For me personally, I've never been a very good climber, but I've always been fascinated by those who do it well. Two jobs ago, I had the opportunity to work with brands like Edelrid and Petzl. I even got to meet world-famous climber, Tommy Caldwell. Having those experiences really expanded my appreciation for the sport. Unfortunately, I'm kind of shut out of the mountains here in Minnesota, and while the occasional opportunity to go bouldering pops up, it's not the same as when I previously lived out West.
Today, reading about the sport and watching documentaries keeps me in touch with the sport. The nine books below were all really cool in their own ways, and while I could've picked nine books about climbing Everest (I've read a bunch), I tried to diversify the list.
Enjoy the picks and keep climbing.
The Best Climbing Books
"Extreme Alpinism" by Mark Twight
One of the most renowned authors in the realm of rock climbing literature, Mark Twight's "Extreme Alpinism" is a masterpiece that transcends the boundaries of conventional guidebooks. Twight's analytical approach and attention to detail make this book a must-read for any climber seeking to push their limits. By analyzing the psychological and physical aspects of extreme climbing, Twight offers invaluable insights into the mindset and preparation required for tackling daring ascents.
"Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson
If you crave gripping narratives that transport you to the heart of a climbing adventure, "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson is a true gem. This captivating memoir recounts Simpson's harrowing tale of survival after a disastrous climb in the Peruvian Andes. The book's storytelling prowess, combined with Simpson's vivid descriptions and emotional depth, immerses readers in the world of mountaineering, where determination and resilience are pushed to their limits.
"Training for Climbing" by Eric J. Horst
For those aspiring to enhance their climbing skills and reach new heights, "Training for Climbing" by Eric J. Horst is an indispensable resource. This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of climbing training, including strength development, technique refinement, mental preparation, and injury prevention. Horst's analytical perspective and practical advice make this book a valuable companion for climbers of all levels, helping them optimize their performance and achieve their goals. This is part of a 33 book series on various elements of climbing.
"Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills" by Topher Donahue and Craig Luebben
Perfect for beginners eager to embark on their rock climbing journey, "Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills" is a trusted instructional guide. The book covers fundamental techniques, safety protocols, and equipment essentials in a clear and accessible manner. Donahue and Luebben's emphasis on building a solid foundation and their user-friendly approach make this book an excellent starting point for novice climbers, allowing them to learn and progress with confidence.
"Alone on the Wall" by Alex Honnold and David Roberts
If you're fascinated by the realm of free solo climbing, "Alone on the Wall" is a captivating memoir that will leave you breathless. Co-authored by the legendary Alex Honnold and acclaimed writer David Roberts, this book chronicles Honnold's awe-inspiring achievements, including his famous ascent of El Capitan without ropes. Honnold's introspective reflections, combined with Roberts' narrative finesse, provide a unique window into the mind of a free soloist and the challenges they face.
"No Summit out of Sight" by Jordan Romero
Jordan Romero climbed Mount Everest at 13 years of age. 13! Two years later, he had summited the tallest peaks on all seven continents. This story is both remarkable and incredibly honest about the challenges of doing all of this at such a young age. From fatigue to being homesick, I enjoy stories like this that go behind the scenes and headlines and into the mind of an extraordinary young man.
"The Push" by Tommy Caldwell
Caldwell and his climbing partner, Kevin Jorgeson, climb Yosemite's 3,000 foot Dawn Wall over a 19-day period. While that made headlines, this book goes back into Caldwell's past, from his crazy father growing up to being held hostage in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Through it all, Caldwell finds his purpose through a deeper connection to family and nature.
"The Last of His Kind" by David Roberts
Roberts is a legendary author when it comes to mountaineering, and he puts it all on display in this biography about his friend, Bradford Washburn. While most know Washburn for his climbs, he was also an adept cartographer and surveyor, and he was able to produce maps of many areas that were previously unexplored.
"Fifty Places to Rock Climb Before You Die" by Chris Santella
This is a little different than the other books on this list. If you're in need of a coffee table centerpiece or a great gift for the climber in your life, I'd check this book out. The photography is fantastic, and while most of us don't have unlimited airline miles to fly around the world and climb, it's inspirational none the less.
A couple weeks ago, I watched The Alpinist, which is a documentary about legendary Canadian climber, Marc-Andre Leclerc. I was really moved by the film because of Marc-Andre's incredible ability to live in the moment and the joy by which he went about his days. While I couldn't fathom doing anything remotely close to what he was doing, he was one of those guys that genuinely seemed to make the world a better place by leveraging his talents. To anyone who knew Marc-Andre, know that he had an impact on people around the world that never met him. May he rest in peace.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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