Touching the Void climber bombarded with abuse by school children
IT is a thrilling tale of courage and survival that ought to grip any school child. But Joe Simpson, a mountaineer whose book details an agonising crawl down a Peruvian mountain with a shattered leg has become embroiled in an unseemly row with pupils who abused him online.
The “vile” GCSE English students had been studying Joe Simpson’s text Touching the Void for their exams, and vented their frustrations on Twitter.
The book charts Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates's disasterous climb of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.The pair were roped together as they descended the mountain in bad weather when Yates was forced to cut his partner free in order to save himself, leaving Simpson, then aged 25, to fall 150 ft.
He abseiled off an ice ledge and crawled for four days without food or water over five miles through the ice and over rocks with a shattered tibia to reach base camp. He arrived delirious, exhausted and just hours before Yates was due to abandon their tents for civilisation.
But the story of the triumph of the human will to survive in the face of almost overwhelming adversity was lost on the teenagers.
They dubbed him a “crevasse w------”, condemned his work as “boring” and even claimed he would lead them to fail their exams.
The intrepid climber responded to the “horrid kiddie tweets” by telling them he had written the book to “p*** you off” and told them he hoped they would “seethe in bilious acid pus”.
The messages, sent in their dozens as students revised for their GCSEs, offer a wide range of criticisms from his “boring” exploits to his literary style.
One young lady wrote to him: “Your book is the reason my entire year will fail our English exam. Learn to write you illiterate fool!"
Another said: "Your book is s--- and you should feel bad. Three chapters of crawling didn't inspire me to write about your book in my exam. It was rather boring, really."
Another student said: “Hi Joe. I had an exam about your book. I failed because of you. You owe to me!”
Another international student told him: “I am a student who learn English. You are a stupid who fell down on the mountain. We are waiting you in Turkey”
Mr Simpson summed up the abuse in a tweet which read: "A lovely day of children writhing in their hellish hormonal middens...good night vile innocents may you all seethe in bilious acid pus.”
He told one student “adios stupido” and called the remained “illiterate saddos”.
Snapping, Mr Simpson wrote: “Ok bored of this now so I'll either stop twitter or block all school kids - shame on the good ones - but the loathesome s------- can sod off!"
Yates and Simpson appeared in the 2003 film adaptation of his book. Doctors said his leg injuries sustained on Siula Grande would leave him unable to climb, but he went on to make six unsuccessful attempts of the North Face of the Eiger.
Mr Simpson told the Guardian: "If I'm brutally frank about it, I really don't give a toss what people think about what they think I went through. Nobody has the first idea, really.
"The book and the film were as accurate as they could be and they don't come anywhere near describing what it was like.
“A bunch of spotty schoolkids who can't read and can't pass their exams, and who start calling me a 'crevasse w-----', I find really quite amusing actually."
He added: "I've never had children; I've made it specifically impossible to have children, and I'm being hassled by children. Maybe it serves me right."