philosophic inquiry into life and meaning

...if truth were not for man the desire for truth would not be as a burning unrest in his heart...

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The closer you are to death the more you realize you are alive.This movie is about two mountain climbers who wanted to push themselves to the ultimate challenge -- to conquer a mountain that had not been conquered before, the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They face incredible danger and end up in a precarious situation where one climber must cut the rope on the other. He cuts the rope and believes his friend is dead but miraculously his friend survives by falling into a crevasse and climbing out of it on his stomach (because of a broken leg). This movie tells their story of life and death and climbing.


Movies like this really do alter you state of mind for a while. They can get you to see what survival really is and how vastly different that is to 'survival' in our modern society with its red tape, idiocracies, idiosyncrasies, and general all-around idiots running the show. If you're life were put on the line and hanging by a thread (or rope in this case), what would you do? Where would your thoughts center? On God? Life and Purpose? On how cold it is? These climbers were really in a bind. One had a broken leg and no where to go but rely on his climbing partner and friend who would lower him down the mountain. The other, the grim reality of their situation and either they both die or he must choose his own life (probably at the cost of the other). Wikipedia give a good account of their predicament:


They proceeded by tying two one hundred and fifty foot long ropes together and then tying themselves to each end. Yates dug himself into a hole in the snow and lowered Simpson down the mountain on the 300 feet of rope. However because the two ropes were tied together, the knot wouldn't go through the belay plates, so Simpson would have to stand on his good leg to give Yates enough slack to unclip the rope, and then thread the rope back through the lowering device, with the knot on the other side. A second disaster struck when Yates was lowering Simpson down the mountain, and lowered him off a cliff. He (Yates) was in a belay seat, much higher up the mountain, and Yates could not see or hear Simpson, but felt all his weight on the rope. Simpson could not climb up because of his broken leg, and Yates could not pull him back up as his belay seat was slowly crumbling up. Neither of them could do anything to save both of them.

Yates had two choices: stay in that same position and wait for the belay seat to break, which would probably have resulted in both their deaths, or he could cut the rope and then climb down to see where Simpson was. As Yates could not see Simpson, he had no idea whether he was hanging over a cliff or simply a few feet from the ground but unable to find secure footing. Yates decided that the only logical step was to cut the rope. Unfortunately, below Simpson at the bottom of the cliff was a deep crevasse, and knew he would fall into it. When Yates cut the rope, Simpson plummeted down the cliff and into the crevasse.

The next day, Yates carried on descending the mountain by himself. When he reached the crevasse he realised the situation that Simpson had been in, and what had happened when he cut the rope. After calling for Simpson, he had was forced to assume that he had died either from the fall or during the night and so continued down the mountain alone.

By some miracle, Simpson was alive and on a ledge inside the crevasse. He had survived a 100ft fall, with a broken leg. When he regained consciousness, he took in the rope, and discovered the end was cut, and he realised what Simon had done. He eventually abseiled from his landing spot on an ice bridge (which broke his fall and therefore presumably saved his life) to presumably the bottom of the crevasse, a thin ice roof, and crawled out back onto the glacier via a side opening.

From there, he spent three days without food and only splashes of water from melting ice, crawling and hopping five miles back to the base camp. Almost completely delusional, he reached the base camp a few hours before Yates intended to leave the camp to return to civilization.

Simpson's survival is widely regarded by mountaineers as amongst the most amazing pieces of mountaineering lore in history.


I think the appeal of these kind of survival movies and war movies in general is the simplicity of surviving against all odds and the question: "What if that were ME?" We're living in an insulated world were danger is non-existent or very far removed from our daily routines. Nothing is striking and boredom and escape from boredom are king. The truth is our death is very possibly as close as it was for these two mountaineers, yet we don't act from that perspective. The concerns of life get in the way and our lack of time is rarely revisited. If we truly consider how much time we do not have that may spur us on into some kind of action to really dedicate our life for something worthwhile, whatever that is to you. I highly recommend this movie as a motivator and catalyst for deeper meaning.