7 Best Books About Climbing

There’s noth­ing like a badass sto­ry about a badass climb to make you want to chalk up some rock, or head into the moun­tains and spend some alone time. When you’re look­ing for that per­fect book to lounge in your ham­mock and read, these titles are def­i­nite­ly a good place to start:

ClimbingBooks2Touch­ing the Void
By Joe Simp­son
The book behind the awe­some award-win­ning film of the same name, Touch­ing the Void nev­er gets old. It fol­lows the sto­ry of author Joe Simp­son and his friend Simon Yates’ ulti­mate­ly suc­cess­ful­ly but, frankly, dis­as­trous, attempt to sum­mit Siu­la Grande in the Peru­vian Andes. Spoil­er alert: there’s a sit­u­a­tion where Yates has to cut the rope and let Simp­son fall 150 feet and, nat­u­ral­ly, takes him for dead, but he’s not. Touch­ing the Void tells the sto­ry of how Simp­son sur­vived.

ClimbingBooks3The White Spi­der: The Sto­ry of the North Face of the Eiger
By Hein­rich Har­rer
Hein­rich Har­rer, author of Sev­en Years in Tibet and moun­taineer, was part of the crew that con­quered the North Face of Eiger in 1938. He detailed his account of the land­mark adventure—complete with incred­i­ble details of the treach­er­ous con­di­tions and just how men­tal­ly, let alone phys­i­cal­ly, dif­fi­cult the expe­di­tion was—in The White Spi­der. Even in the years since its orig­i­nal 1959 pub­li­ca­tion, it’s still a must-read. 

ClimbingBooks4Into Thin Air: A Per­son­al Account of the Mt. Ever­est Dis­as­ter
By Jon Krakauer
Even though there’s been some con­tro­ver­sy about the book as to whether every­thing Jon Krakauer details is com­plete­ly accu­rate, Into Thin Air is still an incred­i­ble, albeit ter­ri­bly trag­ic read. Spoil­er: eight peo­ple die on the expe­di­tion, includ­ing Krakauer’s guides, and sev­er­al oth­ers are strand­ed by a storm. Even with that knowl­edge, it’s still an awe­some read.

ClimbingBooks5No Pic­nic on Mt. Kenya
By Felice Benuzzi
In Jan­u­ary 1943, three detained pris­on­ers of war, Felice Benuzzi, Dr. Gio­van­ni Bel­let­to and Vin­cen­zo Bar­sot­ti escaped from a P.O.W. Camp in Kenya and climbed Mt. Kenya with impro­vised sup­plies and very lit­tle food. And then, after two of them reached the top, all three of them broke back into the P.O.W. Camp. Benuzzi details the expe­di­tion and the rea­sons behind it (bore­dom) in No Pic­nic on Mt. Kenya.

ClimbingBooks6Con­quis­ta­dors of the Use­less
By Lionel Ter­ray
Lionel Terray’s clas­sic auto­bi­og­ra­phy may very well fea­ture the best title of all time: Con­quis­ta­dors of the Use­less. In it, Ter­ray tells of his first ascents in the Alps, Alas­ka, Patag­o­nia, Anna­pur­na and more, all of which took place just after WWII, a time when Terray’s home coun­try, France, severe­ly need­ed a morale boost. 

ClimbingBooks7My Climbs in the Alps and the Cau­ca­sus
By Albert Mum­mery
If you can get your hands on an ear­ly edi­tion of this book, you absolute­ly should. First pub­lished in 1895, My Climbs in the Alps and the Cau­ca­sus details Albert Mummery’s, well, climbs in the Alps and the Cau­ca­sus. It’s def­i­nite­ly worth the read, espe­cial­ly since Mum­mery is a real­ly excel­lent sto­ry­teller.

ClimbingBooks8Ever­est: The West Ridge
By Thomas Horn­bein
A grip­ping account of the first ascent of Everest’s West Ridge, Thomas Hornbein’s book is one you won’t be able to put down. When he and Willi Unsoeld sum­mit­ed the peak, they became the first to do so—an achieve­ment clear­ly spelled out in the pages of this book.