Oprah might have missed these stories about badass female climbers, but they’re classics in the world of adventure.
Annapurna: A Woman’s Place (Arlene Blum)
In August 1978, thirteen women traveled from San Francisco to Nepal to make history as the first Americans—and the first women—to scale the treacherous slopes of Annapurna, the world’s tenth highest peak. In Annapurna, expedition leader Arlene Blum tells the dramatic story of their adventures in Nepal: the logistical struggles, intense storms, and hazardous avalanches; the conflicts and reconciliations within the team; and the simple beauty of climbing ice. Despite the tragic ending, this tale of challenge and commitment is told with humor, insight, and unflinching honesty. It remains a classic in the annals of women’s achievements.
Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers (Chris Noble)
In this anthology, twenty of America’s most inspiring female climbers share stories of athleticism, wisdom, and skill. There are how-to suggestions, personal philosophies, and practical tips from women like Lynn Hill, Sasha DiGiulian, Emily Harrington, Kitty Calhoun, and Beth Rodden. Bonus: the full-color photos will make you want to start climbing yesterday.
High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity (Steph Davis)
Steph Davis, arguably one of the most accomplished climbers in the world, has free soloed 5.11, summited all the peaks in the Fitzroy Range, and free climbed El Capitan in a day. She’s also written two books: High Infatuation and Learning to Fly. Both are meditations on the universal themes of love, friendship, and the struggle to craft a life around unfettered truths. She also shares vegan recipes and writes about a dog who knows how to BASE jump.
Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Lynn Hill)
In 1994, Lynn Hill did something that no one—man or woman—had done before: the first “free ascent” of the Nose on Yosemite’s El Capitan. In layman’s terms, that means she climbed 3,000 feet of vertical granite without using gear to aid her ascent—all in less than 23 hours. In Climbing Free, Hill shares the story of her famous climb. She also tells of her youth as a stunt artist in Hollywood, her near-fatal 80-foot fall, her friendships with climbing’s most colorful personalities, and the tragedies and triumphs of her life in the vertical world.
Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering (Rebecca Brown)
If you think that women weren’t involved in the early days of mountaineering, you’re wrong. Women have been exploring the alpine since the early days of climbing; you just haven’t heard of them. In Women on High, Brown chronicles some of the badass women of mountaineering’s early days, and describes the ways that their goals—fulfillment, challenge, and the longing to explore—are every bit as relevant today as they were 200 years ago.