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Another compelling read from the world's pre-eminent mountaineering author - Joe Simpson

Dark Shadows Falling

By Joe Simpson

In 1992, a climber was left to die by other climbers on Mount Everest, which horrified Joe Simpson who was himself left for dead in Peru in 1985. In this book Simpson explores anecdotally and in heated debates with his climbing companions on Pumori, the moral climate of mountaineering in the 1990s.

ISBN: 9780099756118     

An excerpt from Dark Shadows Falling:

A bitter wind raked across the shattered rocks of Mount Everest's South Col, brushing gritty snow into the folds of a dying man's clothing. He lay on his back with his bare hands resting at his sides. Less than a ropes length away, in a huddle of tents, seven men slept in snug sleeping bags. The dying man
had lain outside for many hours, exposed to a withering wind.
His mind collapsed slowly as his body went through the motions of living. The system began closing down, rationalising away the luxuries of digits and limbs and non- vital organs, protecting the core until all that was left was the core. Viscous blood cooled in deadened limbs as his body temperature kept dropping by steady fractions of degrees. Limbs abandoned to save the core hardened like chicken thighs in a deep freeze; flesh became death-coloured, bluish grey to off-white, and solid. Chilled blood cannot return to cool the core. That was all he had become - a fragile core, an imperceptible pulse in lifeless flesh. It was a very long death.

A few metres short of eight thousand metres high, the South Col is a bleak strip of level ground suspended between the great summits of Everest and Lhotse. In places it is strewn with shattered rocks and bounded on each side by the vast icy drops down the Lhotse and Kangshung Faces. Over the

years it has become littered with the detritus of countless expeditions, remnants of torn tents, wind-fractured tent poles, abandoned empty oxygen bottles, here and there the frozen corpses of unsuccessful climbers. it is the site of the last camp climbers make before their attempt on the summit in a long day's climb up from the Col. . . . . . .

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