We like reading about climbing just as much as we enjoy climbing. Nothing beats opening a book and learning about life in Camp 4, the rivalry between climbing’s first great climbers, and also how our sport has grown into what it is today.
- 1. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
- 2. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold
- 3. Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna by Lionel Terray
- 4. The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner
- 5. Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber by Steve Roper
- 6. Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers by Chris Noble
- 7. Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill
- 8. Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing by Don McGrath and Jeff Elison
- 9. Drawn: The Art of Ascent by Jeremy Collins
- 10. Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner
- 11. High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity by Steph Davis
- 12. Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick
- 13. Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go by Steph Davis
- 14. Self-Rescue by David Fasulo
- 15. One Move Too Many by Dr. Volker Schoeff
- 16. The Trad Climber’s Bible by John Long and Peter Croft
- 17. The Good, the Great and the Awesome by Peter Croft
- 18. Basic Rockcraft by Royal Robbins
- 19. Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs by John Long
- 20. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
- 21. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- 22. Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum
- 23. Hangdog Days by Jeff Smoot
- 24. The Impossible Climb by Mark Synnott
- 25. The Mountain of My Fear by David Roberts
- 26. How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi
- 27. Mastermind: Mental Training for Climbers by Jerry Moffatt
- 28. Revelations by Jerry Moffatt
- 29. The Games Climbers Play by Ken Wilson
- 30. Space Below My Feet by Gwen Moffat
It is difficult to tell which climbing books are worth the time and money when there are so many to choose from. To assist you, we have put together a list of the top thirty climbing books. We enjoy these publications because of the material on safety training, the mental side, or the glimpse into the mountaineering life that they provide.
The Top 30 Climbing Books You Should Read:
Each of these publications serves a specific function, but collectively, they motivate contemporary advanced climbers to respect those who came before them.
This is a tribute to our favorite books, and while there are many more to enjoy, they will transport you back in time to when a climbing gym was John Bachar’s bouldering circuit and a gear was a double looped swami belt.
1. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void chronicles the account of his and Simon Yates’ disaster-plagued but eventually successful climb of Siula Grande, a 6,344-meter mountain. The novel focuses on friendship, pain, terror, and survival, among other themes. It also tells the narrative of humanity’s spiritual and physical endurance. The novel received a lot of attention once it was adapted into a film in 2003.
2. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold
Alex Honnold, the world-famous free soloist, offers an intimate look as he recounts his seven best climbs. He focuses on subjects such as danger, reward, and concentration. David Roberts, his co-writer, adds background and perspective to the story. The book also includes 16 pages of color images that will inspire you to get outside and pursue your aspirations.
3. Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna by Lionel Terray
Conquistadors of the Useless is a beautiful and amazing autobiography written by Lionel Terray, who had significant climbs in the Andes and the Himalayas. He makes climbing, which can be sluggish and tedious at times, into intriguing stories. This book will appeal to everyone who enjoys the mountains and wants to learn more about them in a way that balances information, personal insight, and passion.
4. The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner
Rock Warrior’s Way is a must-read for all climbers, whether they are on 4 or 9B. In climbing literature, the mental components of mountain climbing are sometimes disregarded. We’ve all seen how our ideas may have a big impact on our mountaineering performance and experience.
This mental training manual describes a program for training your mind to overcome anxieties ranging from performance anxiety to fear of falling. The Rock Warrior’s Way teaches us how to utilize our passion for climbing as a motivator.
5. Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber by Steve Roper
This book examines Yosemite’s climbing culture throughout its history. Steven Roper lived in Yosemite Valley for ten years during the “Golden Age” of rock climbing. Camp 4 was formerly a hangout for misfit climbers in the 1960s. Characters, adventures, attitudes, and stories from Camp 4 and Yosemite are detailed in these chronicles.
6. Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers by Chris Noble
Woman Who Dares by Chris Noble is an inspiring book filled with intriguing personal experiences, hardships, victories, and practical advice that can be applied both to climbing and life in general.
Women Who Dare will motivate you whether you are a climber or not. This book serves as a good reminder of how we can all learn to pursue our passions, overcome obstacles, and find personal pleasure in all we do.
7. Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill
Lynn Hill’s autobiography, Climbing Free, chronicles her childhood, climbing career, and free ascent of El Capitan’s The Nose in 1994. Unlike previous autobiographies, this one is both refreshing and inspiring to the reader.
8. Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing by Don McGrath and Jeff Elison
Don McGrath and Jeff Elison educate you about the role of our brains in unlocking our maximum potential as athletes in this mental training guidebook. This book helps you reprogram your brain to function better. This is an excellent book for anyone who is held in check with fear or anxiety when climbing. There will be a lot of useful quizzes, exercises, and insights.
9. Drawn: The Art of Ascent by Jeremy Collins
Jeremy Collins’ beautiful narrative of being tugged in each and every direction while yet being a dedicated parent and husband is told in Drawn. Following the death of a close companion in a mountaineering accident, Jeremy and his pals embark on a quest to establish first ascents in the United States, China, Venezuela, and Canada. Drawn also includes stunning artwork from his sketchbooks, which he preserved during his travels. Climbers and non-climbers both will enjoy and benefit from this book.
10. Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner
Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner does exactly what it says on the tin: it gives climbers a series of useful lessons in a short and effective package. This follow-up to Rock Warrior’s Way is a step-by-step guide to putting the mental fitness ideas outlined in Ilgner’s first book into practice in actual and particular climbing scenarios. This book will help you determine when to take risks, as well as how to deal with the significance and certainty of falling and other themes that will help you create a powerful mindset as you tackle climbing.
11. High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity by Steph Davis
Steph Davis brilliantly articulates her addiction to climbing rocks in this honest narrative of love, soul searching and climbing. High Infatuation is an excellent account of the action and details of climbing certain routes, but it is possibly most important for its intimate glimpse into a climber’s head.
This book will undoubtedly resonate with you and help you feel less insane if you believe that climbing governs your life and directs your every decision.
12. Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick
This autobiography recounts Andy Kirkpatrick’s thirteen-day ascent of El Capitan’s Reticent Wall in Yosemite Valley. He weaves this narrative in with descriptions of numerous more daring climbs which will make you reconsider the term “suffer-fest.” His entire experience is set against the intriguing and ever-present question, “Is this worth it?” As the author attempts to address this issue for himself, the reader gets insights into his persona, marriage, and family.
13. Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go by Steph Davis
Steph Davis’ second book takes readers inside her marriage to Dean Potter and how his infamous ascent of Delicate Arch strained their relationship, and her profession, and prompted her to rethink her own identity. As a result, she sets off on her own alongside her dog, Fletch, in the hopes of discovering something that would help her define her identity.
She finally finds love in skydiving and BASE jumping. This is paradoxical because both of these activities revolve around something climbers despise and try to avoid at all costs: falling. This is a fantastic story about taking risks, adventure and falling in love.
14. Self-Rescue by David Fasulo
This is a really crucial issue that is rarely covered when we initially learn how to climb. It is the climber’s obligation to grasp at least the fundamentals of self-rescue. This book will teach you not only how to self-rescue, but also how to climb down a multi-pitch path with a wounded climber. David Fasulo also goes into great length on ties, anchoring and tether systems, hooks, and other vital ideas. You owe it to yourself and your partner to be familiar with the topics depicted in this book.
15. One Move Too Many by Dr. Volker Schoeff
This book not only gives us practical guidance on how to manage mountaineering accidents but also addresses an issue that climbers rarely address: injury prevention. The writers have constructed a useful handbook that explains the activity of mountaineering and the effects it has on our bodies, using a well-balanced blend of physiology, science, and sports medicine. Taping, stretching, muscular growth, overuse effects, rehabilitation, and fundamental anatomy are all covered in this book.
16. The Trad Climber’s Bible by John Long and Peter Croft
The Trad Climber’s Bible is a book on traditional climbing written by two of our sport’s most fun and knowledgeable people. Long and Croft provide readers with information and motivation by sharing their hard-earned trad mountaineering experiences. Despite the fact that it was released by Falcon Guides, this is not a handbook or a how-to guide, but rather a collection of narrative-style anecdotes about trad climbing. However, reading this book will undoubtedly teach you a thing or two.
17. The Good, the Great and the Awesome by Peter Croft
This is Peter Croft’s High Sierra guidebook. We understand—how could a manual be deemed worthwhile reading?
Not only will you get beta for 40 of the High Sierra’s most iconic routes in this book, but practically every route will also have a funny, epic, or cringe-worthy anecdote from Peter himself. This book has the feel of a journal rather than a handbook. It will undoubtedly get you pumped up and remind you of why you started rock climbing in the first place.
18. Basic Rockcraft by Royal Robbins
Basic Rockcraft, published in 1971, entered the selection not because it provides cutting-edge material, but because it demonstrates an essential element of bouldering history. The title states it all: this book teaches the fundamentals of rock climbing. It’s a brief book that’ll provide any newbie a good foundation of mountaineering knowledge. Even if you don’t climb, you’ll like this work for its appeal and look into our history.
19. Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs by John Long
John Long traces the tale of rock climbing in this humorous, eccentric, and educational book. Through instructive and humorous anecdotes from the “golden era” of climbing, Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs educate us more about the early days of our sport.
Long has penned these stories in such a way that you feel as though you’re sitting around a campfire with him, drinking beers. This book also includes useful insights, philosophy, and technical knowledge, making it a must-read for just any climber.
20. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
While not strictly a climbing book, Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums has enough in common with climbing culture to warrant a place in any climber’s collection.
The narrator’s hike/climb up California’s Matterhorn Peak is the book’s most climbing-centric sequence, in which Kerouac asserts that each individual’s performance is symbolic of his karma. This is a fun read, with a healthy dosage of drink, love, narcotics, and spirituality thrown in for good measure!
21. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air is writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer’s terrifying tale of the May 1996 Mt. Everest catastrophe, which claimed the lives of eight people and left many more with haunting memories and remorse. Krakauer answers many of the disaster’s difficult concerns in this honest and thorough account of the incidents and interactions that led to the catastrophe while presenting a fair view of the individuals involved—including appropriate credit to the expedition’s loyal Sherpas.
While illustrating his studied assertions to back his evaluations of some of the more heated debates that occurred throughout this failed summit endeavor, Krakauer maintains a particular humility.
22. Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Arlene Blum
This book, initially published in 1984, is the first description of climbing from the perspective of a woman. This is the tale of thirteen ladies who set out from San Francisco for the Nepal Himalayas to become the first Americans and women to summit Annapurna, the world’s tenth highest mountain. Arlene Blum, the expedition’s leader, narrates their terrible yet uplifting narrative. Blum describes their difficult trek with a blend of wit, honesty, and emotion.
23. Hangdog Days by Jeff Smoot
This freshly published book recounts climbing history through the eyes of Jeff Smoot, an author and climber in the 1980s. The tale begins with a brief overview of climbing history before diving into rich and exciting first-person descriptions of Smoot’s dirtbag years and the quest for 5.14. Climbing ethics and style have developed from the beginning of time, and Smoot does an excellent job of having the reader rethink their personal climbing ethics and ponder whatever the future brings for our crags.
This one’s for you if you enjoy reading about the history of individual climbs or geeking out over Yosemite/Joshua Tree/Smith Rock.
24. The Impossible Climb by Mark Synnott
When Alex Honnold free soloed El Cap in 2017, writer Mark Synnott was among a tiny handful of people who understood the climb was solid the moment it happened. As a National Geographic journalist, Synnott watched and covered Honnold in the months and years leading up to his free solo. Impossible Climb takes readers into the small group of high climbers and explains how Honnold’s renowned free solo began years before the ascent itself.
This one’s for you if you want to learn about some of America’s best climbers and all the controversial details.
25. The Mountain of My Fear by David Roberts
The Mountain of My Fear is David Roberts‘ description of his journey up Mount Huntington’s Harvard Route in Alaska. They had gone on the climbing trip as a group of four, but only two of them returned.
David Robert, who occurred to be among the two who returned from the Mount Huntington trip, put his emotion into writing in that condition of emotional instability. “The Mountain of My Fear” was the consequence.
The work was written with unrivaled knowledge and is completely uncensored.
26. How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi
This is an excellent book for adolescent and youth climbers. It focuses on tenacity and provides practical climbing problem-solving strategies, linking these to more general circumstances, making “How to Solve a Problem” an outstanding and useful life travel guide for young readers and climbers.
Readers will enjoy the book as much as they will learn from it. This is a climbing book that young climbers will enjoy.
27. Mastermind: Mental Training for Climbers by Jerry Moffatt
The intellect is the most important instrument a climber can have. Making the most out of your ability and tactics while climbing under pressure is all about harnessing the power of the mind and using it to its maximum capacity.
In this book, Jerry Moffatt, another of the best climbers of all times, leads readers on a journey to discover and maximize their mental potential.
Mastermind also includes moving stories from climbing luminaries like Chris Sharma, Alex Megos, Adam Ondra, and Margo Hayes, who share the innermost ideas that drove them to keep going even when they were under duress and perform at their best.
28. Revelations by Jerry Moffatt
Jerry Moffatt has written yet another fantastic climbing book. Revelations follow a youthful Moffatt in the initial days of rock climbing, his ascent to popularity, and his fight through career-threatening injuries to stay one of the sport’s finest climbers for more than two decades.
In short, Revelations is a rigorous yet humorous description of the climbing world with all of its hazards, adventure, and glory, as well as an intimate glimpse into the ascending life of a real climbing legend.
29. The Games Climbers Play by Ken Wilson
“The Games Climbers Play” is a collection of articles, tales, and poetry by a variety of authors that explore the fast-paced lifestyle of rock climbers and mountaineers.
It was initially published in 1978 and has been reprinted six times, demonstrating its success and appeal.
The stories in “Games Climbers Play” include a dash of light-hearted comedy while mingling with several political and intellectual tracts and are illustrated by Sheridan Anderson’s drawings to give readers a comprehensive image of the ascending game.
30. Space Below My Feet by Gwen Moffat
This is the narrative of Gwen Moffat’s journey across the highlands after leaving the Army.
She goes into full survival mode with nothing more than a rope and a few stuff in her bag, hitchhiking her way through Skye to Chamonix and basically surviving on nothing.
“Space Below My Feet” chronicles her climbing exploits and her fight to become Britain’s premier female mountaineer and the first certified woman to work as a mountain guide.