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18 Best Rock Climbing Books Of All Time

When it comes down to rock climbing books/literature, the options are endless. This makes it hard for readers to determine which is worth their time and money and is a good read.

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In this article, we’ve listed out some of the best rock climbing books that not only offer great insights into the world of rock climbing but tells of the great success of reputable climbers, teach relevant climbing lessons and information on safety and training, and makes for an entertaining read.

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

One of the youngest climbers globally, Ashima Shiraishi, writes a true story about strength and perseverance in rock climbing. A boulder is an obstacle to rock climbers. In a sense, it is a problem that needs to be solved in a climber’s endeavor to reach the top.

There are several twists and turns along the way that is not only brutally challenging but seemingly insurmountable. Thus, climbers have to learn to see the possibility in the seemingly impossible.

Then there comes the moment of achievement when nothing but your conquered goals lays below you and your accomplishments in the sky above you.

Drawing from her climbing experience, Ashima Shiraishi, through her story, tasks readers to tackle and challenge problems in their own lives and push on to greater heights than they would ever have imagined.

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2. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold achieved one of the greatest, rare and unforgettable feats in the climbing community when he became the first person to free solo climb Yosemite’s El Capitan, doing this without a partner, protective gear, or even a rope.

He is often regarded as the greatest climber of all time. In his book “Alone on the Wall,” Alex Honnold retells his story, achievements, and career filled with lessons on being fearless, taking risks, and more importantly, his 3hours and 56 minutes climb on the sheer face of El Cap.

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3. Training for Climbing: The Definitive Guide to Improving Your Performance by Eric Horst

This is a great rock climbing book for both beginners and the already established in rock climbing. It is one of the updated climbing training guide books available, with tons of valuable information hidden within its pages waiting to be uncovered.

Based on the latest climbing research, Eric Horst puts together a comprehensive yet evidence-based program to help climbers maximize climbing performance.

“Training for Climbing” taps from the climber’s research and his unique veteran perspective with a combination of his forty years of climbing experience to deliver a masterpiece with a practical guide on the how’s and what’s if climbing.

Some of the topics discussed in the book include strength, power development, and endurance in the crucial finger flexor and pulling muscles, mental training, performance nutrition, and injury prevention.

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4. Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo, Wyoming by Rob Kelman

Vedauwoo is a crag located in Southwest Wyoming. “Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo” is a brilliant rock climbing guidebook listing easy access to the crag, bouldering routes ate from 5:0 to 5:13c.

For any climber seeking to climb at Vedauwoo, be it for entertainment or just climbing, this book will prove helpful to your plight.

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5. Climb Injury-Free: A Proven Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation System by Dr. Jared Vagy DPT

Injury is a factor that hinders many rock climbers. “Climbing Injury-Free” is a guidebook that will teach climbers how to climb pain-free and yet stronger.

The book features a step-by-step rehabilitation and injury prevention program specially designed for rock climbers to transition climbers from the state of pain and tissue overload to gain full mobility, strength and eventually enjoying pain-free climbing movement.

Also, it gives tips on injury advice from many top professional climbers, including Jonathan Siegrist, Adam Ondra, Sean McColl, Sasha DiGiulian, and many others. Some of the injuries this rehabilitation and prevention program covers includes:

  • Neck Strain
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Rotator Cuff Strain
  • Triceps Tendinopathy
  • Lateral Epicondylitis
  • Medial Epicondylitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Pulley Sprain
  • Collateral Ligament Sprain
  • Median, Ulnar and Radial Nerve Injury

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6. Fifty Places to Rock Climb Before You Die by Chris Santella

This book gives insight into some of the greatest rock climbing locations in the world, all recommended by expert climbers.

If you are one for visiting attractive, beautiful climbing locations, this book is ideal for you. Trad, sport, and bouldering are the types of climbing covered in this rock climbing book.

Some of the feature locations in the book are:

  • United States:
  • Bishop, California
  • Cochise Stronghold, Arizona
  • Joshua Tree National Park, California
  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Locations featured outside the United States
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, Canada
  • Frey, Argentina
  • Mount Arapiles, Australia
  • Innsbruck, Austria

“Fifty Places to Rock Climb Before You Die” is an important traveling companion book for every climber, notwithstanding levels or expertise.

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

This is a story of the rise to fall and rising higher than ever once again. This is the story of the best all-around rock climber on earth, Tommy Cladwell.

In this rock climbing book, he details the chronicles of his climbing journey from his boyhood with a fanatical mountain-guide father to his teenage years.

He had been obsessed with climbing, which led him to the top of the sport-climbing circuit filled with emotional, physical, and discouraging challenges.

He lost his left index finger; his wife left him as well as his climbing partner; nonetheless, Cladwell rose from all these to conquer and achieve one of the hardest climbs in climbing history on January 14, 2015-Yosemite’s nearly vertical 3,000-foot Dawn Wall, after nineteen days on the route.

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This is a gripping, inspiring story of focus, drive, endurance, determination, and transformation.

It is a must-read not just for every climber but for everyone as it teaches valuable life lessons in conquering fear and doubt, rising from the depth of failure to growth and success, and perseverance.

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8. Climbing Anchors by John Long and Bob Gaines

Today, many climbers are introduced to the craft on artificial climbing walls filled with fixed protection; thus, their first attempt to lead on trad routes comes as a shock.

They discovered that training on artificial walls shares some similarities with actual walls, but there are still differences.

Too often, they may lack the skills to set up solid belays or safeguard the climb. Fortunately, “Climbing Anchors” comes to the rescue.

This rock climbing book provides authoritative and complete information on protection from the basics, such as knots, to advanced equalizing and rigging skills.

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

As much as improving your climbing skills involves repetitive training, strength, endurance, and flexibility, much depends on simply effective techniques to become swift on the crag.

“Rock Climbing Technique” written by John Kettle, are reputable figure in UK’s climbing movement, offers a practical guide with several techniques, drills and exercise for all levels of climbers to help you become a more efficient climber.

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

“Vertical Mind” deals with the mental aspect of rock climbing. The book teaches climbers to retrain their minds and body for better climbing performance.

It also illustrates how to conquer fears and anxiety that may hinder you from achieving your climbing goals.

It lists out a practical step-by-step approach in drills and exercise with an easy-to-follow training framework to change your outlook on the challenge of rock climbing with the aim results to instill renewed confidence in climbers.

Climbers seeking not only to improve their climbing mentally and physically but to find joy in the sport should definitely read “Vertical Mind.”

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11. How to Climb 5.12 by Eric Horst

In climbing, 5.12 is a difficult grade of climbing that distinguishes intermediate climbers from advanced climbers.

As a result, many intermediate climbers seem to think that climbs of 5.12 are an achievement only in imagination. However, veteran rock climber Eric Horst quells this myth in his book “How to Climb 5.12”.

He provides many tips and suggestions on several critical issues such as climbing strategy and mental training to help climbers achieve the most gains in climbing ability put them on the path to mastery in rock climbing.

This is a must-read for all intermediate climbers striving to become advanced climbers.

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

Climbing experts and coaches Douglas Hunter and Dan M. Hague detail a comprehensive guide of climbing physiology in “Self-Coached Climber, explaining from the basics of gripping holds to laying out specific guidelines for developing an improvement plan.

Basing their methods on the fundamental of human movement, i.e., balance, force, time, and space, they state the application of these principles in achieving efficient climbing results.

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13. Seneca: The Climbers Guide by Andy Weinmann

Seneca features the major east summit that can only be accessed by technical climbing. It happens to be one of the oldest climbing spots in the United States and one of the most important training grounds for a traditional style of climbing.

“Seneca: The Climbers Guide” truly proves to be a guide as it describes more than 513 routes and variations on seven major cliff features; also, it features pictures to point out to readers the difficulty-to-describe cliff faces.

It gives information about where visitors can find guiding services, food, camping, and, more importantly, efficient climbing and descent routes. “Seneca: The Climbers Guide” is the ideal traveling guidebook to major summits in Seneca.

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14. Big Wall Climbing: Elite Technique by Jared Ogden

Jared Ogden climbed his first big wall, El Capitan, in less than twenty-four hours by trial and error.

In his book “Big Wall Climbing: Elite Technique,” he draws on his climbing experience, teaching readers the appropriate tools of the trade and the use of them, how to choose the right climbing partners and routes, how to live on the wall, big wall style and ethics and many more.

Once done with this rock climbing book, you’ll be more than ready for prime big wall climbing destinations across North America, including Rocky Mountain, the Alaskan Range, Yosemite, and the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Parks.

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15. Rock Climbing the Wasatch Range by Stuart Ruckman and Bret Ruckman

This rock climbing book is a compilation of the results of over 60 years of rock climbing in Utah’s Wasatch Range and several climbing locales around Salt Lake City.

The book features route descriptions, detailed topos, difficulty and quality ratings, and accurate location maps.

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16. Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park: A Comprehensive Guide To More Than 1,800 Routes by Alan Watts

Some of the most challenging climbs in the United States are located on Smith Rock State Park walls.

Alan Watts, one of the significant figures who played a leading role in making this climbing spot a popular rock-climbing destination, details over 1700 routes at Smith Rock and its surrounding area in this book.

There isn’t any guidebook as thorough as Alan Watt’s “Rock Climbing Smith Rock” of one of the most popular climbing destinations in the world.

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17. How to Rock Climb by John Long

In this instructional book, American rock climber and author John Long shares the fundamentals of rock climbing from ethics to getting up the rock.

In its fifth edition, climbing lessons in the book include topics on crack climbing, face climbing, sports climbing, anchors and belays, and many more.

It features over 300 photographs and illustrations. “How to Rock Climb” is one of the most thorough instructional guidebooks and should be a must-read for every beginner in rock climbing.

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18. Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick

This is the story of a lower-class kid who has dyslexia gaining control of his life through climbing.

Kirkpatrick tells of his 12-day solo climbing experience of the Reticent Wall, which helped him deal with his insecurities and set him on a path of extreme adventure.

Readers, be it climbers or non-climbers, will find “Psychovertical” a fascinating and entertaining read with both climbing and life lessons to be learned.

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Some of the best rock climbing books will serve as entertaining or leisure read and rock climbing guides.

Some of the books mentioned above deliberate not only on the physical aspect of climbing but also the mental aspect; others tell extraordinary stories of the achievement of famous climbers and their struggles to the top.

Whichever you read, you’re sure to learn something new that would be helpful on the crag and your personal life.

Please let us know your thoughts on our best rock climbing books in the comments section below.

See more Rock Climbing Diet & Nutrition, 50 Best Climbing Books Of All Time, and 10 Best Rock Climbing Places & Spots In The U.S.