Best Climbing Books

50 Best Climbing Books Of All Time

What if you could embark on an adventurous climbing journey fill with the dangers, excitement, and near-death experience associates with the sport all from the comfort of your home without moving a limb? Or what if you’re seeking valuable tips, techniques, knowledge, and experience to improve your climbing skills both physically and mentally but do not know where to begin in search of this knowledge?

All this is possible by traveling through the pages of some of the best climbing books of all time that we’ve compiled for you.

These books will fill your curiosity about climbing as well educate you on different techniques of the sport.

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Best Climbing Books

So be it for entertaining or self-knowledge reason you’re seeking to read climbing books, the list below of the best-rated climbing books of all time will fulfill your desires.

1. The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers by Arno Ilgner

This is the ideal book to train climbers mentally. In the many covers of climbing literature, mental training is rarely covered, yet being mentally prepared is as important as learning climbing techniques, strength, and flexibility.

During climbing, your thoughts can drastically affect your performance. Rock Warrior’s Way teaches how to stay focus and maintain a positive disposition during a challenging climb.

It provides a step-by-step guide regarding motivation, risk assessment, mental focus, and transitioning into action.

A climber who isn’t mentally focused or prepared in a climb surrenders to anxiety and fear, resulting in poor performance.

Rock Warrior’s Way will not only help you overcome performance anxiety but also teach you how to use your love for climbing as a motivating force to improve your climbing performance.

The Rock Warrior’s Way is a mental training guide every climber must read.

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2. Olympic Mountains: A Climbing Guide 4th Edition by Olympic Mountain Rescue

Olympic Mountain was authored by Olympic Mountain Rescue, a group of volunteers devoted to saving lives through search, rescue, and awareness of mountain safety education.

The 4th edition of Olympic Mountain banks on OMR experience and knowledge of several climbers reveals rock climbing challenges and features great bouldering locations. 

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3. Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner

“Espresso Lessons” focuses on the practical and actionable aspect of climbing in a short yet powerful punch.

It is a follow-up to the Rock Warrior’s Way that teaches how to apply the concept of mental fitness in his first climbing book in specific climbing situations.

It gives insight into assessing and taking on risks, coping with the certainty of falling, and generally developing a strong mind as you approach climbing.

It would be advisable to read The Rock Warrior’s Way first before Espresso Lessons to gain a thorough understanding of the knowledge hidden in both books. The same author wrote both climbing books.

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4. Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing by Don McGrath and Jeff Elison

This is another mental training climbing book guide that stresses the importance of the mind when unlocking your potential as an athlete to the fullest.

It gives steps and guides that will help climbers break free from fears and anxiety, and stating several research in brain science, will retrain your brain to help improve your climbing performance at higher levels.

The book is also helpful in giving guides to teach a partner to be good at rock climbing.

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5. Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill

Climbing Free is an autobiography of Lynn Hill in which she tells the story of her childhood, climbing life, and historical free ascent of The Nose on El Captain in 1994.

What makes “Climbing Free” endearing to readers and one of the best climbing books is that it is devoid of pretension, unlike several autobiography climbing books that appear egotistical.

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6. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

World-famous free soloist Alex Honnold takes a depth, introspective look at his seven greatest climbs in “Alone on the Wall,” and co-writer David Roberts known for understanding Honnold’s epic feat, did not fail to give life to the book with the details of the reels of Hannold climbing adventures.

Maintaining laser-like focus, risk and reward are among the many topics explore in the book. “Alone on the Wall” is sure to leave you inspired and chasing your climbing dreams.

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7. Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers by Chris Noble

Women Who Dare centers on the intriguing personal stories, struggles, success of several strong-willed female climbers, from Sasha DiGuilian to the legendary Lynn Hill in their climbing endeavors.

It also teaches practical advice to climbing and life in general, reminding readers they can overcome challenges in the face of their dreams and find fulfillment in what they do.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female; women Who Dare will lift your spirit and strength that bond of love you share with climbing.

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8. Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills by Multiple authors

Freedom of the Hills is considered the bible book of rock climbing. Having been in print for over fifty years and written by several authors, the book is a timeless classic that breaks down complex topics on rock climbing in diagrams.

It covers subjects on the fundamentals of outdoor, ropework, emergency response, and a whole lot more. Without a doubt, this is a must-read for every climber.

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9. Self-Rescue by David Fasulo

Self-Rescue teaches readers all that is to know as regards safety and self-reliance in climbing. This is important and a must-read for climbers, be it aspiring, or experts as this is a topic that is rarely taught in climbing.

Readers will learn self-rescue, anchor, and belay system concepts, hitches, knots, and techniques in rappelling down a multi-pitch route with an injured climber.

This book remains the definitive resource on the topic of self-rescue in climbing.

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10. One Move Too Many: How to Understand the Injuries and Overuse Syndromes of Rock Climbing by Thomas Hochholzer and Volket Schoffl

This climbing book teaches readers everything concerning treating climbing injuries and also the prevention of such injuries.

With the aid of science and sports medicine, the author of One Move Too Many provides readers detailed guide to help them understand the sport of climbing and its effect on our bodies.

Muscle development, overuse symptoms, rehabilitation, basic anatomy are some of the topics explore in the book.

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11. Basic Rockcraft by Royal Robbins

Basic Rockcraft isn’t exactly a book on climbing techniques, but rather it tells an important piece on the history of rock climbing.

This makes it worthy of joining our list. Readers are exposed to the rudimentary of rock climbing. It is the ideal climbing book to read if you’re new to rock climbing; however, it doesn’t matter, for even if you climb 5.15, you still will find Basic Rockcraft intriguing for its charm and glimpse into the early age of rock climbing.

It is filled with a solid foundation of climbing knowledge.

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12. Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs by John Long

This climbing book also focuses on rock climbing history and the early days of the sport through humorous stories. Useful technical information and valuable insight drawn from the golden age of climbing especially told in story form, make this worth reading.

The tales in the book have been written in such style it gives readers the feel as though they are sitting around a fire enjoying the tales from John Long over a warm cup of ales.

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13. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer gives a terrific yet fascinating account of the Mt. Everest disaster of May 1996, which resulted in the loss of eight in Into Thin Air.

Krakauer gives readers a fair perspective of the people involved and detailed interactions and events leading to the unforgettable tragedy.

He also humbly states some controversial issues that might have resulted in the disastrous expeditions with research claims to back up his assessments. This is one of many climbing books readers will find engaging.

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14. Training For Climbing by Eric Horst

Taking a cue from cutting-edge research from sports medicine, nutrition, fitness, and psychology, Eric Horst creates a  training program that has proven effective and respected among climbers of all levels.

Although “Training For Climbing” focuses on strength and endurance, it still does explore the mental aspect and techniques of rock climbing. Several climbers report benefiting greatly from the training program offered in this climbing book.

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15. The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by Michael L. Anderson and Mark L. Anderson

Many climbers regard this manual to be one of the most valuable resources for rock climbing training. Although its cover does not judge a book, its size gives the impression it’s the complete package it truly is.

All of the information in this climbing book is not only necessary but applicable. Many climbers have reported success stories of unbelievable gain following the training plan recommended in this climbing book.

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16. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

Touching the Void is one of the many popular climbing books. Written by Joe Simpson, the book tells his tragic yet triumphant ascent with Simon Yates of the 6,344-meter peak, Siula Grande, located in Peruvian Andes.

The book’s core theme centers on friendship, survival, endurance, fear, and suffering while telling a truly captivating story of humans’ physical and spiritual strength. Touching the Void was turned into a movie.

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17. The Mountain of My Fear by David Roberts

The Mountain of My Fear is David Roberts’s account of his climb in Alaska at the Harvard Route on Mount Huntington. They had been four of them who had embarked on the climbing adventure but only two return.

In that state of emotional destabilization, David Robert, who happened to be one of the two who return from the Mount Huntington climb, poured his emotion into writing. The result was “The Mountain of My Fear.

The book was written with unparallel insight and raw to the core.

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18. Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum

This is the first climbing book on the sport of mountaineering written from the perspective of a woman.

It was published in 1984 and told the story of thirteen women in climbing plight as they made history to become the first Americans and women to climb the world’s tenth tallest peak, Annapurna.

The leader of this climbing expedition, who happens to be the book’s writer, describes the challenging, tragic, yet inspiring climb in a fashion that bores evidence of humor, honesty, and passion.

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19. Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray

Conquistadors of the Useless is a mountaineering classic converted into print about the autobiography of Lionel Terray. It tells of his climbing bravery and feats in the face of daunting odds, his climbing endeavors with legends such as Gaston Rebuffa, Maurice Herzog, and Louis Lachenal.

Terry’s story is captivating, focusing on fact and personal insight, and appeals to readers who love climbings.

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20. The Climbing Bible by Martin Mobråten and Stian Christophersen 

The climbing bible serves as a comprehensive guide to beginners and advanced climbers with easy-to-understand coverage of the several aspects of indoor and outdoor rock climbing training.

You can expect to learn from the book about the different types of finger grips, footwork, climbing techniques, and the mental aspect of climbing.

The book contains more than 400 techniques and illustrative action photos to drive its point to readers better.

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21. How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi

This is the ideal book for teenage and youth climbers. It is deliberate on perseverance and offers effective problem-solving tips for climbing, connecting them to more general situations and thus making “How to Solve a Problem” an incredible and helpful life guide book for youth readers and climbers.

As much as the book is instructive, readers will also find it entertaining. This is one climbing book that will appeal to youthful climbers.

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22. Drawn: The Art of Ascent by Jeremy Collins

In “Drawn: The Art of Ascent,” Jeremy Collins retells his personal journey as a climber and artist, chronicling details of his first ascents in the United States, Canada, Venezuela, and China.

Collins’s excellent storytelling of his climbing adventures will no doubt fascinate readers and leave adventure-seeking climbers inspired. 

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23. Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go by Steph Davis

If you’ve got a female climber as a friend, you’d be doing them a great favor by giving them this book as a gift.

One of the greatest superstars in the climbing community who has ascended some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks recounts the story of her life, the tragedies, and adventures and her transition from climbing to base jumping stating all the risks she had to cope with it and yet the thrill of it all.

This book addresses important life lessons and undoubtedly inspires readers, especially climbers, in their pursuit of the realization of their life goals.

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24. Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock Climber by Steve Roper

This book delved into the origin of climbing in the United States. Interested readers who want to educate themselves on climbing history will find Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber an excellent read.

It gives details of the 1960’s climbing revolution in Yosemite and tells stories about many important individuals who impacted the history of North American climbing, Warren Harding and Royal Robbins.

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25. Mastermind: Mental Training for Climbers by Jerry Moffatt

In climbing, the brain is the essential tool the body needs. Taking advantage of the power of your mind and utilizing it to the fullest potential is what makes the most of your strength and techniques in performing under pressure in climbing.

Jerry Moffatt, one of the greatest climbers of all time, takes readers down the path of exploring and maximizing their mental potential in this book.

Mastermind also features inspiring stories from several climbing legends such as Chris Sharma, Alex Megos, Adam Ondra, and Margo Hayes, revealing the innermost thoughts that pushed them to keep going even under pressure and perform at their best.

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26. Revelations by Jerry Moffatt

This is another excellent climbing book by Jerry Moffatt. Revelations tell the story of a young Moffatt in his early days of rock climbing, his rise to stardom, and his struggle through career-threatening injury to remain one of the best climbers in the sport for more than two decades.

In summary, Revelations is a grueling yet hilarious account of the climbing community with the dangers, adventure, and glories that tags with it while giving you an inside look into the climbing life of a true legend of the sport.

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27. The Games Climbers Play compiled by Ken Wilson

“The Games Climbers Play” is a collection of essays, stories, and poems of multiple writers that connect to the frenetic world of mountaineers and rock climbers.

It was first printed in 1978 and has since undergone reprint six times – proof of its success and popularity.

The stories in “Games Climbers Play” gleam a touch of light-hearted humor while meddling with some polemical and philosophical tracts and depicted by illustrations of Sheridan Anderson’s cartoons to serve readers a complete picture of the climbing game.

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28. Space Below My Feet by Gwen Moffat 

This is the story of Gwen Moffat in her travels through the mountains after quitting her post in the Army.

Having nothing but a rope and few belongings in her backpack, she goes through full survival mode, hitch-hiking her way around Skye to Chamonix and practically living on nothing.

“Space Below My Feet” details an account of her mountaineering exploits and her struggle through challenging climbs to become Britain’s leading female climber and the first qualified woman to serve as a mountain guide.

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29. Warnings Against Myself: Meditations on a Life in Climbing by David Stevenson

“Warnings Against Myself” tells of the adventure of a life devoted to climbing while giving readers a first-hand account of climbing.

It is written in a style that emphasizes literary references and yet engaging characterization of reputable climbers. Lovers of adventure climbing stories will undoubtedly make this book a priority to read.

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30. Self-Coached Climber: The Guide to Movement, Training, Performance by Dan Hague and Douglas Hunter

Training yourself to climb can be a daunting task, but it isn’t impossible. “Self-Coached Climber” is one of the best climbing training books that will help improve your climbing skills with noticeable gains.

The book relies on the fundamental principles of movement, i.e., Balance, Endurance, Strength, and Power. However, the guide in this book is written to appeal to intermediate climbers; the lessons are still applicable and beneficial to beginners and advanced climbers.

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31. The Mountains of My Life by Walter Bonatti

In the twentieth century, Walter Bonatti was one of the top figures in mountaineering climbing when modern technology hadn’t advanced the sport.

In his book “The Mountain of My Life,” he recounts his mountaineering adventures of the Alps and Himalayas and his first ascent of K2 in 1954. If alpinism interests you, this book is worth you reading. 

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32. The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits by Tommy Caldwell

The name Tommy Caldwell rings bells in the climbing world. A well-respected climber and nothing short of a climbing legend would perfectly describe Caldwell.

He has a reputation for climbing the most difficult and biggest walls in the world. However, before the greatness that his name has come to be associated with in climbing, he was once a mere mortal, an undersized climber, an underdog in the sport.

Best Climbing Books

In his book “The Push,” Cladwell retells his unexpected and inspiring rise to fame in rock climbing. He tells his struggles, perseverance, endurance, and reward for his accomplished rock climbing success.

“The Push” is a brutal, honest account of Tommy Cladwell’s hardships and achievements that lack details. It is a must-read for climbers and generally anyone seeking to read something inspirational.

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33. The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott

The masses consider climbers with a view of skepticism.

While climbers are generally obsessed with challenging unclaimed heights and seek to stand at the foot of the world, the masses cannot understand the idea behind such obsession that pushes climbers to risk their necks.

This is what “The Impossible Climb” is about; it delivers to its readers an inside perspective of life on the rocks and precisely the path that led to the now-famous free solo climb of El Capitan.

It is a compelling emotional drama about climbers’ passion, capturing the inspiration behind the struggle, extremity of climbers in achieving the delicate balance in nature. This climbing book is a source of motivation for climbers and should be read by all.

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34. Rock Climbing Technique: The Practical Guide to Movement Mastery by John Kettle

UK foremost climbing movement specialist puts together two decades’ worth of climbing experience in this climbing manual.

This book delved into the “how” of climbing at the core with more than 35 exercises with illustrations to help climbers with the fundamental skills to conquer even the steepest of walls.

Chapters in the book are explicitly divided to help readers focus on certain techniques with a comprehensive guide to help improve their skillset.

Past readers and climbers have made a positive report of the techniques taught in the book, improving their climbing abilities and confidence in tackling a climb.

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35. Tides: a climber’s voyage by Nick Bullock

Nick Bullock tells his story after his retirement as a prison officer and his climbing exploits.

He tells of his adventures with a few of the world’s leading climbers such as James McHaffie, Kenton Cool, Steve House, Andy Houseman, and Nico Favresse as they push past the limit on some of the world’s difficult routes.

“Tides” is a compelling, soul-gripping memoir that shows what it means to be dedicated to a life of climbing.

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36. 1001 Climbing tips by Andy Kirkpatrick

1001 climbing tips are much more than a regular instruction manual. It is a collection of tips and not essentially for climbers only but anyone around the mountains.

If you’re also seeking a book to help improve your climbing skills, this is the book for you. Andy Kirkpatrick condenses three decades of climbing obsession in 1001 Climbing tips. It teaches right from the basic all through to tips on tackling large multi-pitch climbs.

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37. Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick

Andy Kirkpatrick, a reputable and accomplished mountaineer and big-,wall climber tells of his adventure in his thirteen-day ascent of Reticent Wall on El Capitan in California in Psychovertical.

Lovers of climbing adventure will find “Psychovertical” a fascinating, hilarious, yet challenging autobiography.

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38. Hangdog Days by Jeffrey L Smoot

In many ways, “Hangdog Days” is one of American greatest climbing novels. It vividly chronicles the era when rock climbing exploded in popularity from the point of view of the writer and climber, Jeff Smoot.

Slowly serving readers the history of climbing, it switches to the climbing days of Smoot, serving a fascinating first-hand account of his climbing exploits. 

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39. High Infatuation – A Climber’s Guide To Love And Gravity by Steph Davis

“High Infatuation” is a collection of poems and essays based on the themes of life, friendship, and love in connection to the common thread of climbing by one of the world’s leading climbers, Steph Davis.

She takes readers on a journey through the mountains of Patagonia in the face of unfavorable weather, her climbing of the rock wall of Yosemite El Capitan in a day, and several similar adventures that reveal her soul in the pages.

High Infatuation is all about her journey of ambition, compassion, and Independence.

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40. The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer

With a very descriptive writing style that will keep you hooked on, Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer details a compelling story of his ascent of the Eiger while examining both his successful and unsuccessful attempts between 1935 to 1962.

If you’re an ardent lover of climbing literature, this book will greatly interest you.

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41. The Mountain – My Time On Everest by Ed Viesturs and David Roberts

This fascinating non-fiction story takes readers on a journey to the world’s highest mountain, Everest. The authors detailing the obsession, devotion, and human achievement in writing to the highest mountain in the world. 

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42. Falcon Guide to Climbing Anchors by John Long and Bob Gaines

“Falcon Guide to Climbing Anchors” presents rules rock climbers adhere to help prevail through the struggles, risks, and hurdles that come with the sport.

This is the ideal climbing book for climbers who depends on an anchor for protection. It teaches everything there is to know about rock climbing anchors and the basic and various anchor setups with picture analysis.

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43. Exposed: Tragedy & Triumph in Mountain Climbing by Brad McQueen

Exposed: Tragedy & Triumph in Mountain Climbing captures the climbing exploits of a mountain lover, climber, and writer Brad McQueen in his home state and beyond.

He writes about his falls and rises the triumphs while educating readers on climbing through an endless glossary of climbing terms. This is a journey of how the ordinary became accomplished extraordinary.

It is inspiring and gives an inside look at McQueen’s climbing venture and achievement.

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44. Advanced Rock Climbing: Expert Skills and Techniques by Topher Donahue

This book will undoubtedly appeal to all passionate climbers seeking improvement from training, gear to multi-pitch efficiency and more. However, it is specifically for climbers already accustomed to and experience in the sport and seeking transition from the intermediate to advanced level of climbing.

The book provides a step-by-step guide with picture photographs and lessons on tendon strength training, improvising self-rescue, conservation of energy on big faces, and many more.

Every chapter in the book contains detailed advice from some of the best climbers and guides globally, including Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Justen Sjong, Sonny Trotter, Angela Hawse, and Steph Davis.

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45. Climb Strong: Strength: Foundational Training for Rock Climbing by Steve Bechtel

In climbing, strength is one of the most fundamental qualities needed to be developed. A climber with a high level of strength can move with great endurance and power across walls with no additional training.

“Climbing Strong” teaches strength programs with effective stability and mobility exercise that will help climbers develop bullet-proof fitness to tackle any climbing attempt.

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46. Downward Bound: A Mad Guide To Rock Climbing by Warren Harding

The fall of 1970 sees the news media following the life and death drama of two men struggling on a mountain; one of the two men happened to be Warren Harding.

He has since then grown in his fame in the climbing community and become a legend in the sport.

In “Downward Bound,” Harding shares his years of climbing experience with readers while attempting to answer questions such as “why do you climb? Is it dangerous? How do you get started on climbing? How do you sleep hanging on a sheer vertical wall? and the most curious question of all, how do you go toileting while up on high there?” “Downward Bound” takes readers back to the golden age of climbing, centering on the feats, questions, and issues facing us today. 

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47. Advanced Rock Climbing: Mastering Sport and Trad Climbing Book by Bob Gaines

For climbers seeking to improve their skills and climbing experience to get to the next level of climbing, this is the book for you.

AMGA wrote it Certified rock instructor Bob Gaines and explore in details instructions on face climbing, crack climbing, and anchor systems; it also deliberate on topics of best practices for trad climbs, the latest rescue and assistance techniques, in-depth information on aid climbing with the inclusion of the Yosemite Method and many more.

This book is certainly a must-read for every climbing instructor and serious climber.

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48. Vantage Point: 50 Years of the Best Climbing Stories Ever Told by The Editors of Climbing Magazine

For almost five decades, Climbing Magazine’s goal has been to entertain and inspire the audience with fascinating coverage of climbing in all forms spanning from big walls to bouldering, trad rock to sport climbing, mountaineering to ice climbing.

Through Vantage Point, the editors of Climbing Magazine put together a collection of the most thought-provoking, hilarious, and yet inspiring stories of climbing of the past five decades.

Do not be surprised if, after reading Vantage Point, you find yourself grabbing a chalk bag, rope, and harness heading out for some climbing fun.

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49. Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America by Jesse Lynch

Anyone interested in climbing, be it athletes or just readers who appreciate the breathtaking beauty and improbable physical feats of North American landscapes, would gladly appreciate “Climbing Rock.”

The book gives an in-depth look at some of the most diverse landscapes and magnificent climbing areas in North America throughout the seasons, from Canada’s Bugaboos in the summer to Rifle, CO, in spring, to Mexico’s Potrero Chico in winter, to New York’s Shawangunks in the fall and many more.

These grand locations deliver the exhilarating and adventurous experience of climbing.

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50. Conditioning for Climbers: The Complete Exercise Guide by Eric Horst 

It is common knowledge that climbing is a sport that brutally challenges your physical strength, endurance, stamina, and flexibility. Hence, good climbers have to build up the quality to take on the daunting yet exciting task.

“Conditioning for Climbers” help climber of all ages develop these physical qualities by providing a comprehensive, personalized exercise program to stick to with the knowledge, experience, and tools needed to carry out the designed program. This is another must-read climbing book for climbers of all levels.

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Climbing is an addictive and fun activity. Reading adventurous books about climbing is also incredibly entertaining.

The climbing books listed above will help you get lost in the soulful adventures climbing has to offer. Some of the books above align with your intention for those looking to get into climbing as a sport and those already in it but want to expand their climbing careers.

I wish you happy reading and hope to see you next on the crag. Please let us know your thoughts on our best climbing books in the comments section below.

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