This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson is a remarkable book. I thought there could be nothing more gripping that his Touching the Void but I enjoyed reading this one equally if not more. If you have not read Touching the Void I would say you read it first. If you like reading about the mountains you would enjoy both his books.
This book starts in Peru after Joe survives his fall and sheer hell of an ordeal which is covered in Toughing the Void. But soon it moves to his childhood and what a cracker of a child he was! After reading that part I actually felt sorry for his mother and wondered how would I ever cope if my child would be as prone to getting injured.
Then the book moves to his early climbing experiences in UK and Alps. He struggles to complete his degree in Literature as he is running to the mountains at every opportunity. He falls on a climb and hangs on a mountain for 12 hours on another occasion before getting rescued. He still doesn’t gives up. Then Touching the Void Happens and it feels for a while that he will give up. And then he goes back to rock climbing and soon he is in Pakistan and then in Nepal. And then disaster strikes again.
Through the book he tries to make sense of the perennial question, why do people climb? And how to make sense of the deaths that happen on the mountains, death of friends, acquaintances and ace climbers. One particular passage stayed with me. He looks at the name of five people and says only Chris Bonnington remains alive!
Another very intriguing aspect was the involvement of the author with Greenpeace. He and his partner climbed chimneys, bridges and department stores to unfurl banners for the organization!
The book ends with an attempt to climb Pumori, the mountain you see in the picture above. His body after the accident refuses to cope so he decides to walk on crutches and says he could still go ahead of many trekkers even then! I can imagine myself as one of those trekkers!
Throughout the book his ability to retain a levelheadedness and his sense of humor are evident. A thoroughly enjoyable book, I would say. Go and read it for the love of the mountains!
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