Chapter 2, Tempting Fate

The relationship of Joe and Simon in this chapter is very deferential and foolproof, both characters have a mutual understanding of what they want and need to accomplish to move on. The audience can create a characterization of either Joe or Simon. We can differentiate Joe to Simon in our own minds. Joe is self-critical, doubtful and unsure of his decision making, intense but also has a heart for adventure and danger. Quotes such as “I had forgotten to take them from Simon and had used my only screw down at the bottom. I did not know what to do, 120 feet up very steep ice. Go back down? I was scared of the unprotected drop beneath me, and of the idea of needing an ice screw for a belay if I couldn’t find any rock. I shouted again but there was no reply. Take a few breaths and get on with it!” Simon, on the other hand, is calm and collected, confident but is also alike joe in the way that he loves adventure and danger. I believe that both Joe and Simon need each other’s values and personality and that is why their climbing relationship is full of strength, why they work together so well when it comes to manipulating the situation. Joe’s doubtfulness or weariness works well with Simons come as it is, let’s do this attitude.

The environment was harsh and treacherous while climbing the west face of Suila Grande, the vertical icefield over 2000 feet while in search of the gully they wanted to follow, the impatience and the annoyance that this gully would not come kindly. The illusion that the icefield was not very high at all but during the tough climb it became grander than what was once thought. Throughout there climb there many dangers their route needing to be repeatedly changed to fit the climber’s needs. Cornices overhanging on the west face by forty feet “Suddenly the day seemed less casual and relaxed. I watched Simon’s progress, now agonizingly slow and hunched up, my hair bristling at the thought of a cornice collapse” passage of text from the second chapter ‘Tempting Fate’.

The audience receives a recount of Joe’s previous experience in a similar environment two years earlier on the Bonatti Pillar on the South-West side of Les Petits Drus. Ian Whittiker was Joe’s previous climbing partner for this expedition and both experienced a close call with death when settling down after climbing 12,000 feet, a long day after hard work. Without warning, disaster occurs. “I felt myself drop swiftly. Simotansioaly there was an ear-splitting roar and grinding,” recounts Joe. Luck was on their side, both Ian and Joe lived to tell the tale, but the fear of dropping into the abyss haunts the back of the mind. That traumatic experience will forever be with them after the frightful ominous silence, disorientation and the fear of being completely isolated without help in the world. Joe wrote ending his recount with a valuable passage of text giving the audience a rundown on what happened in the end. “Ian returned to the Alps the following summer, but hi desire to climb had been destroyed. He returned home vowing never to go to the Alps again. I was lucky, or stupid, and go over my dread – except when it came to bivouacs.”

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