Five Books About Badass Female Climbers

Oprah might have missed these sto­ries about badass female climbers, but they’re clas­sics in the world of adventure.

annapurna_200Anna­pur­na: 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.

womendare_300 copyWomen 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.

highinfatuation_300 copyHigh 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.

climbingfree_200Climb­ing 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.

womenhigh_200Women 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.