We saw "Touching the Void" the other night--an amazing documentary that describes how a young British climber survived a terrible ordeal that would have left most other people dead. Joe and his climbing buddy Simon went to Peru about fifteen years ago to scale a difficult mountain. They made it up but then on the way down Joe broke his leg badly right at the knee--incredibly painful. Simon did his best to help his friend down the mountain by lowering him down 75 feet at a time. Unfortunately Joe slipped off a cliff, was dangling there helpless and held up only by the rope connected to Simon. After an hour and a half with both of them in bad shape (a freezing blizzard was going on too), Simon decided to cut the rope or be pulled down himself.
But the story is just getting started. Joe falls into a crevasse, survives, crawls out and then down the mountain over the next three days with little water and no food. He loses a third of his body weight in the process. The documentary interviews both Joe and Simon and they give a very candid and eloquent description of what happened and what they were thinking. Joe's tenacity is inspiring. He's the Churchill of mountaineering.