On the fourth day the pair were stuck in a very bad situation. They had run out of food, there was a terrible snow storm and many miles from the nearest house. They were tied together by a rope but suddenly Simpson slipped and fell off the side of the mountain. Simpson could not climb up the rope, Yates could not pull him back up, and the cliff was too high for Simpson to be lowered down. They remained in this position in the powerful storm for some time, until it was obvious that the snow around Yates was about to give out. Because the pair were tied together, they would both be pulled to their deaths. Yates had little choice but to cut the rope.
When Yates cut the rope, Simpson plummeted down the cliff and into a deep crevasse. Exhausted and suffering from hypothermia, Yates dug himself a snow cave to wait out the storm. The next day, Yates carried on descending the mountain by himself. When he reached the crevasse he called for Simpson and hearing no reply, Yates was forced to assume that he had died and so continued down the mountain alone.
Simpson, however, was still alive. He had survived the 150-foot fall despite his broken leg, and had landed on a small ledge inside the crevasse. When Simpson regained consciousness,he realized that he had to save himself. Simpson spent three days without food and water, crawling and hopping the five miles back to their base camp. Exhausted and almost completely delirious he reached their tents only a few hours before Yates planned to return to civilization.
Simpson's survival is widely regarded by mountaineers as amongst the most amazing pieces of mountaineering lore. He did it by knowing his overall goal but focussing on each stone ahead of him and just getting to that one. When he reached that stone he would focus on the next one ahead of him and slowly but surely he got home.
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Submitted By: Ben Backwell