The pair were stuck in a very bad situation. 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 for some time, until it was obvious that the snow around Yates' belay seat was about to give out. Because the pair were tied together, they would both be pulled to their deaths. Yates made the decision to cut the rope in order to save his own life. Ironically, doing so may very well have saved Simpson's life as well, as he would have died of exposure if he had been left to hang in the strong freezing wind for much longer. -Touching the Void
Cutting a rope to save oneself in the Peruvian Andes is rare. Cutting one’s losses in the course of a normal life is a much more common experience. The process involved in both is the same. You survey the situation. You evaluate the pros and cons. You make the decision in the context of the immediate because you can not know the full extent of the consequences once you’ve severed the line. You take a deep breath, pull back your arm, swing down and slice.
The last slash in my life was my divorce. Fifteen years of marriage incorporated significant time and finances invested in the relationship, various financial investments, sundry furniture and a start-up business. At the end, after the affair and in the legal process of divorce, I looked into the abyss and made the decision. No amount of haggling would make it worth it and hanging in the wind was killing me.
To date the ex-wife and I still own a property which we rent. Its value took a significant hit when the housing market blew up. The mortgage and the investment have been bleeding me dry for the last ten years. I am attempting to get approval for a loan modification; which is similar to being on belay with your enemy. The process is arduous and requires tenacity. The bank’s decision will determine my next step. Letting go of the investment may be the prudent move.
The decision to cut rope and save life flies in the face of all we hold to and all we’ve known. Nerve and sinew, mind and mindset are exposed, fully raw, in the face of the decision. Standing on the precipice the choice must be made. You can only hope that crevasse or Creator catch you when you fall.
Photo courtesy of Mahatma4711