This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson

By Mridula Dwivedi February 16, 2013 9 Comments , ,

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!

Pumori, Nepal

Pumori, Nepal

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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9 thoughts on “This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson”

  1. I bought & avidly read This Game of Ghosts last week having devoured Touching The Void about 8 or 9 years ago. It goes a long way towards explaining why people climb & keep returning to the mountains to someone like me who is definitely not a mountaineer. I love the style of Joe’s writing – in places, it was laugh out loud whilst in others very sobering to learn the rate of attrition in his circle of friends & just what an unforgiving environment they climb in. Thoroughly recommend.

  2. Akhila, Ladyfi and Arum you all will enjoy them I am sure of that.

    Sue I agree with you I am also not a climber by any stretch though I do like to trek.

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Travel Tales from India & Abroad

I am Mridula Dwivedi and I started blogging on 'Travel Tales from India' in June 2005. I renamed it Travel Tales from India & Abroad in 2016. Within a few months of the launch my travel blog found a mention on both the BBC and The Guardian. I also featured in a National Geographic Skoda Yeti Video. I was recently featured on

I quit my job as a professor in May 2015. I am having a blast ever since. I do not miss my work but sometime I do miss my salary! Somewhere along the journey I ended up acquiring a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur! I now wonder why?

You can write to me at mridulablog at gmail dot com For advertising queries please check out my advertising page.

Logo image credit Shutterstock.

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