Virgin on Insanity
Coming of age on the world’s toughest mountains
- Steve Bell
- Hardback (256pp)
- 01 Jun 2016
Outwardly, 'Britain's most experienced teenage Alpinist' is a brave young mountaineer. But he's not experienced at all, at least not in the way he really wants to be. Behind his death defying climbs there lurks a great deal of fear - fear of the opposite sex, fear of failure, fear of not being 'man enough'.
He seeks manhood in the mountains, yet he believes he will only truly gain it by losing something. Harrowing escapades in Scotland, the Alps and Alaska are interspersed by excruciating sexual encounters and unsettling hitchhiking rides. When the mountains fail him, he seeks meaning with a religious cult in Colorado. Eventually he succeeds in his quest, only to find that he's lost more than he bargained for.
In this memoir of youth in the 1970s and '80s, the modern reader will learn there is nothing new about selfies, teenage insecurity or suicidal fanaticism. Told with eye watering honesty, Steve Bell's portrayal of what drove him to flirt with death on treacherous mountains takes us into virgin territory. On the well trodden heights of mountain writing, Virgin on Insanity breaks new ground.
Steve Bell started climbing in 1975 at the age of sixteen. He soon became one of Britain’s up-and-coming young mountaineers, notching up winter ascents of the Matterhorn and Eiger north faces before he was twenty-one, as well as numerous first ascents of rock climbs in the south-west of England.
He spent a season with the British Antarctic Survey and four years as a Royal Marines Officer, before co-founding Himalayan Kingdoms, a trekking and mountaineering company. He pioneered the concept of commercial high-altitude expeditions in the UK and in 1993 became the first Briton to guide clients to the summit of Mount Everest.
In 1995 he founded Jagged Globe, which is now one of the world’s leading mountaineering companies. With JG he has led expeditions to all of the coveted seven summits, the highest point on all seven continents. He edited the book, Seven Summits (Mitchell Beazley, 2000), which was published in five countries in four languages.
In 2004 Bell emigrated to Australia with his wife and three children. Divorced in 2009, he was diagnosed with a chronic back condition the same year. He is a writer, public speaker and entrepreneur, and lives near Melbourne with his wife, artist Rossy Reeves.
- Title: Virgin on Insanity
- Sub-title: Coming of age on the world’s toughest mountains
- Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
- ISBN: 978-1-910240-83-0
- Rights: Worldwide
- Publication: 1 June 2016
- Edition: First
- Author: Steve Bell
- Classification: Climbing and mountaineering (WSZG);Autobiography: sport (BGSA); United Kingdom: Great Britain (1DBK); Alps (1DFHA); Alaska (1KBBWK); Himalayas (1FKAH)
- Size: 234mm x 156mm
- Extent: 256 pages, black and white text with 2x 8pp colour plates
- Cover: Hardback
- Retail price: £20.00
Mark Glaister, UKClimbing.com