Are you looking for some great climbing-specific entertainment to help you relax on your next rest day? Maybe you’re in the market for a great read to help you unwind in the evenings while you count down to your next weekend trip in the mountains? To help you satisfy your literary cravings, we at The Adventure Junkies are excited to share 49 of the best climbing books.
For rock climbing adventure stories, tales of mountaineering and alpinism, and even the latest on physical and mental training, look no further. Pick up any of the following great reads for yourself or the climbing-lover in your life and prepare to be inspired.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
49 OF THE BEST CLIMBING BOOKS OF ALL TIME
1. ADVENTURE STORIES
A Youth Wasted Climbing: Canadian climber David Chaundy-Smart recounts stories as a deviant youth in pursuit of rock climbing. Pick up this book if you’re looking for a tale about the coming of age of a young climber in the 70’s and 80’s. Finalist in the 2015 Banff Mountain Book Competition.
Climbing out of Bed: A collection of 25 essays and short stories by Luke Mehall, publisher of the Climbing Zine, celebrating coming of age and the adventures that fuel a dirtbag climber lifestyle.
Jerry Moffatt: Revelations: The story of Jerry Moffatt’s rise to stardom in sport climbing, competition climbing, and bouldering through the 80s and 90s.
Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber: A collection of stories and essays by extreme alpinist Mark Twight. Writing style influenced by the punk that influenced him.
Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go: A memoir by Steph Davis on love and letting go. This book tells of the demise of her marriage with Dean Potter, her discovery of base jumping and living life to the limit, and finding love again.
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Psychovertical: A gripping and entertaining read on how a lower-class kid overcomes his lack on self-confidence by climbing. The honest, intense, and humorous story of Kirkpatrick’s 12-day solo climb of the Reticent Wall on California’s El Capitan.
Punk in the Gym: Stories from the Hollywood-looks climbing star of the 80s and 90s, Andy Pollitt. The book details his roller-coaster life from the UK to Australia, his accomplished climbs, his battles with drinking and depression, and his introduction of lycra to the American climbing scene.
Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs: John Long, a 1970s stonemaster, tells inspirational and historical climbing stories from the training grounds of Joshua Tree to the big walls of Yosemite National Park.
Sherpa: The Memoir of Ang Tharkay: One of the only historical memoirs told from the perspective of a sherpa. The story of Ang Tharkay, born in 1908 and one of the most renowned Sherpas of early Himalayan exploration.
The Bond: After disappearing from the climbing scene for 40 years, Simon McCartney emerges to recount his bold Alaskan first ascents of Mount Huntington’s north face and Denali’s southwest face with Jack Roberts.
Warnings Against Myself: Meditations on a Life in Climbing: A balance between first-hand tales of climbing ascents and a reflection on climbing itself, this book tells the adventure stories of a life dedicated to climbing.
2. INSPIRATION AND ADVENTURE
Alone on the Wall: Autobiography of world-renowned free soloer, Alex Honnold. Alex recounts his personal life during his rise to fame and details several of his biggest climbing accomplishments.
Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock Climber: Steve Roper lived in Yosemite’s Camp 4 during the Golden Age of rock climbing in the valley. Camp 4 tells the tales of the “misfits” who happened to be the top rock climbers in their era and how their presence in Yosemite changed the sport.
Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World: Lynn Hill is an inspirational and legendary woman of rock climbing. Climbing Free tells of Lynn’s famous first free ascent of the Nose in Yosemite, among other details of her climbing life.
Drawn: The Art of Ascent: A beautiful book about finding the balance between climbing, adventure and life. Jeremy Collins winds together stories of climbing, art, adventure, and family.
High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity: A collection of short stories and essays by Steph Davis, with themes of love, life, compassion, and friendship. Told through the lens of a life devoted to climbing.
The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits: The inspiring, dramatic and personal memoir of Tommy Caldwell, one of the greatest rock climbers of all time and first free ascentionist of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite.
Women Who Dare: A profile of twenty of the most prominent and inspiring female climbers, each telling her own story.
3. EDUCATION AND REFERENCE
Basic Rockcraft: A classic by rock master Royal Robbins from the 1970s. Techniques are in some instances outdated for modern rock climbing, but this book remains a classic for any climber’s library.
Better Bouldering: Covering bouldering techniques, injury prevention, and training tips comes this full-color-photo reference rendered from the 35+ year bouldering career of John Sherman himself.
Climb! The history of rock climbing in Colorado: A 25 year anniversary re-issue of the 1970s cult classic “Climb! Rock Climbing in Colorado“ , this book adds 50% more content while preserving the good of the original.
Climbing in North America: A history of the people, routes, peaks and adventures that make up climbing in the USA and Canada from the 1970s onwards.
Knots for Climbers: Climbers depend on knots for their safety lifelines, systems, and general convenience. This book provides step by step photographed knot-tying instructions on all the knots you will need in climbing.
Mountaineering: A best-selling instructional book with more than 40 contributing authors that covers everything from basic rope management and rappelling to evaluating avalanche terrain and developing leadership techniques. Includes hundreds of technical illustrations.
One Move Too Many: Full color edition that examines all injuries common to rock climbers, from belayer’s neck to ruptured pulleys. Includes practical tips on how to prevent injuries, and how to recover quickly afterwards.
Self-Rescue: Knowing how to maneuver safely when unexpected circumstances arise can be a life saver. This instructional guide covers everything from rappelling with an injured climber to self-rescue to effective risk assessment and more.
The Trad Climber’s Bible: A full color instructional guide on everything there is to know about traditional climbing, written by two of the world’s most respected trad climbers: John Long and Peter Croft.
Training for the New Alpinism: Training and advice from two world-class alpinists, this book is designed to help you coach yourself to any mountaineering goal.
4. MENTAL TRAINING
The Rock Warrior’s Way: Detailed and comprehensive insight into the importance of mental training for climbing, with easy-to-follow tips and training exercises. A must read for anyone looking to overcome mental obstacles and up their climbing game.
Espresso Lessons: A follow-up to the fantastic mental training reference, A Rock Warrior’s Way. This book teaches climbers how to gather information and assess risks with practical exercises that build on the previous book’s material.
Peak Performance: A book that can be applied to any aspect of life, Peak Performance teaches climbers how to avoid burn-out while revealing the science behind long lasting performance. Includes inspirational interviews with a variety of top performers from a range of disciplines.
Vertical Mind: Practical drills and step by step exercises drawn from the latest research in brain science and psychology. This book will help climbers train their minds to achieve higher levels of rock climbing performance.
5. TRAINING FOR CLIMBING
Conditioning for Climbers: Written by coach and trainer Eric Horst, this book takes climbers of any ability through the process of goal setting, body conditioning, antagonist muscle work, climbing-specific techniques, and designing a training plan.
Gimme Kraft: A German training guide providing modern, sophisticated exercises for a strong, balanced, and well-rounded climber body, with a focus on long-term performance goals. Includes training interviews with several professional climbers.
How to Climb 5.12: One of Eric Horst’s most popular training manuals, this book is for intermediate climbers eager to boost their performance. Horst provides a wealth of physical and mental training tips to dispel the myth that climbing 5.12 is a lofty goal and make it attainable for anyone willing to put in the effort.
The Rock Climber’s Training Manual: One of the best physical training manuals out there with programs for boulderers, sport climbers, and traditional climbers, tailored for all levels of climbing expertise.
The Self-Coached Climber: A full-color training manual with comprehensive instruction of 52 training exercises. Covers everything from the basics of gripping holds to developing customized training plans.
Training for Climbing: New third edition of an international best seller, this comprehensive rock climbing training manual draws on all the latest climbing research to help you push your climbing to the next level.
6. MOUNTAINEERING AND ALPINISM
Above the Reich: The story of a young alpinist from Munich in the 1930s and his desire to make the best of a world in seeming disarray.
Beyond the Mountain: Stories by acclaimed alpinist Steve House on “suffering well”, fast and light alpinism, and hard lessons of the mountains.
Conquistadors of the Useless: One of the greatest adventure books of all time, written by one of the greatest alpinists of all time, Lionel Terray. The book tells stories of ascents in Alps, Alaska, the Andes, and the Himalayas in partnership with many other history-making mountaineers.
Eiger Dreams: A collection of stories of multiple mountain climbers and a multitude of ascents from a man who has a vast experience in the mountains himself.
Everest: The West Ridge: Originally published in 1968, this book tells the story of Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld’s 1963 first ascent of the dangerous and forbidding West Ridge of Mount Everest.
Into Thin Air: Jon Krakauer’s National Bestseller is a personal account of the heart-wrenching tragedy that claimed five lives on Mount Everest in May 1996.
Starlight and Storm: First published in 1954, this story by Gaston Rebuffat tells tales of climbing camaraderie in the Alps and one’s harmonious communion with the mountain.
The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains: Adventure memoir by Barry Blanchard on growing up in the punk era of climbing. Alpinism stories of his ascents from the Canadian Rockies to the French Alps, Peru to Pakistan and more.
The White Spider: The spell-binding tale of the 1930s first ascent of the north face of the Swiss Eiger.
Touching the Void:A story of perseverance, friendship, struggle and the ultimate close encounter with death following a climbing accident at the summit of a 21,000 foot peak in the Andes.