10 Mountaineering Books All Serious Climbers Need To Read
Looking for some mountaineering inspiration? Read these books - before you watch the mountaineering documentary version
Even if you've never been the mountains before, there's something totally encapsulating about an epic tale of adventure, heroism and survival in some of the harshest climates on earth.
We've picked some of the best mountaineering books out there. If films are more your thing, check out our guide to the best mountaineering documentaries.
TOUCHING THE VOID BY JOE SIMPSON
In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates climbed the 6,344m peak Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes – and nearly died on the descent. It's an epic tale of courage and survival that will have you gripped until the very end.
It was made into a hugely popular mountaineering documentary in 2003, but we would definitely recommend reading the book first.
INTO THIN AIR BY JON KRAKAUER
One of the most famous mountaineering disasters happened on Mount Everest in 1996 when eight climbers were killed when a storm closed in during an expedition. Writer Jon Krakauer was on the trip at the time – and wrote his account of the tragedy.
The book gained criticism at the time from fellow mountaineers on the trip about his account of the Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev. Boukreev wrote his own response to Into Thin Air in his book, The Climb.
If you are interested in Everest, you should read this piece on Everest's recently introduced climbing rules or the grizzly truth about the climbers who die on Everest.
NANGA PARBAT PILGRIMAGE BY HERMANN BUHL
Nanga Parbat is the autobiography of Hermann Buhl who climbed Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. It was published just after his climb in 1953 and inspired a whole generation of mountaineers. Some even describe this to be a greater achievement than Hillary and Tenzing's Everest climb.
STARLIGHT AND STORM: THE ASCENT OF THE SIX GREAT NORTH FACES OF THE ALPS BY GASTON RÉBUFFAT
Gaston Rébuffat was the famous Alpine guide who climbed six of the the most treacherous north faces in Europe in the 1950s – the Grand Jorasses, the Piz Badile, the Drus, the Matterhorn, the Cima Grande di Laveredo and the Eiger.
He was known for pushing the limits of what was humanly possible at that time. It was the first time a mountain guide had written about his exploits in such a readable, poetic way.
THE WHITE SPIDER BY HEINRICH HARRER
Harrer writes about two missions to climb the north face of the Eiger – the one in 1935 that ended in tragedy and the successful climb in 1958. It's a harrowing account that captures the history and ordeals of scaling the famous north face.
THE SHINING MOUNTAIN BY PETER BOARDMAN
“It's a preposterous plan. Still, if you do get up it, I think it'll be the hardest thing that's been done in the Himalayas."
These were the words of mountaineer Chris Bonington when he was asked by Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker in 1976 to join them to climb the west wall of Indian mountain Changabang – otherwise known as the Shining Mountain.
It's a funny, readable and honest account of climbing the technically challenging peak which had never been attempted as a two-man lightweight team.
SPACE BELOW MY FEET BY GWEN MOFFAT
She hitch-hiked from Skye to Chamonix with barely more than a climbing rope and a sleeping bag on her – picking up odd jobs along the way from posing as an artist's model to becoming a ship helmswoman.
She tackled some of Europe's toughest climbs and went on to become the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.
A SLENDER THREAD BY STEPHEN VENABLES
While scaling the unclimbed mountain Panch Chuli in the Himalayas, Stephen Venables' abseil failed and he fell, smashing into the rocky mountainside, before finding himself seriously wounded and suspended by his rope above a 50 degree ice field. This is the story about how he survived – with the help of team mate Chris Bonington.
SAVAGE ARENA BY JOE TASKER
Joe Tasker and his climber partner Chris Boardman were known in their day for pushing the boundaries of mountaineering.
Savage Arena details his achievements – including ascending the north face of the Eiger in winter and a new route on Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world and one of the most difficult 8000ers.
Tasker delivered the transcript to his publisher just as he left for an Everest expedition in 1982 - and sadly never returned.
A SHORT WALK IN THE HINDU KUSH BY ERIC NEWBY
Totally inexperienced and underprepared, the pair find themselves on a month-long adventure in one of the most beautiful places on earth, captured in writing with Newby's characteristic wit and sharp observations.