Chapter 1, Beneath the Mountain Lakes

  1. “The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible” Quotation from the book Touching the Void by Joe Simpson when he describes mountaineers at the beginning of the book, this can impact how the audience will expect throughout the rest of the book, this passage of text gives us a hint that there is a possibility of an example of that “dreamers of the day are dangerous men” where the risk of death or injury becomes even greater. This line of text can mean different things to the audience but to me, it means the ambition or ego of a mountaineer that can lead to hasty decisions being made, either achievable or not. The line “for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible” creates the image of a strong, independent character willing to give it a try no matter the consequences it could lead to, this describes the character personality of Simon, the climbing companion of Joe, an example of this is is when Joe and Simon were discussing the weather patterns on the mountains, Joe is sceptical to go climbing because the fear of avalanches due to potential snowfall at a higher altitude but Simon is eager to venture out even with the potential risk of harm even more daunting then before. The opposite to this is someone who dreams of achieving incredible things but never acts upon it, avoiding unnecessary decisions that have certain risks to them. This describes the character Richard, a man accompanying both Joe and Simon but not there to endure tough, and the dangerous climb of Cerro Sarapo.

  2. The initial impression of Joe Simpson the audience receives from the opening pages of the book is that he is an adrenaline junky but also someone who can feel the safety of any surroundings, a person that can be at peace and feel comfortable with the idea to sit down and think, without the hassle of someone else. The first chapter ‘Beneath The Mountain Lakes’ opens up with the Mountaineers in the tent where Simpson describes the sense of location completely disappears with the ‘safety’ of the tent. How the character feels a sense of “homely affection for the warm security of the tent.” as quoted in the book. Joe is appreciating the simple life, using the bare minimum and without the luxury of a sheltered house with the comfort of a bed, not missing the hustle and bustle of a life where you’re with people at all times. “Life seems far simpler and more real here. It’s easy to let events and emotions flow past without stopping to look”

  3. Joe describes Simon halfway through chapter 1, Joe’s climbing companion on their expedition to climb Cerro Sarapo, Joe value’s Simon as a climbing companion but also a friend an example of this is “He was an easy friend: dependable, sincere, ready to see life as a joke…and that touch of madness that makes just a few people so special.” Although the first chapter Joe express how much he values Simon while climbing the west face of Siula Grande, he says that he was worried because of the fact that “whether there would be a marked difference between us.” but was grateful when both himself and Richard had very similar climbing paces. “If a climber has to slow his natural pace to that of his companion the unfit climber will soon find himself struggling to keep up. I could imagine the frustrations and tensions that would arise from such a situation.” expresses Joe. This allows me as the audience to respect and cherish this character because in a situation like climbing up an intimidating mountain you need someone with a positive attitude, able to make logical decisions quickly and take the lead in any situation. Without this type of character, fear can consume you, doubts and worry swells and builds up in you, and the risk of a mental breakdown can be fatal when climbing a 6.1 thousand meter mountain.

  4. Joe describes the character Richard, a man accompanying both Joe and Simon but not there to endure the tough and treacherous climb that Simon and Joe are aiming to achieve. When Joe starts to describe Richard he writes that Richard “Usually traveled alone to see where chance encounters in alien countries would take him” This gives the audience a clear idea that Richard loves traveling, not to see the wonders of the world as such but to travel to these remote countries to ‘escape the western culture’ and to dig deeper into a faraway land of happiness, appreciation, and difficulties that you very rarely see in a western culture. How Joe described Richard I was able to perceive that he is a lonely man, no one to love and cherish, nothing to look after and nothing to go home to, someone left in the world to wander, and journey to find a new place to call home. “He traveled the world between bouts of hard work to raise funds” quoted by Joe supports this idea and initial characterisation of Richard.

  5. “We were in the middle of the Cordillera Huayhuash, in the Peruvian
    The Andes, separated from the nearest village by twenty-eight miles of rough walking.” quotation from the first chapter ‘Beneath the Mountain lakes” The distance between them and the nearest village is a great deal of climbing if something was ought to happen, being high up in the mountains with the likelihood of an avalanche could be disastrous. The cries and screams for help will never be heard unless luck is in your favour. The human body can only last a certain amount of time in harsh conditions before it begins to shut down and death is even more daunting than it was previously and hyperthermia becomes your greatest enemy.

  6. When facing difficulties, Joe has a tensity to talk to himself as a calming mechanism an example of this is “We can do it…we can do it… I kept repeating like a mantra whenever I felt that hollow hungry gap in my stomach.” This can help mountaineers as it is psyching the Mind & Body up, succeeding becomes the sole focus and determination becomes an even strong emotion. This gives, in this case, Joe a higher sense of belief in himself when rocky situations occur.

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