Summer time offers longer days and a great opportunity to dig into the adventure of climbing. For those looking for a good adventure in arm chair mountaineering, there are hundreds of options. We narrowed down 10 great choices to add to your summer reading list.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
When Joe Simpson broke his leg falling into a crevasse on Peru’s towering ice peak Siula Grande, one of climbing’s most epic tales of survival began. From crawling out of the side of the mountain, Simpson creates a vivid picture of a struggle to survive. The movie produced 15 years later is just as gripping.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krauker
In May 1996, Jon Krakauer witnessed the third most devastating accidents on Everest. Eight climbers died during a storm on the side of the highest mountains. Krakauer examines the tragedy, discussing the politics between rival guiding agencies, the money involved in climbing the world’s highest peak and the danger of it all. The tale takes a factual, first person account of what really happens on Everest expeditions.
Over the Edge by Greg Child
In August of 2000, four of America’s top rock climbers hung from a portaledge high on the Yellow Wall in the mountains of Kyrgystan. Gun fire brought them down from their perch and into the arms of fanatical Islamic militants, who kidnapped the young adults and forced them to march across Kyrgyztan. Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Jason “Singer” Smith and John Dickey experienced a life and death situation over six terrifying days in the remote mountains. Child recounts their tale with gripping clarity.
Revelations by Jerry Moffat and Niall Grimes
The autobiography of one of the world’s best rock climbers, details funny and classic stories of a young dirtbag making a name for himself. Moffat travels across the world dispatching the most difficult climbs and setting the standards of hard climbing. The rock star life of Moffat combines great stories of training and adventure in a humorous setting.
Camp 4 Recollections of a Yosemite Rock Climber by Steve Roper
The 1960s marked Yosemite Valley as the epicenter of the rock climbing world. Young climbers from around the globe gathered to take on the big walls of the national Park. Roper recounts the tales of the bolt hating Royal Robbins, the wine drinking Warren Harding, the talented Chuck Pratt and the other characters of the Golden Age of Yosemite. He also provides historical background of the elder climbers who pioneered the early valley routes. Camp 4 is the definitive history of Yosemite climbing during one of the most fascinating ages of climbing.
Climbing Free by Lynn Hill and Greg Child
In 1994, Lynn Hill made the first free ascent of the Nose on Yosemite’s El Capitan. She returned a year later to climb one of the world’s hardest routes in under 24 hours. In Climbing Free, Hill describes climbing the Nose, her friendship with the infamous Stonemasters, her near fatal 80 foot fall, her time as a stunt artist for Hollywood and the rich and colorful life she led on and off the wall. Hill’s life as one of the best rock climbers of all time is inspiring. She paints an exciting picture of the lifestyle.
Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber by Mark Twight
Noted climber Mark Twight writes a collection of stories about the inside and out of the climbing world with a focus on extreme alpinism. Twight writes angst filled accounts of climbing mountains across the world, the bonds between climbers and the in your face danger of the alpine experience. “Live the lifestyle instead of paying lip service to the lifestyle. Live with commitment. With emotional content. Live whatever life you choose honestly. Give up this renaissance man, dilettante bullshit of doing a lot of different things (and none of them very well by real standards). Get to the guts of one thing; accept, without casuistry, the responsibility of making a choice.”
Alone On The Wall by Alex Honnold and David Roberts
The thirty year old climbing phenomenon, Alex Honnold climbs in the most dangerous way possible. Poised on the edge of Half Dome, smearing on granite wrinkles, Honnold free solos some of the word’s largest walls. His climbs are both exciting and terrifying. Honnold tells of free soloing huge walls and his epic adventures in the mountains, teaching the reader about risk, reward and focus in the face of danger.
The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian
The 1972 novel follows a classic art professor who doubles as a professional assassin. When Hemlock is tricked into hazardous assignment on the side of the Eiger, suspicion, accusations and evidence build into a death defying climax in the Swiss Alps. In 1975, Clint Eastwood starred and directed in a film version of the pulp thriller. This book provides a bit of riveting summer reading.
Stonemasters: Climbers in the Seventies by John Long and Dean Fidelman
The 1970s marked a decade of climbers in bandanas, shades, cutoffs and an anti-establishment attitude. The Stonemasters were loud, proud and marked the path for new climbing with lightning bolts. Dean Fidelman collected some of the amazing photos from the era and coupled them with Long’s classic stories of the 1970s climbing culture. This is a great coffee table summer read.