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The Best Books on Climbing

Rock climbing books and climbing literature can be enjoyed by anyone in the climbing world and everyone outside of it. The dream of standing on top of a mountain peak can be appreciated by anyone.

For those of us who haven’t stood on top of Everest or other snowy craggy peaks, we can rely on climbing books to paint that picture in our minds. I’ve also used climbing books extensively to learn from more experienced climbers. Many climbers have written best practices for mitigating risk, the best climbing techniques, and tips from their illustrious climbing careers.

Best Rock Climbing Biographies

Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock Climber by Steve Roper

I love Camp 4 By Steve Roper. It provides a history lesson on the golden age of rock climbing and historic first ascents on the big walls in Yosemite Valley. Camp 4 is the famous campsite underneath the huge granite walls. You’ll get to read about the escapades of Yvon Chouinard, Warren Harding, and Royal Robbins.

This is essential climbing literature that gives you insight to an incredible time in North American Climbing. Before the internet and color pictures in guidebooks. These climbers were ascending to the unknown in the vertical world.

If you enjoy reading Camp 4, then I highly recommend the rock climbing documentary Valley Uprising. This book is a great read for you and your climbing partner if you’re struggling with fear while rock climbing.

Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

The Free Solo man himself, Alex Honnold, is also an author. Professional climber, best selling author, he can do it all.

His book Alone on The Wall documents his climbing life. In this book, you’ll get to read the ins and outs of his mind and see his life of training that led to his famous free solo ascent of El Capitan. Alex is the most famous climber in the world and he has broken through climbing culture to the mainstream.

Famous climbing author, David Roberts, assisted with writing this book and chimes in to convey to the reader the significance of Alex’s climbs.

Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick

Psychovertical is the autobiography of British Climber Andy Kirkpatrick’s nearly two week solo ascent of El Capitan’s Reticent Wall. Andy’s ascent was one of the hardest aid ascents done by any Briton.

You’ll get a glimpse into Andy’s mind and his family life. And maybe you’ll figure out why he’s spending so long climbing El Capitan.

Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go By Steph Davis

Steph Davis is a famous climber with incredible ascents, she has free soloed The Diamond and free climbed The Salathe Wall. As climbers we learn to fall, but now she documents her transition from falling to flying as she becomes a pro at BASE jumping and windsuit flying.

This isn’t as much of a climbing book, as it is a book about dealing with heartbreak, pain, and loss.

The Push by Tommy Caldwell

Tommy Caldwell is one of the most famous professional climbers in the world and he has now written one of the best rock climbing books. . The Push is an autobiography of Tommy’s life and the incredible feats he has managed. This book is an awesome supplement to the hit movie The Dawn Wall. Aspiring climbers will love to read this climber’s journey.

Best Books for Technical Rock Climbing Skills

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills is one piece of mountain literature that you need on your bookshelf. It’s a textbook for all things technical climbing and mountaineering. This is the only book you need out of all the mountaineering books.

It includes all the outdoor fundamentals you’ll need for the technical side of climbing. It does not focus on much as physical training, but ropecraft, knots, and other technical skills.

The Trad Climber’s Bible, John Long and Peter Croft

The Trad Climber’s Bible is another book that covers the outdoor fundamentals for traditional climbing. John Long is an expert storyteller and he weaves climbing stories into memorable lessons. Long and Croft are legends in in the rock climbing community, this book is a must read for all climbers.

The Single Pitch Instructor Manual by Bob Gaines and Jason Martin

The Single Pitch Instructor Manual isn’t only for those studying to become an AMGA climbing guide. It’s an informative book that covers all thing climbing anchors and single pitch climbing. If you’re going to be building a lot of top rope anchors on natural protection, this book is a great addition to your collection.

Climbing Anchors by John Long

Climbing Anchors is a climbing book that focuses on the ins and outs of anchors. Rock climbers need to be proficient when building anchors. And the only way to get better at building anchors is to climb more and gain climbing experience. But having a book like this will cover important things to consider.

Many climbers learn best by doing, so keep this book on hand the next time you’re at the crag so you can practice these skills.

Best Rock Climbing Training Books

The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, Michael L. Anderson and Mark L. Anderson

The Rock Climbers Training Manual teaches you how to reach your optimal rock climbing performance. This book mainly focuses on the physical training aspects of climbing, but there are a few chapters that talk about falling and the mental game in climbing.

You can also use this book to identify and achieve your climbing goals. It’s hard work and it’s not easy, but this book is a great resource to help you send more climbs.

Training For Climbing, Eric Hörst

This is one of the best climbing training books if you’re looking to dial in your climbing training and send harder grades. This book will focus on power and endurance. World class climbers, advanced climbers, and even beginner climbers can get something out of this book.

Crack Climbing by Pete Whittaker

Crack Climbing is seeing a renaissance thanks to the youtube stars the Wideboyz. Pete Whittaker, one half of the duo, recently released a book that covers everything you need to know about cracks. Most climbers will shy away from cracks at first. But if you read this then hand jams, ringlocks, and chicken wings will become second nature for you.

Best Books about Mountain Climbing

Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air by Jon Karkaauer is a first hand ascent of the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest. This climbing book focuses on the mountaineers that were attempting to summit Everest

Touching the Void, Joe Simpson

Touching the Void is about Joe Simpson and Simon Yates first winter ascent in the Peruvian Andes. The climbers deal with injuries and a harsh winter storm. This is an incredible story of perseverance and determination. The odds faced seem insurmountable and it is an inspiring story that should be read by climbers and non climbers alike.

Best Rock Climbing Books by Women Authors

Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill

Lynn Hill made history by making the first ascent of The Nose in Yosemite. But not only was she the first one to make the first ascent, it was the first free climbing ascent as well. She made the impossible, possible. By using just her hands and feet, she made climbing history.

This is one of the best climbing books to get insight to an extraordinary achievement.

Unraveled: A Climber’s Journey Through Darkness and Back Paperback by Katie Brown

Katie Brown was a rock climbing prodigy in the 1990s. She climbed with the best of the best, like Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, and Tommy Caldwell. She won climbing competitions and onsighted some of the hardest rock climbs in the country. But then she disappeared.

This book documents her life, the challenges she faced off of the climbing wall and her life after she disappeared from the climbing community.

High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity by Steph Davis

Steph Davis reflects on her life of love, friendship, and personal empowerment all through the lens of her career as a professional climber. She already has scaled snowy peaks in Patagonia and climbed El Capitan in a single day. She loves to rock climb and she reflects on the dangers and risk that come hand in hand with her rock climbing pursuits.

This is an accessible book for non climbers because she reflects on common themes we all experience in life.

Best Rock Climbing Books on Mental Training

Rock climbing requires as much mental training as it does physical training. I personally have had so many benefits from climbing in my personal and professional life. I’ve learned to believe in myself, to not give up, and to keep trying.

These are the books that have helped me the most with improving my head game.

The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner

Arno Ilgner cut his teeth climbing bold and dangerous first ascents in the 1970s and 1980s. The Rock Warrior’s Way is the culmination of his tips for building mental fortitude. This book is helpful to any climber. Whether their a beginner or elite and for sport and trad climbers alike.

This book provides a comprehensive program to focus your mentality during a challenging climb. If you want to improve the mental aspect of your climbing, this book covers those challenges and how you can improve on them.

Espresso Lessons by Arno Ilgner

If you’re in a rush and short on time, Espresso Lessons packs a punch of information. It takes the best lessons from The Rock Warrior’s Way. This book contains mental fitness training for practical climbing scenarios.

This book helps you with mental training and identifying risks and managing them appropriately. Instead of avoiding falling at all costs, you’ll learn how to practice falling and how take smart risks. The mental aspects of climbing will make you a better climber and improve your non climbing life as well.

Photo of author
Rob developed ORB to help himself categorize and find all the outdoor gear he needed at great prices. He loves writing about the outdoors and climbing. Rob is a certified Single Pitch Instructor through the AMGA.

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