Virgin On Insanity – (Vertebrate Publishing, $45)
Profiled in Wild 127, (p.24), mountaineer Steve Bell’s passion and honesty shines through in every word he speaks and writes. It is this transparent inclination that had led him to create a truly entertaining and insightful autobiography.
The book, which has been endorsed by George Mallory II, is aptly described as a coming of age story. As such, it quickly hurtles through the earlier stages of Bell’s life before slowing into something of a blow-by-blow account of the discovery and development of his passion for mountain climbing. While the peaks of this adventure are generally found on the peaks of mountains, there’s plenty of interest to be found in the peripherals. Bell provides plenty of details regarding his time spent off the mountains as well as on, whether it be at parties meeting girls or the long days on the road.
The reader will be transported to a pre-internet era where alpine fame was still found in the pages of magazines, and you truly feel the young Bell’s awe whenever he meets one of his mountaineering heroes. Likewise, you also feel the bone-crunching pain of every spill he takes, or the biting cold that envelopes the adventurer as he bivvies in a harness, suspended in the European Alps.
For anyone with experience in mountaineering, Virgin On Insanity will remind you of the best of the highs and lows. For those looking to find an escape while locked away on a winter’s day, this masterful tale will whisk you far from your reading chair. It may even inspire your next trip to the mountains.