Mountain Climbing Book

20 Best Mountain Climbing Books Of All Time

Whether you’re seeking to read to pass the time, entertain yourself, or learn valuable mountain climbing experiences, we’ve compiled a list of the best mountain climbing books.

Many of the books on this list draw on accounts of several world-class climbers, past climbing expeditions in the toughest of environments, both successful and unsuccessful. Climbing guide books that majorly focus on climbing training and techniques also make the cut in this list.

Table of Contents show

Mountain Climbing Books

This list is based on best-selling and popular mountain climbing books on earth. Enjoy!

1. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer  

Mountaineer and Journalist Jon Krakauer pens down Mt. Everest’s 1996 disaster, which resulted in the death of 8 people and left many others with many heavy memories of loss in “Into Thin Air.”

Krakauer’s account addresses several of the disaster’s controversial questions while humbling backing his assessments of the controversial disputes with illustrations of his research claims.

“Into Thin Air” ranks among the best-selling mountain climbing books and is widely popular. It is the ideal book for readers seeking to get enlightened on the happenings of the Mt. Everest disaster.

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2. Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills 

“Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills” is a time-tested classic book for mountaineering of all abilities and has been in print for nearly 60 years. Many mountaineers and climbers consider it as the bible of climbing.

With the help of easy-to-understand diagrams and straightforward writing, the book covers topics about climbing techniques, ropework, outdoor fundamentals, emergency response, and much more.

A team wrote it, of more than 40 experts in the field of climbing.

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3. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

Dead Mountain tells the story of the mysterious death of nine young Russian hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains, known as Dead Mountain, in February 1959.

Over the years that followed after the painful incidents, there have been speculations as to what truly happened.

Dead Mountain is a story around the mystery of the incident gathering its information from rarely seen government records, several interviews, and access to the hikers’ journals and photographs. 

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4. The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest by Mark Synnott

Lured by a hundred-year mystery, American veteran climber Mark Synnott embarks on an expedition up Mount Everest in the spring of 2019.

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He discovered in his expedition a gripping human story of dynamic characters and a mountain that will consume your soul, and that is what “The Third Pole is all about. 

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5. Where You’ll Find Me: Risk, Decisions, and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova by Ty Gagne

Avid mountaineer Kate Matrosova journeyed to the Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire was the White Mountains on February 15, 2015; sadly, that was her last climb.

The following day, her frozen body was carried off. At the age of 32, a healthy and ultra-fit Matrosova had conquered much larger mountains; unfortunately, New Hampshire’s White Mountain was an exception.

Despite being equipped with a rescue beacon and a satellite phone as part of her gears, a New Hampshire Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, a Civil Air Patrol Cessna airplane, and over 40 expert searches and rescue personnel could not reach her in time to save her.

“Where You’ll Find Me” gives in details happenings in the last climb of Kate Matrosova- what we know and what we will never know.

Climbers will benefit from reading this particular mountain climbing book as it gives informative ideas and case studies regarding decision-making and risk analysis.

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6. Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Steve House and Scott Johnston put training into practice in “Training for the New Alpinism” to help readers to coach themselves in their endeavors to achieve their mountaineering goals.

They deliver detailed instruction concerning how to plan and execute training that personally fits with climbers’ circumstances while touching subjects on endurance and strength, nutrition, mental fitness, and many more.

In the book, there are also inspiring essays from several world-renowned climbers, including Mark Twight, Will Gadd, Peter Habeler, Voytek Kurtyka, and Ueli Steck.

This is the ideal mountain climbing book for climbers seeking to improve their skills and is filled with photos and illustrations.

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7. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

June 3rd, 2017 is a historic date in the climbing world, for that was the day the great Alex Honnold became the very first person to free solo Yosemite’s El Capitan, i.e., scaling the wall without a rope or any form of protective gear and partner.

The feat was deemed the greatest feat in the history of rock climbing.

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“Alone on the Wall” retells the story of this incredible feat with several other astonishing and fascinating achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, emphasizing lessons of fearlessness, risk-taking, and maintaining focus in the face of danger all in Honnold’s own words.

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8. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

The summer of 1985 sees two mountaineers set off to conquer an unclimbed route in the Peruvian Andes; unfortunately, a horrific accident mid-descent cuts short their glory forcing one friend to leave the other for dead.

“Touching the Void” is about the sad tale of this unsuccessful climb. It is an exciting read for readers interested in adventurous climbing literature and climbers to learn a lesson or two.

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9. Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day by Peter Zuckerman

Eleven climbers died on K2 in 2008; however, two Sherpas survived to tell the tale of what happened. Their story became an extraordinary tale of mountaineering legend.

“Buried in the Sky” follows the dramatic yet disastrous adventure of the Sherpas from their remote villages in Nepal to the height of one of the world’s most dangerous mountains.

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10. Training for the Uphill Athlete: A Manual for Mountain Runners and Ski Mountaineers by Steve House, Scott Johnston, Kilian Jornet 

Basking in the success of their first book “Training of the New Alpinism,” American climber and mountain guide Steve House, Olympic-level cross country ski coach Scott Johnston, and Kilian Jornet partner up together, and the result was the birth of a new book, “Training for the Uphill Athlete.”

This mountain climbing book is an authoritative but accessible training manual for athletes. It puts in methodology the theory to help readers create training plans and coach themselves to endurance goals.

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11. Code 1244: The 1986 Mount Hood Tragedy by Ric Conrad

Ric Conrad pens down the May 1986 climbing of the second most climbed mountain in the would Oregon’s Mount Hood.

Twenty climbers had embarked on this climbing venture and were stuck in one of the worst blizzards. They battle against the rage of bad weather while waiting on the help of Search and Rescue operations to come to their plight.

Noticing that no book has been written about this highly controversial climbing event, Ric Conrad spent over four years researching, conducting interviews of key witnesses of the climbing event, including family and friends of missing climbers, and the result is the book “Code 1244” based on the 1986 Mount Hood Tragedy, an agonizing but heroic story of one of America’s worst mountaineering tragedies.

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12. Crack Climbing: The Definitive Guide (Mountaineers Outdoor Expert) by Pete Whittaker  

Crack climbing is a different and technical form of climbing movement which involves the positioning of hands, feet, and even the entire body in cracks to make upward progress on the rock.

Pete Whittaker, an advocate of the sports’ aesthetic lines, put in writing a detailed guide that teaches step-by-step techniques on the subject of Crack Climbing giving tips on:

  • Jamming (finger, hand, fist, foot, arm, leg, body)
  • Strength recovery during climbs
  • Crack types (chimneys, liebacks, roof cracks, underclings)
  • Efficient positioning and movement
  • How to safely lead and place protection

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13. Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography by Bear Grylls

British adventurer Bear Grylls was introduced to the world of climbing at a very tender age.

As a teenager, he delved into mountaineering and martial arts, and this led him into the foothills of the mighty Himalayas and earning a second-degree black belt.

Despite the unfortunate parachute accident, against all odds, he became one of the youngest climbers to scale Mount Everest, the highest summit in the world.

But this was the beginning of his glories and extraordinary deeds. In “Mud, Sweat, and Tears,” Bear Grylls tells of his many survival adventures. 

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14. Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail by Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson hiked through mud, rocks, and mountain blazes in 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia in a bid to crush her self-doubt, insecurities and mostly to convince her self her earlier success of setting a self-supported Fastest Known Time record on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 wasn’t a fluke.

She recounts the struggles, physical and emotional pain she endures in that climb, and the endless joy she felt upon peaking the summit of Springer Mountain, all in “Mud, Rocks, Blazers.”

This is an inspiring story for climbers doubting their abilities.

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15. Climbing New Hampshire’s 48 4,000 Footers: From Casual Hikes to Challenging Ascents (Regional Hiking Series) by Eli Burakian 

Residents of New Hampshire and its visitors are regularly making it a thing embarking on one of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000 footers.

“Climbing New Hampshire’s 48 4,000 Footers” provides a dearth of useful information for each mountain and its surrounding areas to equipped hikers and climbers.

The book gives information about all 48 iconic mountains that top out over 4,000 feet, its several routes up each mountain, GPS coordinates, full-color photography, and maps throughout as well as details on the area’s climate and geology.

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16. Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak by Maurice Herzog  

Annapurna is an 8,100-meter mountain and one of the most forbidding in the Himalayan chain. It is known for its extreme height and considered dangerous for its treacherous and long approach.

It wasn’t until 1950 before a group of French mountaineers conquered the mountain. They reached their peak, becoming the first men to prevail against odds and accomplish this feat without using any modern-day climbing equipment that contemporary climbers use.

Maurice Herzog gives a first-hand account of this gruesome climb in “Annapurna,” which has seen the book become one of the very famous mountaineering/ mountain climbing books of all time.

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17. Everest ’96 by Ken Vernon 

“Everest ’96,” tells of the tales and drama of the 1996 Mt. Everest climb, but from the point of view, that is largely unexpected, controversial, and opposite from what mountain climbing books give tales about.

Too often, we read about the best of climbers in their achievement, their bravery, courage, and sacrifice to risk their life.

But, how often do you come across a book that gives you a brutally honest account of the other type of climbers who cheats and prefer to sacrifice others in their obsession to reach the top of Mt. Everest and not only succeed in their endeavors but lives to prosper from the feat with the sacrifice of the good guys almost forgotten and unacknowledged.

“Everest ’96” is one such book; it tells about one of the worst.

In 1996, both the good and the bad guys embarked on what was to be known as one of the deadliest years in the history of climbing Mt. Everest.

The good guys died, and the bad guy not only peaks the top of the highest mountain in the world but lived to proper from the feat.

Ken Vernon peels layers upon layers of deception that surrounds the past of the man who became the most reviled in mountaineering lore in this book.

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18. Tears in the Wind: Triumph and Tragedy on America’s Highest Peak by Larry Semento 

This is a gripping account of Larry Semento’s expedition to climb Denali in writing. Formerly known as Mt. McKinney,

Denali is the highest peak in North America and has a nerve-wracking reputation for its vicious winds and unfriendly weather.

Semento, who has been fascinated by climbing and mountaineering in his childhood, had signed up with a guided group to attempt the ascent of Denali, which turned to be an expedition filled with tragedy and triumph.

Denali did not spare Semento and his team its fury, serving them life and death terms that took its toll on them not just physically but also emotionally.

This is an interesting read filled with valuable lessons for both climbers and regular readers.

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19. Ascent Into Hell: Mount Everest by Fergus White  

It all started as a trouble-free trek into the Nepalese highlands but turned out to be an adventure of adversity, hardship, and peril.

This is another riveting account of an Everest climb. Climbers tore between their primal instincts to survive and push themselves further to the top and, if successful eventually, to get back down again.

Some return brutally injured; others do not return at all. Fergus White’s “Ascent Into Hell” takes readers on a voyage of another dangerous climbing adventure in a land of subzero temperatures, asphyxiating air, and ever-increasing dangers.

This is a must-read for adventure lovers and climbing enthusiasts with a breathtaking climax that will leave your jaw drop.

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20. The Climbing Bible: Technical, physical and mental training for rock climbing by Martin Mobraten and Stian Christophersen 

The number of people getting involved in climbing as a sport and for recreation is increasing. Thus people are seeking books that give guides on how to improve their climbing.

One such book is “The Climbing Bible” by renowned climbing coaches Martin Mobraten and Stian Christophersen. Based on in-depth research and experience, this mountain climbing book provides practical information and techniques in training for the physical, technical, and mental aspects of climbing.

It also gives tips relating to tactics, endurance, motivation, dealing with the fear of falling, fingerboard and finger strength, injury prevention, and many more. It features illustrations of 400 techniques and action photos and also inspiring stories from other too climbers.

“The Climbing Bible” is one of the few mountain climbing books that not only teach you to develop your climbing skills but also encourage you to find joy in the sport.

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Those are 20 of the best mountain climbing books of all time. Definitely, they will meet your reading needs.

They are worth reading most especially for climbers. It’s an avenue to learn from the mistakes and success of some of the best climbers on the globe through the pages.

Till we meet on the crag, keep reading! Please let us know your thoughts on our best mountain climbing books in the comments section below.

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