Dark Shadows Falling Joe Simpson
In 1992, an Indian climber was left to die high on the South Col of Mount Everest by other climbers who watched his feebly waving hand from their tent thirty yards away. He was even filmed in his last hours for a television feature. Why did the onlookers not hold the dying man's hand and comfort him? The answer appalls Joe Simpson, who was himself left for dead in a crevasse at the foot of Siula Grande in Peru in 1985 - 'because it might compromise their summit bid'. It is an ethical question that Joe is forced to confront as he climbs an extremely difficult new route on Pumori, with a clear view of the whole South Col from the vantage point where Eric Shipton first spotted the way up the south side of Everest taken by Hillary and Tenzing in 1953. Now that Everest has become the playground of the rich, where commercial operators offer guided tours to the top up fixed ropes, camping amidst the the detritus and unburied corpses of previous less fortunate climbers, Joe wonders if the noble, caring instincts that once characterised mountaineering have been irrevocably displaced - as in politics, in business, in the media and in other facets of society. On investigation, he finds it a less black and white issue than at first it seemed. 'Although I survived the Andes, I shall never forget the horror of dying alone', he says.