In 1985 two young, fit, ambitious skilled climbers set off to climb the treacherous 21 000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes – the trip was a special one because any man or woman had not successfully conquered the mountain. Their climbing method was what some would call unique, and others might call crazy considering the challenge they were about to face. Their alpine-style approach meant that they moved very quickly up the mountain with the bare minimum supplies and no stops at base camps. This meant that the slightest mistake could have serious implication for their survival. On that day – Joe Simpson and Simon Yates made history when they successfully summitted Siula Grande! – however, their joy and excitement at being the first humans to conquer the mountain were short-lived as they were hit by tragedy on the way down as Joe tragically fell and hurt his leg. To make matters worse, they had found themselves in the middle of a storm. At such high altitude and with zero supplies, it was effectively a death sentence.  

`There was no margin for error – if you get hurt, you will probably die ` Joe Simpson later said. Both climbers severely dehydrated knew that if they didn’t start moving, they would get frostbite and hypothermia. Their only option to scale down the mountain was to tie their rope together and Simon lower Joe down. It was progressing successfully until Joe was accidentally dropped off a cliff and could no longer respond. – after holding on for one-hour Simon decided to cut the rope with a penknife and scaled-down the mountain to safety believing Joe to be dead. However, Joe survived and miraculously managed to crawl back to base camp four days later – shortly before Simon was going to pack up and leave. Back home, Simon was criticised for what he did that day – despite his decision, albeit it a controversial one, most probably saved both of their lives. An older story one which you may know `Hamlet` was in direct contrast to this. Hamlets indecision resulted in a Tarantino like an orgy of death at the end, and I doubt very much that Simon would have procrastinated if faced with the same decision. One can conclude that it is better to take action than create a world of indecision. 

The events of the trip have become somewhat of a legend. For me, the biggest lesson learnt is not about surviving all odds and human endurance; it is about taking action – more importantly, Imperfect Action. So many of us avoid making decisions through fear, creating a paralysis. – if we could all make that decision, even if it is a bad one because it when we stop making them that causes problems as Joe Simpson himself said you have to keep making decisions even if they are the wrong decisions – if you don’t make decisions you are stuffed.`

Joe Simpson

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