In chapter 2 of “Touching the Void”, by Joe Simpson, the reader can be given an idea of the level of trust that Joe and Simon have between each other. This is shown through the events that occur when Joe and Simon are climbing, whilst also reflected through the stories that Joe talks about from past events. Joe and Simon being comfortable to climb together is a sign that they have a high level of trust and respect for each other. This is because the two of them are responsible for the other person’s life, in making sure that they make it up and down the mountain safely.
As the environment gets increasingly tougher, Joe recalls a past event of hardship after he and Simon have a near miss with falling rocks.
When Joe talks about this past experience towards the end of the chapter, the reader is given an understanding of what Joe has done when things go wrong. This is shown when Joe talks about an event two years prior to climbing Siula Grande. It happened when he was climbing with a different partner (Ian Whittaker) on the Bonatti Pillar on the South-West side of Les Petits Drus in the Alps. Joe seems to be looking back on the event with a certain level of fear and is presented to the reader in a highly specific manner. Joe illustrates this to the reader in the text when he sums up what happened “The experience of that long, long night, expecting to fall at any time, one minute laughing hysterically, then silence, always with stomachs clenched, petrified, waiting for something we did not wish to think about, will never be forgotten”. Joe also talks about the two different ways that he and Ian responded to the situation in contrast to each other. Joe said that Ian’s “desire to climb had been destroyed”, whereas Joe said that he got over his dread, saying that he was either lucky or stupid. The different reactions of the two men indicates that Joe and Ian have a different way of handling grief. To cope with the shock, Ian had to stop climbing to deal with the fright he had. Joe, on the other hand, found that getting back into climbing helped him better than quitting. This shows that Joe cannot easily be mentally broken. It can also be seen that Joe looks back on the event that occurred in the Alps with maturity by using it as a learning curb rather than letting it destroy him. The lesson he learned would have made him mentally stronger for climbing Siula Grande because he will have strategies on how to act if things go wrong, and will also be more aware on safety e.g. Joe checking that he and Simon are safely tied into the rope when climbing.