Remembering the high points of youth

Steve Bell at the Eiger summit in 1980
Steve Bell at the Eiger summit in 1980
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A former climber who founded a Sheffield tourism firm has recalled his youth by writing a new book.

Steve Bell set up Jagged Globe, in Kelham Island, more than 20 years ago, and since then it has grown to become one of the world’s leading mountaineering companies.

He has led expeditions to the highest points on all of the globe’s seven continents, an account of which, called Seven Summits, was published in five countries in four languages.

Now Steve’s thoughts have turned to his formative years. His new book, Virgin on Insanity, is a memoir of the 1970s and 80s - a time when he ‘sought manhood’ on mountainside escapades in Scotland, the Alps and Alaska.

Steve started climbing in 1975 aged 16. He notched up winter ascents of the Matterhorn and Eiger north faces before he was 21, and 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.

Steve launched Jagged Globe in 1995, but emigrated to Australia in 2004, and now lives near Melbourne. In 2009 he was diagnosed with a chronic back condition which affected his ability to climb.

“I love Australia but I do miss my friends and family,” said Steve.

“Sheffield is a very special place, for its close proximity to the Peak District, and of course its wonderful pubs!”

Steve is travelling back to the UK to give talks on Sunday at the Moon Inn, Stoney Middleton, and on Tuesday at the Outside Cafe, Hathersage. Both events start at 6.30pm for 7pm.

The new book, priced £20 and published by Sheffield-based imprint Vertebrate, is available from climbing shops and online at Amazon.