I have just watched the docudrama "Touching the void" for the umpteenth time. I am a climber and mountaineer and have a great deal of respect for Simon Yates and his efforts to save Joe Simpson and also for his decision to cut the rope supporting Joe Simpson. On my last viewing of the movie the blindingly obvious question occurred to me. Why did Joe Simpson not cut the rope himself?
He was in a hopeless situation. Suspended on an overhanging face in severe wind chill conditions, he had lost the ability to climb up the rope, Yates was in an unsustainable position and it was obvious to both parties that this was the case. One of the two had to make a decision. Yates hung on for as long as he could and then cut the rope.
Joe Simpson has never blamed Simon Yates for cutting the rope,
Simpson publicly defended Yates. He dedicated his book and the documentary to Yates, saying his climbing partner saved his life by staying with him on the mountain for so long. Simpson said he, too, would have cut the rope if their positions had been reversed.
but has he ever explained why he did not cut the rope himself?