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Climbing and Mountaineering Books

Over the last year, I have become more interested in books on mountain climbing; the combination of determination, risk-taking, and sometimes almost hallucinatory descriptions of the climbs bring back my memories from high school of our wilderness trips into the Cascades.  The books on this page represent some of the more interesting books in this area that I've read or that I have purchased and have yet to find time to read; they are listed in order by author. Those that I recommend over others have an asterisk (***) after the author's name.

In order to provide a quicker response when loading this page, cover photos are not included.  I do, however, find the cover art interesting to look at so, if you want to see the covers, click here; it will take roughly one minute to download at 56kpbs.

bulletThe American Alpine Literary Award was established by the American Alpine Club to recognize excellence in alpine literature by American writers.
bulletThe Boardman Tasker Memorial Award for Mountain Literature was established in 1984 in honor of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker who disappeared on Everest in 1982.
bulletThe Banff Mountain Book Festival Awards were established in 1994 to recognize the best books across many different categories including expedition accounts, fiction, photography and more.
bulletThe National Outdoor Book Awards include mountaineering and rock climbing books as well as categories including children's literature.


Book Title, Author & Description

This table lists the mountain climbing books that we have enjoyed reading over the last few years -- or that we plan to read soon.  In most cases, these are among the best-written of these books and tell a more unique story. I have included my thumbnail reviews on a separate page for several of these books that are so marked. In general, these books are sorted by the mountains that are climbed and/or described in each book. There are some exceptions to this rule:

bulletGenerally, where several mountains are climbed, I have only listed the book against the peaks where there was more focus.
bulletIf you're interested in the seven summits or the 8,000 meter peaks, I have one part of the table that includes those anthologies since they cross so many mountains.
bulletThere is a section for collections and biographies that span many years and climbs.
bulletTo purchase any of these books from, click on the title. For a complete list sorted by author and with cover photos, click here.
Mountain/Range Title and Author
bullet Aconcagua: A Climbing Guide; R.J. Secor
bullet Aconcagua: The Stone Sentinel. Perspectives of an Expedition; Thomas E. Taplin
(Eiger et al)
bullet Eiger: The Vertical Arena; Daniel Anker
bullet White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger; Heinrich Harrer  Read Review
bullet Starlight and Storm; Gaston Rebuffat
bullet Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna; Lionel Terray  Read Review
bullet Touching the Void: The Harrowing First Person Account Of One Man's Miraculous Survival; Joe Simpson  My Review 
bullet Annapurna: A Woman's Place; Arlene Blum
bullet Annapurna, First Conquest of an 8,000 Meter Peak; Maurice Herzog
bullet True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna; David Roberts
bullet Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna; Lionel Terray  Read Review
Broad Peak
bullet Thin Air: Encounters in the Himalayas; Greg Child  Read Review
bullet The Boardman Tasker Omnibus: The Shining Mountain and Savage Arena; Joe Tasker, Peter Boardman  Read Review
bullet Chris Bonington's Everest; Chris Bonington
bullet Climbing Everest: A Meditation on Mountaineering and the Spirit of Adventure; Pat Ament
bullet The Boardman Tasker Omnibus: Everest The Cruel Way; Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker  Read Review
bullet High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places; David Breashars  Read Review

Everest: Mountain Without Mercy; Broughton Coburn


Fragile Edge: A Personal Portrait of Loss on Everest; Maria Coffey, Chris Bonington  Read Review


The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm; Matt Dickinson, Philip Turner  Read Review


Chomolungma Sings the Blues: Travels Around Everest; Ed Douglas


Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine; Jochen Hemmleb


Everest: The West Ridge; Thomas F. Hornbein  Read Review


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster; Jon Krakauer  Read Review

bullet The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt
bullet The Crystal Horizon: Everest-The First Solo Ascent; Reinhold Messner  Read Review
bullet The Everest Years; Chris Bonington

Touching My Father's Soul: A Sherpa's Journey To The Top Of Everest; Jamling Tenzing Norgay  Read Review


Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering; Sherry Ortner


Everest: Alone at the Summit; Steven Venables

bullet Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest; Ed Webster


bullet National Geographic's Surviving Everest: The Collector's Edition
bullet Everest: The IMAX video from 1996 described in David Breashar's book High Exposure.
bullet Thin Air: Encounters in the Himalayas; Greg Child  Read Review
Gauri Sankar
bullet The Boardman Tasker Omnibus: Sacred Summits; Peter Boardman   Read Review
bullet K2: Triumph and Tragedy; Jim Curran  Read Review
bullet The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus: The Endless Knot; Kurt Diemberger
bullet Five Miles High: The Story of an Attack on the Second Highest Mountain in the World by the Members of the First American Karakoram Expedition; Richard L. House, Charles Houston, Robert Bates, Will Burdsall
bullet K2: The Savage Mountain; Charles Houston
bullet K2: One Woman's Quest for the Summit; Heidi Howkins
bullet K2: Challenging the Sky; Roberto Mantovani, Kurt Diemberger
bullet The Last Step: The American Ascent of K2; Rick Ridgeway  Read Review
bullet The Boardman Tasker Omnibus: Savage Arena;Joe Tasker  Read Review
bulletSavage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women who climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain by Jennifer Jordan
bullet The Boardman Tasker Omnibus: Savage Arena and Sacred Summits; Joe Tasker, Peter Boardman  Read Review
Kishtwar Shivling
bullet Lost Mountains: Climbs in the Himalayas; Stephen Venables 
bullet The Flame of Adventure by Simon Yates
McKinley / Denali
bullet Denali: The Complete Guide by Bill Sherwonit
bullet Denali: Deception, Defeat, & Triumph: To the Top of the Continent / Conquest of Mount McKinley / The Ascent of Denali by Art Davidson, Belmore Brown, Hudson Stuck
bullet Denali Guidebook to Hiking, Photography, and Camping in Denali National Park, Alaska by Ike Waits
bullet Denali's West Buttress: A Climber's Guide to Mount McKinley's Classic Route by Colby Coombs, Bradford Washburn
bullet Desire & Ice: A Search for Perspective Atop Denali by David Brill
bullet Discovering Denali: A Complete Reference Guide to Denali National Park and Mount McKinley, Alaska by Dow Scoggins
bullet In the Shadow of Denali: Life and Death on Alaska's Mt. McKinley; Greg Child, Jonathan Waterman
bullet Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mt. McKinley; Art Davidson
bullet Mount McKinley: The Conquest of Denali; Bradford Washburn
Minya Konka
bullet Below Another Sky: A Mountain Adventure in Search of a Lost Father; Rick Ridgeway
Nanda Devi
bullet Fatal Mountaineer: The High-Altitude Life and Death of Willi Unsoeld, American Himalayan Legend; Robert Roper
bullet Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition; John Roskelley  Read Review
bullet Nanda Devi: Exploration and Ascent; Eric Shipton
Nanga Parbat
bullet Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge; Hermann Buhl
North America
(Alaska, Rockies, Yosemite)
bullet Defying Gravity: High Adventure on Yosemite's Walls; Gary Arce, Royal Robbins
bullet The Mountain of My Fear & Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative; David Roberts
bullet Escape from Lucania: An Epic Story of Survival; David Roberts  Read Review
bullet Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber by Steve Roper
Panch Chuli
bullet A Slender Thread: Escaping Disaster In The Himalayas; Steven Venables  Read Review
bullet Dark Shadows Falling; Joe Simpson  Read Review
Rimo III
bullet Lost Mountains: Climbs in the Himalayas; Stephen Venables 
Sepu Kangri
bullet Tibet's Secret Mountain: The Triumph of Sepu Kangri; Chris Bonington and Charles Clarke
Shisha Pangma
bullet Shisha Pangma: The Alpine Style First Ascent of the Southwest Face; Doug Scott, Alex MacIntyre Read Review
Seven Summits
8,000 Meters
bullet Seven Summits;Dick Bass
bullet My Vertical World: Climbing the 8,000 Meter Peaks; Jerzy Kukuczka, et al
bullet All Fourteen 8,000ers; Reinhold Messner
Collections of Stories
bullet Rocky Horrors, Frozen Smiles: A Mountaineer At The End Of His Rope; Peter Austen
bullet The Burgess Book of Lies; Adrian Burgess and Alan Burgess
bullet Mixed Emotions: Mountaineering Writings of GregChild; Greg Child  Read Review
bullet Postcards from the Ledge: Collected Mountaineering Writings of Greg Child; Greg Child  Read Review
bullet Stone Palaces; Geoffrey Childs
bullet Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains; Jon Krakauer  Read Review
bullet Gorilla Monsoon; John Long  Read Review
bullet Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hang Dogs: Rock Climbing on the Edge of Reality; John Long  Read Review
bullet The Games Climbers Play; Jim Perrin
bullet Mirrors in the Cliffs (Games Climbers Play, Vol. 2); Jim Perrin
bullet Moments of Doubt And Other Mountaineering Writings; David Roberts
bullet Stories Off the Wall; John Roskelley
bullet World Mountaineering: The World's Great Mountains by the World's Great Mountaineers; Audrey Salkeld
bullet Sherman Exposed: Slightly Censored Climbing Stories; John Sherman  Read Review
bullet Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber; Mark Twight   Read Review
bullet The Mountains of My Life; Walter Bonatti
bullet Boundless Horizons: The Autobiography of Chris Bonington; Chris Bonington  Read Review
bullet Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna; Lionel Terray  Read Review
bullet The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus: Summits and Secrets; The Endless Knot; Spirits Of The Air; Kurt Diemberger
bullet Regions of the Heart: The Triumph and Tragedy of Alison Hargreaves; David Rose
bullet The Middle-Aged Mountaineer by Jim Curran
(Plus narrative)
bullet Bradford Washburn: Mountain Photography Read Review
bullet Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing on the World's Greatest Peaks; Chris Bonington
bullet K2: Challenging the Sky; Roberto Mantovani, Kurt Diemberger
bullet Himalayan Climber: A Lifetime's Quest to the World's Greater Ranges; Doug Scott, Ken Wilson
bullet Mount McKinley: The Conquest of Denali; Bradford Washburn
bullet Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest; Ed Webster


For other books on our lists of recommended books, follow the links below.
bulletOur Current Book List. The list of books on our current reading list.
bulletMountain Climbing and Outdoor Adventures with the cover graphics.
bullet Books on Wine Appreciation and Winemaking.
bulletChildren's Books that our boys or their cousins are reading. Click here for the Seattle Children's Theatre recommended booklist.
bulletHistory Books that relate to our family history or that we have enjoyed.
bulletOther Books that we are waiting to categorize.
bulletReturn to TheRagens Books homepage.


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