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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 720 560-4963, 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 
Clinch. A Walk in the Sky [Hidden Peak, aka Gasherbrum I]
Coleman. Canadian Rockies, New and Old Trails
Collie. Climbing on the Himalaya
Cunningham & Abney. The Pioneers of the Alps 
Davidson. Minus 148
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets
Du Faur. The Conquest of Mount Cook
Dunn. The Shameless Diary of an Explorer [Denali]
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 
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 
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 
Houston & Bates. K2 The Savage Mountain
Jones. Climbing in North America
King. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Huayhuash 
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Blanca 
Krakauer. Into Thin Air [1997 Everest best seller]
Kugy. Alpine Pilgrimage
Languepin. To Kiss High Heaven [Nanda Devi]
Lukan. The Alps and Alpinism 
MacInnes. Climb to the Lost World
Mountaineers. Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills 
Maraini. Karakoram [Gasherbrum IV]
Maraini. Where Four Worlds Meet [Hindu Kush]
McLewin. In Monte Viso's Horizon [Alps]
Messner. All Fourteen Eight-Thousanders 
Messner. Everest Expedition To The Ultimate
Messner. Solo Nanga Parbat
Miller & Manning. The North Cascades 
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 
Noyce. Climbing the Fishes Tail
Noyce. South Col 
Patey. One Man's Mountains
Pause. Extreme Alpine Rock 
Pilley. Climbing Days  
Radcliffe. Land of Mountains: New Zealand 
Rebuffat. Mont Blanc: The 100 Finest Routes 
Rebuffat. Starlight and Storm 
Ridgeway. The Last Step [1st American ascent of K2]
Roberts. The Mountain of My Fear 
Roberts. Deborah 
Roper & Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America 
Rowell. In The Throne Room of the Mountain Gods 
Rowell. The Vertical World of Yosemite 
Salter. Solo Faces 
Sayre. Four Against Everest
Scott. Big Wall Climbing 
Shipton. Blank on the Map 
Shipton. Nanda Devi
Simpson. Touching the Void
Smythe. Camp Six 
Smythe. Climbs and Ski Runs
Steinitzer. Der Alpinismus in Bildern
Stephen. The Playground of Europe 
Stuck. The Ascent of Denali
Tasker. Everest The Cruel Way
Tasker. The Savage Arena
Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless
Thorington. The Glittering Mountains of Canada
Tilman. The Ascent of Nanda Devi  
Tilman. Snow on the Equator 
Venables. Everest The Kangshung Face  
Venables. Everest Summit of Achievement 
Waller. The Everlasting Hills
Whymper. Scrambles Amongst The Alps 
Whymper. Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator 
Wills. Wanderings Among the High Alps
Yoshizawa. Mountaineering Maps of the World. 2 Vols 
Young. Mountaincraft


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. 
Hammack. Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument. 1955
Kroll. San Luis Obispo Happy Climbs. 1978 
Leonard. Mountain Records of the Sierra Nevada. 1937
Meyers. Yosemite Climbs, Topo Drawings. 1976 
Nicol. Rock Climbs in Yosemite, Topo Drawings. 1974 
Roper. Climbers Guide to Yosemite Valley. 1964 
Tucker. Climbing in Santa Barbara & Ventura. 1981
Voge & Smatko. Mountaineer's Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1972. 
Voge. Climbers Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1954. 
Vogel. Joshua Tree Rock Climbing. 1986 
White, etc. Crags & Boulders of San Diego Co. 1978
Wilts. Climber's Guide to Tahquitz Rock. 1956 
Wolfe. Climber's Guide to Joshua Tree. 1970

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 
Swain. The Gunks Guide. 1986
Salo. Gunks Climbing. 2021 

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
Shirahata. Majestic Splendor: The Canadian Rockies
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
Alpinst  2002 - 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 (1953-69 in English)
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.

When we created this list over twenty years ago, the concept that many people would climb all the fourteen 8000 meter peaks had not yet taken hold. Messner and Kukuczka were enough. As of 2021 44 people have climbed all the 8000 meter peaks, with 6 more in dispute. Plus other goals have been created, like the ''Grand Slam' of Everest and the North and South Pole. As more people are climbing at such a high level, and have similar goals, collecting their books can be an area for collecting.

Other areas of climbing summits on a list are the Seven Summits, which is really Eight. We have had a tab for searching thos books on this website for several years. 
People are also climbing all 50 US State Summits, all the counties of states, and and the highpoints of the 200+ countries of the world. I don't know the status of climbing country summits, but I know people are at work on it. Over 200 persons have climbed the state summits, although the only states that frequently get books of their own are Denali, Rainier and Mt Washington in NH. 

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. 
China Sport Magazine No 4 1964. In English.

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


The Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust trust was established to promote climbing 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 and the Kendal Book Festival. This list would not be the same if the judges were American instead of British.

We usually usually have these books in stock:

Boardman-Tasker Prize Winners:

2023   Katie Brown Unraveled
2022 [tie] Brian Hall    High Risk
2022 [tie] Helen Mort    A Line Above the Sky
2021 David SmartEmilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites
2020         Jessica J. Lee                     Two Trees Make a Forest: On Memory, Migration and Taiwan
2019         Kate Harris                         Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road
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: Two Epic Climbs in Alaska and a Lifetime's Connection Between Climbers
2015         Barry Blanchard                 The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains
2014         Julius Lines
                       Tears of the Dawn
2013         Harriet Tuckey 
                   Everest The First Ascent. The Untold Story of Griffith Pugh, the Man Who Made It Possible
2012         Andy Kirkpatrick
                Cold Wars: Climbing the Fine Line between Risk and Reality
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: The High-Altitude Life and Death of Willi Unsoeld, American Himalayan Legend  
2001           Roger Hubank                      Hazard's Way
2000           Peter and Leni Gillman        The Wildest Dream: Mallory His Life and Conflicting Passions

1999           Paul Pritchard                      The Totem Pole: And a Whole New Adventure
1998           Peter Steele                         Eric Shipton, Everest and Beyond
1997           Paul Pritchard                       Deep Play: A Climber's Odyssey from Llanberis to the Big Walls (1997 Should have been Into Thin Air)
1996           Audrey Salkeld                     A Portrait of Leni Riefenstahl
1995           Alan Hankinson                    Geoffrey Winthrop Young: Poet, Mountaineer, Educator
1994           Dermot Somers                    At the Rising of the Moon
1993           Jeff Long                              The Ascent (USA)
1992           Will McLewin                        In Monte Viso's Horizon: Climbing All the Alpine 4000m Peaks
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: Two Expeditions to Kashmir
1985           Jim Perrin                              Menlove: : The Life of John Menlove Edwards
1984           Linda Gill                               Living High: : A Family Trek in the Himalayas
1984           Doug Scott, Alex MacIntyre    The Shishapangma Expedition