10 Mountaineering Books Every Climber Should Read

10 Mountaineering Books Every Climber Should Read

As a climber, it is important to constantly seek inspiration and knowledge to enhance your skills and understanding of the sport. One of the best ways to do this is by reading books written by experienced mountaineers. In this article, we have compiled a list of 10 must-read mountaineering books that cover a wide range of topics, from gripping personal accounts of epic climbs to informative guides on technique and safety. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned climber, these books will provide valuable insights, tips, and motivation to help you conquer new heights.


1. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

"Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer is a gripping and harrowing account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Krakauer, an experienced climber and journalist, was part of a commercial expedition that turned into one of the deadliest seasons in Everest’s history. In this book, he vividly describes the events leading up to the tragedy, the challenges faced by the climbers, and the devastating consequences. Krakauer’s personal perspective and introspection make this book a must-read for any climber seeking to understand the risks and complexities of high-altitude mountaineering.

2. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

"Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson is a remarkable and inspiring true story of survival against all odds. It recounts Simpson’s near-fatal climb in the Peruvian Andes and the subsequent life-threatening accident he faced. Left for dead by his climbing partner, Simon Yates, Simpson miraculously manages to crawl back to base camp after enduring unimaginable pain and hardship. This gripping narrative explores the physical and mental challenges of mountaineering and the resilience of the human spirit. "Touching the Void" is a powerful testament to the indomitable will and determination of climbers.

3. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog

"Annapurna" by Maurice Herzog is a classic mountaineering book that chronicles the first successful ascent of an 8,000-meter peak. Herzog and his team, including Louis Lachenal, achieved the historic climb of Annapurna in 1950. This book not only captures the exhilaration and triumph of conquering a challenging peak but also delves into the physical and emotional toll it takes on the climbers. Herzog’s detailed account of the expedition, the extreme weather conditions, and the team’s struggles provides valuable insights into the world of high-altitude mountaineering. "Annapurna" is a must-read for climbers seeking to understand the early days of Himalayan exploration.

These biographies offer incredible insights into the world of mountaineering, showcasing the triumphs, struggles, and resilience of climbers who push the boundaries of human achievement. Whether you are an aspiring climber or simply fascinated by the pursuit of conquering mountains, these books will transport you to the awe-inspiring heights and depths of the mountaineering world.


1. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills by The Mountaineers

"Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills" is widely regarded as the bible of mountaineering. Written by The Mountaineers, an organization with a rich history in outdoor exploration, this book serves as an essential guide for climbers of all levels.

Covering a wide range of topics, from basic mountaineering techniques to advanced expedition planning, this guidebook offers a comprehensive overview of the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the mountains. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, this book provides valuable insights and practical advice to enhance your mountaineering journey.

2. The Mountain Guide Manual by Marc Chauvin and Rob Coppolillo

"The Mountain Guide Manual" is a must-have resource for climbers aspiring to become professional mountain guides. Authored by Marc Chauvin and Rob Coppolillo, both highly experienced guides themselves, this book delves into the intricacies of guiding and instructing others in the mountains.

From risk management and decision-making to technical skills and client management, this guidebook covers all aspects of guiding in a clear and concise manner. It not only equips aspiring guides with the necessary knowledge but also emphasizes the importance of professionalism and ethical conduct in the field.

3. Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher by Mark Houston and Kathy Cosley

For those seeking to push their climbing abilities to new heights, "Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher" is an invaluable resource. Authored by Mark Houston and Kathy Cosley, two renowned alpinists, this guidebook focuses on the specific techniques and strategies required for alpine climbing.

Covering topics such as route finding, anchor systems, glacier travel, and high-altitude acclimatization, this book provides climbers with the skills necessary to tackle the world’s most challenging alpine environments. With detailed explanations and helpful illustrations, it serves as a practical guide to enhance your alpine climbing proficiency.

These guidebooks offer climbers a wealth of knowledge and guidance to enhance their mountaineering pursuits. Whether you’re a novice climber looking to learn the basics or an experienced mountaineer aiming to refine your skills, these books are essential additions to your reading list.

Adventure Stories

1. Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer

Eiger Dreams, written by Jon Krakauer, is a captivating collection of mountaineering essays that will transport you to the thrilling world of high-altitude adventures. Krakauer, a renowned mountaineer and author of the best-selling book Into Thin Air, shares his personal experiences and encounters with some of the most challenging peaks in the world. From the adrenaline-fueled climbs to the humorous anecdotes, this book will leave you inspired and craving your own mountaineering escapades.

2. The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer

Heinrich Harrer’s The White Spider is a classic mountaineering masterpiece that takes you deep into the heart of the treacherous Eiger North Face. With vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to detail, Harrer recounts the harrowing attempts to conquer one of the most dangerous and coveted ascents in the Swiss Alps. This gripping tale of determination, courage, and the indomitable human spirit will keep you on the edge of your seat and impart a profound appreciation for the challenges faced by mountaineers.

3. No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs

No Shortcuts to the Top, authored by Ed Viesturs, a legendary American mountaineer, provides an enthralling account of his relentless pursuit of climbing all fourteen of the world’s highest peaks without supplemental oxygen. Viesturs shares his personal stories of triumph, tragedy, and the valuable lessons learned throughout his career. This book not only offers a captivating narrative but also serves as a testament to the importance of perseverance, preparation, and the unwavering commitment required to reach the pinnacle of mountaineering success.

Immerse yourself in these adventure stories, and let the tales of these mountaineering legends ignite your passion for exploration, pushing the boundaries of human endurance, and embarking on your own exhilarating mountaineering journeys.

In conclusion, these 10 mountaineering books are essential reads for climbers of all levels. Whether you are a beginner looking for inspiration or an experienced mountaineer seeking to expand your knowledge, these books provide valuable insights, thrilling accounts, and practical advice. From classic tales of triumph and tragedy to modern guides on technique and safety, each book offers a unique perspective on the world of mountaineering. So, grab a copy, immerse yourself in these captivating stories, and let them inspire you on your next climbing adventure. Happy reading and happy climbing!