



and I just was full of alarm.



I was screaming at Simon to stop as loud

as I could, and he just couldn't hear me.



I did notice that more

weight came onto the rope,



but didn't really think a lot

about this. And I just thought,



"Well, he's going over

some steeper ground"



When I looked down, and I glimpsed

'cause there was a big drop underneath me,



I was horrified to

discover what I'd gone over.



And I could clearly see that there was

a large crevice directly under the cliff,



about   m below me.



I was trying to get my axes to see if I

could reach this wall that was out there,



I think, almost as I start and try to

do that, I started being lowered again.



And I was thinking, "Christ,

don't do it, don't do it",



'cause I knew, that there wasn't

enough rope to get me to the bottom.



And if I couldn't get

my weight off the rope,



he couldn't disconnect the

rope, to get on the other side.



And I knew all this, and I was

screaming again, not to lower me.



I carried on lowering him, until I

reached the knot, then shook the rope.



My signal to him, to take

the weight off the rope.



And nothing happened.



And nothing continued to happen.



I knew, that the only way out of

this is if I could climb up the rope.



I had two prusik loops. Prusik

loops are thin cords of rope.



And if you use a special twisting knot

on the rope, you can slide it up the rope,



and pull on it, and

the knot grips the rope.



Clip a snapping to it and then a

sling to it, and you can stand up.



And if you got another one, tied

above it, you slide that one up,



Standing this loop is now higher.



I was trying to hold myself

upright, to keep the rope in place.



And then trying to put this knot

through itself, and through itself,



and this fiddly bloody rope... it is just

hard to describe how I couldn't do it.



Because my fingers, I just

couldn't feel the fingers at all.



And I'd be looking and trying to

push the thing in, and using my teeth,



and getting it round,

and getting it round.



My hands were cold, my feet

were... I was very very cold.



It was a desperate position, made worse

by the fact that that I had no idea



what Joe was doing, or

what position he was in.



I just couldn't figure out why it was taking

him so long to get his weight off the rope,



there was no sensible

explanation for it.



I got one on, and I clipped it to my

chest, because that would keep me upright.



And I tried to put the other one on,

and I had real trouble with my hands.



And I dropped the bloody

thing, and I watched it fall.



And I knew that I was stuffed then.



I just thought, "Well,

I can't climb the rope",



this idea that you can climb a

rope hand over hand, you can't,



especially when your hands are

frozen. You just can't do it.



Nothing I can do, and I

felt completely helpless.



And really angry.



There was nothing I could do. I

couldn't get the weight off the rope,



I was just there, and this went

on for maybe an hour and a half,



during which time my position

became more and more desperate.



I was struggling to maintain the,

sort of shivery seat that I sat in,



and the snow was gradually

sliding away from under me.



So my position was getting desperate.



I think psychologically I was beaten.



'Cause there was nothing I could do,



so I just hung on the

rope and waited to die.



And I think I would have died pretty soon,

actually. The wind chill was very low.



I was literally going down the

mountain in little, jerky stages.



'Cause this soft, sugary snow

collapsed away underneath me.



I was expecting him to come off,

and couldn't do anything about it.



He was gonna fall about    m.



  m away from me, he was gonna

fall double that, he was gonna die.



And he really didn't know, whether I was

meters off the ground, or centimeters,



he just didn't know. But he knew, I

think, pretty sadly, that he was gonna die.



Then I remembered that I've got a

pen knife in the top of my rucksack.



I took the decision pretty quickly.



To me, it just seemed like the right

thing to do under the circumstances.



Because there was no way that

I could maintain where I was,



sooner or later, I was going

to be pulled from the mountain.



I took the rucksack off, and then

unzipped the top pocket with one hand,



and got the pen knife out.






It was an awful night.



My mind was plagued with the

thoughts of what had happened to Joe.



It took a long time to warm myself

up. And I didn't properly, I guess.



Had a very, very cold night.



The overriding memory is just feeling

desperately, desperately thirsty.



To the point where I felt I could

smell the water in the snow around me.



I felt that very strongly.



It was quite a strange thing.



I didn't know what had happened.



What I landed on wasn't flat,

it was sloped on each side.



And I was sliding, in the dark.



I think I must have

fallen about   m in total.



I was pretty surprised to be alive.



The head torch beam just

went down, and down, and down,



and the darkness just ate it, just gone.



I felt very unnerved,

very very vulnerable.



If I had landed less than

 m further to the right,



I would have just gone

down this huge hole.



I got this ice screw in, pretty quickly.



And then looked around, and thinking,



"Jezus, it's gonna be nearly

impossible to get out of"



My rope was going all the way up,

  m, up to this small entry hall.



And I thought, Simon

is on the end of that.



But I felt sure he was dead.

And it didn't mean anything.



I just thought, "If I pull on this

rope, it will come tight on his body".



Because he would have flown off the

cliff, on to the downside of the crevice,



and then, Iying dead

there, like a counterweight,



the rope would have come back up

and then dropped into the crevice.



So I thought, if I pull on this

rope it will come tight on his body".



And it just kept coming,

and coming, and coming,



As soon as I saw it,

I knew it had been cut.



I thought, "you're gonna die in here".



I had a pleased feeling, that

it meant that Simon was alive.






Looking where I was

was an awful prospect.



You don't die of a broken leg.



I think I did turn my head

torch off to save the batteries.



It was dark, and it began to get to me.



There is something about crevices,



they have a dread feel, not

the place for the living.



I could hear the ice cracking,

and wind noises in the ice.



I turned the light on again,

'cause I didn't like it in the dark.



I felt very, very alone.



And I was very scared.



I was    I was fit,

I was super ambitious.



And this was the first trip I've

been on. I wanted to climb the world,



and it just didn't seem... this

hadn't been part of our game plan.



It must have been quite late.



I think that I pretty much was

thinking that I wasn't gonna get out.



Fuck. Stupid, stupid...



As a climber you should always be in

control, you have to be in control.



So doing that, you could be seen

as half a failure. You lost it.



This is childish. I

just cried and cried.



I thought,



I'd be tougher than that.



It was getting light, as it was   or  .



And I started screaming

Simon's name again.



I got myself up, got dressed inside the

snow home and packed everything away,



Just a horrible feeling of dread.



By this stage, I strongly felt that

Joe had been killed the previous day.



And that now I was going to

die, as some form of retribution.



But rather than just sit here,

feeling sorry for myself or whatever,



"I'll get on with it and

I'll die on the way down".



Very quickly, the ground

dropped away steeply.



So I skirted around this

area of steeper ground.



As I abseiled down, I could

see this overhanging ice cliff,



which was what I had lowered him over,



so I knew that he'd had

actually been hanging in space,



which is the reason he couldn't

get his weight off the rope.



And as I went down lower,

I could see to my horror,



that the base of this ice cliff

was an absolutely enormous crevice,



that's   m wide and just bottomless

from where I was looking at it.






He would have been up with

first light, I thought.



'Cause I was desperately,

desperately thirsty.



And he would have been. And he would

have wanted to get down, and get water.



And he would have wanted to find me.



Now I did stop and pause, and I

shouted across into the crevice,



and I yelled and yelled, "Joe, Joe".



And I suppose again, with

the benefit of hindsight,



after I got off the rope, I

should have gone and looked,



into the crevice, to see where he was.



But to be quite honest, the thought

didn't occur to me at that time.



I was just convinced he was dead.



Absolutely convinced, by    totally

convinced, that I was on my own.



That no one was coming to get me.



I was brought up as a devout Catholic.



I had long since

stopped believing in God.



I always wondered, if things really hit

the fan, whether I would, under pressure,



turn around and say a few Hail

Mary's, and say "get me out of here".



It never once occurred to me.



It meant that I really don't believe.



And I really do think that when you die,

you die. That's it, there's no afterlife.



There's nothing.



And I was thinking, "Could

I climb out of here?"



   meter of overhanging ice. No way,

I couldn't do it with a good leg.



I knew that they were both dead. But I

couldn't just clear off and leave the camp.



For one thing, I didn't

know anything about them,



except for their first

names, Joe and Simon.



I didn't know their family names,

I really knew nothing about them.



And I had this bizarre idea, that

if they'd fallen off the mountain,



they would have just

landed at the bottom of it.



And I thought, perhaps from the bottom

of the glacier, I'd be able to see them.



And set off with the aim

of going as far as I could.



I started to go down

the glacier on my own.



In this stage I was still certain

that I was gonna die myself.



Crossing a glacier is very

very dangerous on your own,



because there are crevices in

the ice, and the snow covers them.



Fortunately I managed to find

a faint outline of our tracks,



from when we walked in.



It was only when I got off the glacier,

I realized that I was going to get down,



I was going to get out of it,



I was gonna live.



I can't really describe how

scary the night had been.



I thought, it would

be like that, for days.



You gotta make decisions, you

gotta keep making decisions,



even if they're wrong decisions.



If you don't make

decisions you're stuffed.



Short of dying on the

ledge, my only chance was to



lower myself deeper into the crevice.



I didn't what I would find down there.



I was just hoping there might be some

way out of the labyrinth of ice and snow.



And I really struggled to make that

decision, I was so scared of going deeper.



The other option was

to just to sit there,



blindly hoping that

somehow it might get better,



and I just knew it wasn't

going to get better.



I didn't want to look down,



I was horrified at the thought

that it was just empty down there.



I didn't put a knot

near the end of the rope,



and if there was nothing down there

I wouldn't be able to hold the rope,



and then I would fall,

and it would be quick.



And I thought "Jesus, this is big!"



By this stage I was

completely physically done in,



staggering back down these

meringues, still desperately thirsty.



There werre all these sort of

thoughts swirling around in my mind,



guilt, worry, thinking about how on earth

am I going to explain this to Joe's parents,



my friends, to Richard.



The thought did cross my mind that

maybe I could think up a decent story,



that would make me look better.



And I did quite think about

that, for quite a while.



Really the only image that sticks

in my mind from all the time in Peru,



is seeing this figure.



And it was fairly close

before I could see who it was.



But he looked absolutely horrendous.



You wouldn't recognize him.



And I said, "Where is Joe?"



And he just said, "Joe is dead".



I told him the whole story,

as we walked back to the camp,



I told him the whole

story of what had happened.



He wasn't in the slightest bit

judgemental about me or what I'd done,



he took it very well.



I must have lowered myself about   m from

where the ice screw was at the bridge.



I was now in what seemed to

be the base of the crevice,



that was shaped like a big hourglass.



To the ceiling, was probably about   m.



I think it's as big as the

St. Paul's dome in scale.



I remember looking down, and

there was just solid snow.



And I thought, "this is

the bottom of the crevice!"



About   m away from me,

there was a slope leading up.



Right at the top, there was the

sun coming through this hole.



And it was shining, just this

big beam of sunlight coming in.



This was the way out

I'd been looking for!



I remember thinking, "Whoo, I can climb that

slope, I bloody well will climb that slope!"



I crawled across this flat floor, and

I started crawling across on my stomach.



Then I heard things

breaking away underneath me.



I realized that this wasn't a solid floor,

it seemed to be hollow underneath it.



I was absolutely horrified.



It was suddenly, as if

I was on an egg shell.



If I break through, I'll never be

able to get across to this slope,



and that was my way out.



Alright, I'm on it, this is solid now.



I started to get my axe in and hop up.



That is extremely painful, as your legs

hopped up, they both came down together.



I was trying to get into a better

position, so that my left foot ain't first.



But I inevitably went

onto my broken leg.



I feel the displacement

go, the bone move,



so every hop I nearly faint.



It was just excruciatingly painful.



And it was a bright sunny day.



Wow, the whole world has come back.



I was Iying on the snow, just laughing.



That was the relief of

getting out that place.



And I then looked at the

glacier and I thought,



"Well, you haven't even started, mate".



It's kilometers and kilometers

and on really bad ground.



But I think I was contemplating just

sitting there, because I was coming at this,



having done the most

serious climb in my life.



You come down safe from a climb like

that, you'd be exhausted for days.



You'd just eat and drink and sleep.



I'd just come out of that, I'd badly

broken a leg, I was in great pain,



highly dehydrated, I had no food, and

I was looking at trying to do that.



Just no way, just no way

you're physically gonna do that.



And then it occurred to me that

I should set definite targets.



I started to look at things and think,



"right, if I can get to that

crevice over there in    minutes",



"that's what I'm gonna do".



If I got there in    minutes I

was hysterically happy about it,



and if I'd gotten    or    minutes, I

was upset almost to the point of tears,



and it became obsessive.



I don't know why I did it, I think I knew

the big picture of what had happened to me,



and what I had to do was so

big I couldn't deal with it.



I stayed on Simon's tracks, and

they were weaving around over humps,



and past obvious crevices and stuff.



I thought, "Well, unless I come to a

hole with his body in the bottom of it,"



"these tracks will lead me

through the minefield of crevices".



All these huge mountains

around you, big mountain walls.



And they do make you

feel small and vulnerable.



And you wonder whether there's

some malign presence out to get you.



It was like somebody

was just teasing an ant,



and putting something

in its way all the time,



and eventually gonna stand on it.



I could see Simon's

tracks were filling in.



They were my lifeline off the glacier.



And I started to get very desperate.



I carried on crawling in the dark, a stupid

thing to do on the slope of the glacier.



But I was frightened and I was

just trying to see Simon's tracks.



In the morning, it was a bright,

sunny day, all the tracks had gone.



I started quite early,



and every now and then I had to stand

up on one leg to try see the way,



and then sit down again, and shuffle on.



There was one very horrendous

crevice bit right near the edge,



and I got into a maze of them.



I suddenly came to a point where I could

see ice running down, then I could see rocks.



It was probably me, who brought

up the subject of leaving.



Partly 'cause I was worried about Simon.



I just felt it was best to get as far away

as possible from where it had happened.



I didn't want to leave immediately,



I felt I needed a day or two

just to collect my thoughts,



and to regain some strength.



Spend a long time washing myself.



That felt good, to wash my hair and

to wash my face, to have a shave, to...



get the...



get the remnants, the

mountain out of my system.



I was desperately thirsty, because it

doesn't matter how much snow you eat,



you just can't get enough

water into your system.



And I saw the rocks, I knew how big these

boulders would be and how far it was,



and that was the first time

that I really thought about,



whether I could get the distance.



I got rid of all my gear.



I knew that I couldn't crawl over these

rocks, they were just too big and jumbled,



and that the only way to

do it was to try and hop.



I knew I was gonna fall a lot.



I'd fallen virtually every hop,



and it's just like having your leg

broken about every time, and I remember



looking back where I'd come

from, it was just over   m,



and it had taken me ages. And

the pain, just of the   +m...



I can be insanely stubborn.



And I do like to have things my way.



And things were seriously not

going my way over these days.



I'd look at a rock and then I'd go,

"Right, I get there in    minutes".



Once I decided I was going to

get that distance in    minutes,



I bloody well was gonna do it.



And it would help me, because I'd

get halfway through the distance,



and I'd be in such pain,



I just couldn't bear the thought

of getting up and falling on again,



but I'd look at the target and

think "I've got to get there".



And I'd think, when I was

Iying a bit long, and I think,



"no, you gotta get there. You only got

   minutes left, only    minutes left!"



It seemed like there was a very cold,

pragmatic part of me that was saying,



"You have to do this, this and

this, if you're gonna get there".



"Come on, keep moving, keep moving"



"Right, get up, and do it again"



It was quite insistent, and quite clear.



It was almost like a voice or a separate

part of me, telling me to do something.



Very uncaring. No sympathy,



no acknowledgement of the fact

that I might be tired or hurt.



It was very, very odd.



That part of me kept saying, "Keep

moving, stop resting, keep moving",



and the other part of me, my

mind, anyway, just was, "Alright.",



looking around and absorbing things.



And as the hours went, and

certainly as the days started to go,



it became weirder and weirder.



So I was very, very, very

thirsty. Very dehydrated.



And the agonizing thing is, all

these boulders, these meringues,



are on top of the glacier. And

you could hear water running.



All the time.



I'd fall over a lot and I'd hear water and

I'd start digging around searching for it.



Couldn't find it, couldn't get it.



And it was driving me mad,

to be able to hear water.



I was worried about Simon.



About his health, 'cause his fingertips

were still quite bad from frostbite.



And I just felt it wasn't

a place to be lingering in.



We just started getting

ready to leave in the morning.



I did eventually collapse amidst the

rocks, and I didn't sleep very well.



My leg was very painful. It was agony.



It was the first night, I

think, it hadn't stormed.



It didn't snow on me, and it didn't

rain. And I could see the stars.



I can remember Iying on my back for

what seemed endless periods of time,



staring at the stars.



At one point I had this weird sensation

that I had been lain there, conscious,



for centuries, for lifetimes.



Becoming part of the rocks, and part

of where I was never gonna move from.



The sun came up, and

it started to warm me.



And I thought it'd be just so nice to

just lie there, don't move, and never hurt,



and christ, I got so,

so close to doing that.



I genuinely believed that I

wouldn't make the distance,



and I also believed

that I was going to die,



and I sort of acknowledged it

in a very matter-of-fact way.



And it seemed very rational

to keep on crawling,



if you didn't think it

was gonna be of any good.



I think that it was that loneliness,

that sense of being abandoned.



It was there all the time.



I didn't crawl, because

I thought I would survive,



I think I wanted to be

with somebody when I died.



Probably just a symbolic act to

say goodbye to him, in my own mind,



by doing that.



I drank liters and liters of it.



And it was just like putting fuel in,



I could feel myself immediately

just getting stronger.



I kept wetting myself.



And I can remember actually quite

liking the sensation, the warmth of it.



It was just a slow, steady reduction.



Not just physically.

Physically is very obvious,



but you, everything, yourself.



I felt left with nothing.



And I didn't care anymore.



Didn't have any dignity, you didn't care

whether you're brave or weak or anything.



You just became almost

nothing. It was strange.



I was still doing these test   

minutes things, get here, get there.



And then I saw these footprints.



Then I got convinced, that

it was Simon and Richard.



They were up above me, and

they were just following on,



and I carried on crawling down,



utterly convinced that they

were wandering along behind me.



And I can remember thinking, "that is

really stupid, they would come and help you",



and I think I persuaded myself

that they were just following on,



because they didn't want to embarass me

'cause I peed myself and I was crying.



I don't know how long it

lasted, maybe about an hour.



I totally believed it, and then

suddenly it was like popping a bubble.



And then I realized that they weren't

there, and I felt utterly shattered.



It was about   o'clock

when I reached the lake.



And I that at the far end of

it, there was a meringue dam.



And from the top of that meringue dam,



I would be able to look down into

the valley where the base camp was.



In fact, I would be

able to see the tents.



This was the first time I thought it,



I thought, "I'm gonna make the distance,

I can actually make the distance".



Almost as soon I thought it, the next

thought that popped into my head was,



"Will there be anyone there?"



I thought, "Christ, this is the

fourth day since I saw Simon",



and as I worked it out, I thought,

"Why on earth would they be there?"



I knew it got dark at six, and thought

"I got to get there, I got to get there",



and I was trying to do

it as fast as possible.



The rest of that afternoon,



I was plagued by this dreadful

feeling that they would have gone.



I hadn't paid attention to what

was happening with the weather.



Between leaving at four and getting

to the top of the meringues, about six,



the weather had changed.



So when I looked down at the

valley, it was just full of clouds.



I listened intently, hoping to hear a

whistle or an answer, a cry back, something,



and I didn't hear anything at all.



and I spend a long time, sat

there, crying, not sure what to do.



I thought about getting

in my sleeping bag.



For some reason it just seemed a

bit of a pathetic way to end things,



just in a sleeping bag.



I thought, "Well, nice but just keep

going, you'll end it down there, somewhere".



I don't know entirely what

happened for the rest of that night.



I stopped looking at the watch, and

everything just started to go apart.



And I think I just got lost.



And I didn't know what

I was doing anymore.



I don't remember thinking of anyone,



anybody I loved or any of that.



I did have one time, when I got

a song going through my head.



And it was by a band called Boney M.



And I don't really like Boney M's music.



Brown girl in the ring,



there's a brown girl in the ring,



brown girl in the ring,



she looks like a sugar in a plum,



plum, plum!



Show me your motion,



come on show me your motion,



show me your motion,



And it just went on and

on and on, for hours.



I found it very upsetting, 'cause I

wanted to try and get it out of my head.



And I wanted to think of other things.



I was thinking, "Bloody hell,

I'm gonna die to Boney M".



I remember sometimes not waking up,



I think I was awake all the time,

but coming to, it was like waking up,



and sort of find myself sitting there,



I didn't know where I was.



It was pitch black and snowing, and

I'd think I was back on the glacier,



or I'd think I was in a public car

park, and had been beaten up again,



and then I'd just drift off again.



I remember smelling something.



It was a really strong smell.



And it acted like a smelling salt,

to cut through all this delerium.



And I remember being really confused,

I couldn't understand what it meant.



It took me ages to to try

and work out what it meant.



I thought it was me.



And very slowly, I worked

it out, and I thought,



"I've crawled through the

latrine area of our camp site".



And I realized then, that

I was close to the tents.



As I was shouting it, I thought, "This

is it, this is as far as this game goes".



I'm not capable of going any further.



I made the mistake of having a little

bit of hope, that they'd still be there.



And when I shouted,

and they weren't there,



I sort of knew I was dead then.



That moment, when no

one answered the call,



it was... I lost something.



I lost me.



I woke up, not knowing why.



And was aware of this

kind of strange atmosphere,



I could hear the wind

howling outside the tent.



And started hearing something.



It did slowly dawn on me,



that really the only thing it could be,



would be Joe outside shouting.



But that was completely

impossible, because he was dead,



and he died   or   days ago.



And then head it again, much sharper,



and it really sounded like

somebody shouting. Simon.



I can have gotten into a panic,

but first, it couldn't be Joe,



because Joe's dead.



And then, if he is out there,

it's gonna be this horrible thing,



it can't be a human being, because,



no human being can possibly go

through that, and be outside the tent.



I was just kind of Iying there,

really not knowing what to do.



And then Simon woke up.



"Simon!", it was quite

clearly a shout of my name.



I knew it was Joe actually,

I knew immediately.



I was looking around, and then

I saw this thing, floating.



Of course Simon exploded into action.



Suddenly I heard voices.



Is that you?



I was holding back, because I didn't

feel that was a human being out there.



And we went back up the stream, right

from where these cries had come from,



about maybe   -   m outside

the camp, and there was Joe.



I couldn't completely believe

it, until I actually saw him,



but then it was still a little

difficult to believe that,



because of the eerie night

and the state he was in.



Absolutely awful state.



It was almost like he was

a sort of ghost-like figure.



It was like I had to sort of pinch

myself almost to believe this was true,



that this was really happening.



Help me!

- Oh fuck, Joe!






he was swearing a lot. Swearing a lot.



Richard, lift him!



Richard, hold him, you

stupid bastard! Lift him!



I remember Simon grabbing my shoulders,



and holding me.



I remember that.



That feeling of being held.



He thanked me for trying to

get him down the mountain,



for all that I'd done up to the point,



where I cut the rope,



and he said to me, "I'd

have done the same".



Those were the first

words he uttered to me.



And I remember, before we'd done anything

to him, before we'd even close the door,



he said, "Where are my trousers?"



We had to explain, that we burned his

trousers, which made him quite angry.



And I think that kind of brought

me back into life, to some extend.



realizing it was the

same old Joe, back again.


Special help by SergeiK