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100 Best Mountaineering Books

Chessler's 100 Best Books

We are often asked to recommend a good mountaineering book to read, help select as a gift, or for books worth collecting. We started this as a list of the 100 'best' mountaineering books for readers and collectors, but due to input from many collectors, have added sections on the best guidebooks, picture books, prize winners, etc. We update this list occasionally to reflect excellent new books, and waning interest in some older books.

The lists are based on several different factors including quality of the writing, importance of the climbs, reputation of the author, quality of the photos or printing, influence on other climbers, etc.

We usually have most of these books for sale, although most are out of print. Check our website for these titles, but if you can't find a title listed, e-mail us at, or phone us at 303 670-0093, and we will tell you what is in stock for any title.

100 Best Mountaineering Books

Barker. The Last Blue Mountain
Bass. Seven Summits
Bates. Five Miles High
Beckey. Challenge of the North Cascades
Benuzzi. No Picnic on Mount Kenya
Blum. Annapurna: A Woman's Place
Boardman. Sacred Summits
Boardman. The Shining Mountain
Bonatti. On The Heights
Bonington. Annapurna South Face
Bowman. The Ascent of Rum Doodle
Brown. The Hard Years
Bruce. Twenty Years in the Himalaya
Buhl. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
Burdsall. Men Against The Clouds
Chouinard. Climbing Ice [also a technique book]
Clinch. A Walk in the Sky [Gasherbrum I]
Coleman. Canadian Rockies, New and Old Trails
Collie. Climbing on the Himalaya
Cunningham & Abney. The Pioneers of the Alps [also a picture book]
Davidson. Minus 148
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets
Du Faur. The Conquest of Mount Cook
Dunn. The Shameless Diary of an Explorer [Denali]
Eckenstein. Karakoram and Kashmir
Ferlet. Aconcagua South Face
Filippi. The Ascent of Mount St Elias [also a picture book]
Filippi. Karakoram and Western Himalaya [also a picture book]
Filippi. Ruwenzori [also a picture book]
Fitzgerald. The Highest Andes
Forbes. Travels Through the Alps of Savoy
Freshfield. The Exploration of the Caucasus
Gillman. Everest 80 Years of Triumph and Tragedy [also a photo book]
Gillman. Eiger Direct or Direttissima
Greig. Summit Fever
Harding. Downward Bound
Harper. Pioneer Work in the Alps of New Zealand
Harrer. The White Spider
Harrer. Seven Years in Tibet [best selling book in 1950s]
Harrer, I Come From The Stone Age [Carstenz]
Hauser. White Mountain and Tawny Plain [Andes]
Heim & Gansser. The Throne of the Gods
Herzog. Annapurna [best selling Mountaineering book of all time]
Hillary.  View From The Summit
Hornbein. Everest The West Ridge [also a photo book]
Houston & Bates. K2 The Savage Mountain
Jones. Climbing in North America
King. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Huayhuash [also a photo book]
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Blanca [also a photo book]
Krakauer. Into Thin Air [1997 Everest best seller]
Kugy. Alpine Pilgrimage
Languepin. To Kiss High Heaven [Nanda Devi]
Lukan. The Alps and Alpinism [also a photo book]
MacInnes. Climb to the Lost World
Manning. Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills [best selling technique book]
Maraini. Karakoram
Maraini. Where Four Worlds Meet [Hindu Kush]
McLewin. In Monte Viso's Horizon [Alps]
Messner. All Fourteen Eight-Thousanders [also photo book]
Messner. Everest Expedition To The Ultimate
Messner. Solo Nanga Parbat
Miller & Manning. The North Cascades [mostly a photo book]
Muir. The Mountains of California
Muir. My First Summer in the Sierra
Mummery. My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus
Murray. Mountaineering in Scotland
Murray. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Newby. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Norman-Neruda. The Climbs of Norman-Neruda
Norton. The Fight For Everest 1924 [Mallory story]
Noyce. Climbing the Fishes Tail
Noyce. South Col [Everest]
Patey. One Man's Mountains
Pause. Extreme Alpine Rock [best Alpine climbs, also a guidebook]
Pilley. Climbing Days  [Early Women's Climbing]
Radcliffe. Land of Mountains: New Zealand [also a photo book]
Rebuffat. Mont Blanc: The 100 Finest Routes [also a guidebook]
Rebuffat. Starlight and Storm 
Ridgeway. The Last Step [1st American ascent of K2]
Roberts. The Mountain of My Fear [Alaska climb]
Roberts. Deborah [Alaska climb]
Roper & Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America [also a guidebook]
Rowell. In The Throne Room of the Mountain Gods [K2 climb]
Rowell. The Vertical World of Yosemite [also a photo book]
Salter. Solo Faces [fiction]
Sayre. Four Against Everest
Scott. Big Wall Climbing [also a technique book]
Shipton. Blank on the Map [Karakoram exploration classic]
Shipton. Nanda Devi [1930 Himalayan climbing classic]
Simpson. Touching the Void [Gripping 1980s best seller]
Smythe. Camp Six [Everest classic]
Smythe. Climbs and Ski Runs
Steinitzer. Der Alpinismus in Bildern [also a picture book]
Stephen. The Playground of Europe [19th century best seller]
Stuck. The Ascent of Denali [Denali 1st ascent]
Tasker. Everest The Cruel Way [Everest in Winter]
Tasker. The Savage Arena
Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless
Thorington. The Glittering Mountains of Canada
Tilman. The Ascent of Nanda Devi  [First Ascent]
Tilman. Snow on the Equator  [Kili, Kenya}
Venables. Everest The Kangshung Face  [Extreme new route]
Venables. Everest Summit of Achievement [also a photo and Everest book]
Waller. The Everlasting Hills
Whymper. Scrambles Amongst The Alps [Matterhorn 1st ascent. 19th century bestseller]
Whymper. Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator {Chimborazo & Cotopaxy first ascents]
Wills. Wanderings Among the High Alps
Yoshizawa. Mountaineering Maps of the World. 2 Vols [excellent maps]
Young. Mountaincraft [1st bestselling technique book, every edition different]


Criteria include 'classics', importance to an area's history, best efforts from homegrown writers, humor, early use of the Yosemite Decimal System, topo charts or other innovation, controversy, or if they made some other mark on guidebook history.

Randall. Mount McKinley Climber's Handbook. 1984
Waterman. High Alaska. 1992 [Classic]

Lovejoy. Granite Mountain. 1973
Toula. A Cheap Way to Fly. 1986

Brower. Climbers Guide to the Sierra Nevada: Preliminary edition. 1949. [First Sierra Nevada guidebook attempt].
Hammack. Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument. 1955
Kroll. San Luis Obispo Happy Climbs. 1978 [Best Title]
Leonard. Mountain Records of the Sierra Nevada. 1937
Meyers. Yosemite Climbs, Topo Drawings. 1976 [1st popular Yosemite topo guide]
Nicol. Rock Climbs in Yosemite, Topo Drawings. 1974 [First Topos of Yosemite]
Roper. Climbers Guide to Yosemite Valley. 1964 [First stand alone Yosemite Guide]
Tucker. Climbing in Santa Barbara & Ventura. 1981
Voge & Smatko. Mountaineer's Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1972. [Controversial Smatko first ascents]
Voge. Climbers Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1954. [First true Sierra Nevada guide]
Vogel. Joshua Tree Rock Climbing. 1986 [Most routes of any guidebook, 4000+]
White, etc. Crags & Boulders of San Diego Co. 1978
Wilts. Climber's Guide to Tahquitz Rock. 1956 [First use of the Yosemite Decimal System YDS ]
Wolfe. Climber's Guide to Joshua Tree. 1970 [First JT guide]

Ament & McCarty. High Over Boulder. 1967. [A Boulder classic]
Bornemann & Lampert. Climbing Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners. 1978 [Started fourteener craze]
Dornan. Rock Climbing Guide to Boulder CO Area. 1961 [First published Boulder Guide]
Erickson. Rocky Heights, Guide to Boulder Free Climbs. 1980
Hart. Fourteen Thousand Feet, [1972, 2nd ed pub with Kingery A Climber's Guide to the High Colorado Peaks.]
Lavender. San Juan Mtrs Climber's Guide to SW Colorado. 1932
Nesbit. Longs Peak, Its Story and a Guide for Climbing It. 1946-1990s
Ormes. Guide to the Colorado Mountains. 1952
Rossiter. Boulder Topographics, Pictorial Guide to Boulder. 1981 (First CO topo guide)
Toll. Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park. 1921
Toll. The Mountain Peaks of Colorado. 1923

Nichols. Traprock. 1982 [largest  east coast guidebook]
Reppy & Streibert. Climbing Guide to Ragged Mountain. 1964

Koloctoronis. Guide to Mississippi Palisades. 1965

Anonymous [LaForge]. Boston Rolls. 1987 [Pornographic]

Swenson. Climber's Guide to Taylor's Falls. 1972

New Hampshire
AMC. White Mountain Guide. 1907-2004
Peterson. Climber's Guide to Cannon Cliff. 1972 [First guidebook to use topo drawings].
Wilcox. An Ice Climbers Guide to Northern New England. 1982
Webster. Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 1982

New York
Goodwin. Climbs in the Adirondacks. 1938
Gran. Climber's Guide to the Shawangunks. 1964 [Classic]
Swain. The Gunks Guide. 1986

North Carolina
Price. Carolinas Climber's Guide, 2nd ed, 1977. [Most Illiterate Guide]

Watts. Climber's Guide to Smith Rock. 1992 [hot sport climbing area]

South Dakota
Conn. Rock Climbs in the Needles, Black Hills, SD. c.1950

Beckey. Climber's Guide to the Cascade & Olympic Mountains of WA. 1949 [A classic]
Whitelaw. Private Dancer [Static Point]. 1985

Hermacinski. Extremist's Guide to Devil's Lake, New Climbs. 1985 [Controversial, vulgar]
Morris. Climber's Guide to Devil's Lake. c. 1969
Wiegand. Climber's & Fisherman's Guide to Gibraltar Rock. 1971

Bonney & Bonney. Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas. 1960
Coulter & McLane. Mountain Climbing Guide to the Grand Tetons. 1947 [Early classic]
Fryxell. The Teton Peaks and Their Ascents. 1932 [First teton guide]
Ortenburger. Climber's Guide to the Teton Range. 1956 [First modern Teton guide]
Ortenburger. Climber's Guide to the Teton Range, 2nd ed. 1965 [Best Teton guide ever]

Regional U.S.A.
Harlin. Climber's Guide to North America, [3 Vols: East Coast; Rocky Mountains; West Coast.]
Roper & Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. 1979 [Very influential, started the best climbs craze, climbing any set of peaks on a list]
Sherman. Stone Crusade: Historical Guide to Bouldering. 1994. [First proper recognition of bouldering]
Toula. Rock 'N Road: Rock Climbing Areas of North America. 1995 [Most climbing complete area list]
Vogler. Les Etats Unis: Les Plus Belles Escalades. 1984 [Excellent photo guide to USA climbs]

Culbert. Climber's Guide to the Coastal Ranges of BC. 1965
Palmer & Thorington. Climber's Guide to the Rocky Mts of Canada. 1921
Putnam. Climber's Guide to the Interior Ranges of Canada. 1937
Wheeler. The Selkirk Mountains: A Guide for Mountain Climbers and Pilgrims. 1912


Criteria includes artistic caliber, printing quality,comprehensive documentation and reference value.
Bartlett. Desert Towers
Bonatti. Magic of Mont Blanc
Bonington. Chris Bonington Mountaineer
Buscaini. Patagonia: Dreamland for Climbers and Tourists [Italian or German]
Dumler. The High Mountains of the Alps
Edlinger. Rock Games [Hard USA rock climbs]
Garden. Bugaboos
Garden. Selkirks
Gildea. Mountaineering In Antarctica
Kazami. Premier Peaks of the World
Meyers. Yosemite Climber
Morse. Mountains of Canada
Morse. Canada The Mountains
Ohmori. Over the Himalaya
Perren. Matterhorn
Reader. Kilimanjaro
Reader. Mt Kenya
Scott. Himalayan Climber
Shirahata. Nepal Himalaya
Shirahata. Karakoram
Shirahata. The Alps
Sicouri. Forbidden Mountains
Washburn & Roberts. Mount McKinley: The Conquest of Denali

These are the books that are most useful for the average person seeking facts on mountaineering books.
Alpine Club. Catalogue of the Library [1000s of climbing books in all languages]
Arctic Bibliography [3 vols]
Baume. Sivalaya [8000 m peaks 1st and early ascents]
Bent. A Bibliography of the White Mountains
Brown. The First Ascent of Mont Blanc
Coolidge. Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books
Kimes. John Muir: A Reading Bibliography
Mathews. Annals of Mont Blanc
Meckly. Mont Blanc The Early Years
Neate. Mountaineering Literature [First good bibliography for mountaineering book collecting]
Neate. Mountaineering and Its Literature [Much more complete 2nd edition of above]
Neate. Mountaineering in the Andes [Guide to climbs and books, articles]
Neate. High Asia [7000 meter peak climbs]
Perret. Guide de Livres Sur La Montagne Et  L'Alpinsime [Mountaineering books, mostly European languages]
Salkeld & Boyle. Climbing Mount Everest [Everest books all languages]
Spence. Antarctic Miscellany
Unsworth. Everest A Mountaineering History [Thorough Everest History]
Yakushi. Catalog of the Himalayan Literature [Himalayan Books all languages incl Japanese]

Criteria for this list is writing and photo quality, plus serious coverage of mountaineering activity. Some people believe the documentation in journals and magazines can be more important than in books. Magazines and Journals are more spontaneous, can be more controversial, are read more widely and are often the first or only appearance of expeditionary accounts and guidebook information.
Alpine Journal UK 1862-present
American Alpine Journal  1929-present
Ascent: Sierra Club 1967-1999
Canadian Alpine Journal 1907-present
Climbing Magazine 1970-present
Himalayan Journal 1029-present
Mountain World 1946-1969
Mountain Magazine 1969-1992
Rock and Ice Magazine 1984-present
Vulgarian Digest [3 issues, 1970s. Set the tone for underground books and magazines]

These are the best books for the first ascents of the 8000 meter peaks.

Everest (8848 m; 29028 ft)
Gregory. Picture of Everest [Photos]
Hunt. The Ascent of Everest [offical account]
Hunt. Our Everest Adventure [Photos]
Hillary. High Adventure [Hillary's 1st book]
Noyce. South Col [best written 1st ascent book]
Tenzing. Tiger of the Snows 
Also see:
Band. Everest 50 Years on top of the World
Gillman. Everest 80 Years of Triumph and Tragedy
Unsworth. Everest
Venables. Everest Summit of Achievment

K2 (8611 m; 28250 ft)
Bonatti. On The Heights
Desio. The Ascent of K2 or Victory Over K2
Bonatti. On The Heights
Lacedelli. K2 The Price of Conquest

Kangchenjunga (8586 m; 28169 ft)
Evans. Kanchenjunga the Untrodden Peak
Brown. The Hard Years

Lhotse (8516 m; 27940 ft)
Eggler. The Everest Lhotse Adventure [Also Everest 2nd ascent]

Makalu (8463 m; 27766 ft)
Franco. Makalu

Dhaulagiri (8167 m; 26795 ft)
Eiselin. The Ascent of Dhaulagiri
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets [also Broad Peak]

Manaslu (8163 m; 26781 ft)
J.A.C. Mansalu 1952-53
J.A.C. Manaslu 1954-56
Yoda. Ascent of Manaslu in Photographs 1952-1956

Cho Oyu (8201 m; 26906 ft)
Tichy. Cho Oyu

Nanga Parbat (8125 m; 26660 ft)
Herrligkoffer. Nanga Parbat
Buhl. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage or Lonely Challenge

Annapurna (8091 m; 26545 ft)
Herzog. Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000 Meter Peak
Herzog. Regards vers Annapurna [Color photos]
Lachenal. Carrnets du Vertigo
Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless

Gasherbrum I (8068 m; 26470 ft)
Clinch. A Walk in the Sky

Broad Peak (8047 m; 26400 ft)
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets [also Dhaulagiri]
Schmuck. Broad Peak, 8047M
Sale, Schmuck, Wintersteller. Broad Peak 2004 [the truth finally comes out]

Shisha Pangma (8046 m; 26397 ft)
A Photographic Record of the Mount Shisha Pangma Expedition
Chinese 1964 expedition, first ascent. In English. 

Gasherbrum II (8035 m; 26360 ft)
Moravec. Weisse Berge, Schwarze Menschen


The Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust trust was established to promote literature by providing an annual award to authors of literary works, the central theme of which is concerned with mountains. The Boardman Tasker Prize is the highest Award a Mountaineering book can get, although there are other prizes given by Book Festivals such as the Banff Book Festival. This list would not be the same of the judges were American instead of British.
We usually have these books in stock.


2020             Jessica J. Lee                Two Trees Make a Forest
2019             Kate Harris                    Lands of Lost Borders
2018             David Roberts                Limits of the Known (USA)
2017             Bernadette MacDonald   The Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka
2016             Simon McCartney           The Bond
2015             Barry Blanchard             The Calling
2014             Julius Lines
                   Tears of the Dawn
2013             Harriet Tuckey 
               Everest The First Ascent. Griffith Pugh
2012             Andy Kirkpatrick
            Cold Wars
2011             Bernadette McDonald
      Freedom Climbers
2010             Ron Fawcett                   Ron Fawcett Rock Athlete
2009             Steve House                  Beyond The Mountain (USA)
2008                 Andy Kirkpatrick                   Psychovertical                 
2007                 Robert Macfarlane               The Wild Places                
2006                 Charles Lind                         An Afterclap Of Fate: Mallory on Everest         
2005                 Andy Cave                            Learning to Breathe
2005                 Jim Perrin                             The Villain: the Life of Don Whillans                                                
2004                 Trevor Braham                    When the Alps Cast Their Spell
2003                 Simon Mawer                       The Fall                              
2002                 Robert Roper                        Fatal Mountaineer  (USA)
2001                 Roger Hubank                      Hazard's Way
2000                 Peter and Leni Gillman        The Wildest Dream

1999                 Paul Pritchard                      The Totem Pole
1998                 Peter Steele                         Eric Shipton, Everest and Beyond
1997                 Paul Pritchard                       Deep Play (1997 Should have been Into Thin Air!)
1996                 Audrey Salkeld                     A Portrait of Leni Riefenstahl
1995                 Alan Hankinson                    Geoffrey Winthrop Young
1994                 Dermot Somers                    At the Rising of the Moon
1993                 Jeff Long                              The Ascent (USA)
1992                 Will McLewin                        In Monte Viso's Horizon
1991                 Alison Fell                             Mer de Glace
1991                 Dave Brown & Ian Mitchell    A View from the Ridge
1990                 Victor Saunders                    Elusive Summits

1989                 M John Harrison                    Climbers
1988                 Joe Simpson                         Touching the Void
1987                 Roger Mear, Robert Swan     In the Footsteps of Scott
1986                 Stephen Venables                 Painted Mountains
1985                 Jim Perrin                              Menlove
1984                 Linda Gill                               Living High
1984                 Doug Scott, Alex MacIntyre    The Shishapangma Expedition

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