Best Book Recommendation

Best Mountain Climbing Books

Even though I’m a mountain’s person, I have begrudging accepted the fact that mountaineering books and documentaries are not for me. These books gives you tons of information and would make you respect mountains. Then, why am I not interested in this? It’s because of more than healthy dose of fear on certain scenarios that’s been put in my mind after reading few books.

The actual scenario of my Ice axe’s handle being broken while trying to climb a certain slope on one of the Himalayan mountains with me dangling in air and belayer struggling to balance wasn’t that scary to me in comparison with similar scenario in Vertical Limit Movie. With several such scenario’s, now I have reluctantly accepted the fact to not over prepare or plan too much. It’s better for me to go with the flow and face the scenario as it comes.

Initially, when I saw several trekkers and climbers reading mountain books, it was enticing for me to buy and read their courageous stories. It was later after reading few books and trekking post that made me realize not to read it as it became more of fear than courage and survival. That doesn’t mean it’s same for you. Doesn’t matter if you are a mountain’s person or not you can still read this encapsulating epic reads of adventure.

These are just my book choices, go ahead and pick others as well if you find better suggestions.

1) No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs and David Roberts 

When my sister-in-law first suggested this book 4 years back, I didn’t even know the name of Top 14 mountains and wasn’t aware about Ed. He is the first American to climb all fourteen 8000 Mts Peak, a living legend and by far one of the safest climbers. To stand on top of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks without the aid of a bottled oxygen is not a child’s play. In addition to his own remarkable story, Viesturs provides valuable portraits of the many other mountaineers, past and present, who climbed and sometimes perished on the same mountains. It gave me healthy dose of fear and respect to mountains along with many key take always. Definitely a must read if you ever plan on climbing big summit.

2) Annapurna by Maurice Herzog: First Conquest of 8000 meters peak 

I heard about this book for the first time when I was doing my Annapurna base camp trek in Nepal. This is the story told by Maurice Herzog on the first attempt to 8000mts peak Annapurna. Herzog and his team had to locate the mountain using sketchy, crude maps and how they confuse Dhaulagiri as Annapurna and by the time they realize and locate Annapurna, the climbing season will be almost towards the end. It’s a story of their attempt to the peak and the roles played by Herzog, Terry, Lachenal, Rébuffat and Marcel. The dangers they face during the descent and how they survive in crevice, escape avalanche and even explain at one point they were dragged on stretchers on skis through the snow and on the back of the porters in the jungle. This book explains their losses, courage and strength to complete the mission. Worth a read. Herzog ends with telling usThere are other Annapurna’s in the lives of men”. 

3) Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: A personal account on the Mount Everest Disaster

 Into Thin Air is Jon Krakauer’s account of the fatal ascent of Mt. Everest in 1996. Jon Krakauer was on assignment as a journalist during the notorious 1996 Everest disaster. He had been hired by a magazine to write an article about the effects of commercialism on the Everest Region. This is the story of heroism, poor decision making, human survival and death, and dealing with the aftermath of what is now Mount Everest’s second worst tragedy on record.

4) The Mountains of my life by Walter Bonatti – Autobiography of Walter Bonatti 

Walter Bonatti an Italian Mountaineer has made his mark with his incredible several solo ascents and exploits on numerous expeditions. In 1996, he published for the first time his memoirs. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the mountains that has forged its character and experience. In one chapter he explains the story behind the controversy over the events on K2 that changed his life. Some of his accomplishments, such as soloing the North Face of the Matterhorn during Winter seem almost inhuman. He shares his fears, loneliness and his love with mountains.

5) Touching the Void by Joe Simpson – The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

It’s a story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates who climbed the 6,344m peak Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They are the first people to attempt almost Vertical route of west face and nearly died on the descent. The descent explains the series of misfortunes from bad weather to broken Tibia. Hanging on a rope for hours along with the dead weight of his partner on the other end and decision to cut the rope and survive even after the big fall and walk back to the base with one healthy leg and surviving 3 days without water and food requires extraordinary courage and strength. It took me a long time to come out of this book. It’s an epic tale of courage and survival that will have you gripped until the very end. 

These books will make you understand the dedication, perseverance, deep humanity and love for mountains these several climbers had. These books are perfect example of what we can all aspire to as climbers and adventurers.

What are your favorite climbing books? What books inspired you to be a mountaineer? Do let us know.   

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