This Game of Ghosts by Joe Simpson

by Mridula on February 16, 2013

in Books,Canon D550,Photography

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 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica February 22, 2013 at 12:37 am

Hi Mridula, very nice travelogue, enjoyed reading it. Thanks


Mridula February 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Thanks Monica the book I talked about indeed was engrossing.


umashankar February 19, 2013 at 7:54 am

That was an engrossing read. The books must be still lively. I’m going to pick up Joe Simpson one of these days. Great shot of the mountain.


Mridula February 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Thank you Umashankar. I hope you will enjoy the books.


Mridula February 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

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.


arumugameaswar February 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Sounds interesting. Will pick the book.


Sue Westmore February 17, 2013 at 12:18 am

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.


ladyfi February 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Majestic shot! I’m going to have to check both these books out.


Akhila S February 16, 2013 at 10:44 pm

wow! sounds very interesting Mridula. Adding it to my list :)


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