41 Mountaineering Adventure Books To Read So You Don’t Have To Climb Them Yourself

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I love reading about mountaineering and mountain climbing but I do not want to climb mountains in this way ever. It’s just not for me and that’s ok, but I will definitely keep reading mountaineering books.

I have a post all about books about Mount Everest and the Himalayas already but there are some in here, too. But on this list you’ll find more variety.

I think there is only one fiction book on this list, ok four but they’re all one series. Whether you want to read about mountaineering in Europe, Asia, Africa, Alaska, and even New Zealand, you can probably find something good on this list.

You’ll find some mountaineering survival stories, some mountaineering firsts, and more. You’ll feel like you’re on the side of a mountain while you’re right at home.

  • If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free.  Get that Audible deal here.
  • If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd!  You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot.
  • If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
  • Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Get that deal here.
  • Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
  • Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air is probably the most well-known book about Everest.  This is John Krakauer’s telling of the 1996 Everest disaster where eight climbers died.  At the time it was the deadliest event, and season, on Mount Everest.

He provides a balanced perspective on the events that occurred on the mountain that deadly day.  Standing on the summit, he had no idea that a storm with such an impact was approaching.

Peak

Peak Marcello is forced to choose between living with his dad in Thailand or withering away in juvie after being arrested for scaling a skyscraper in New York City.

It’s not much surprise when he chooses to go with his dad, who it turns out, has different plans for Peak: to be the youngest person to summit Mount Everest. 

While Peak is a climbing enthusiast, this will be the challenge of a lifetime. (This is fiction.)  This is a fun YA book about Everest.

The Edge

The International Peace Ascent was made to film a documentary of young climbers and it begins when Peak Marcello and his mountaineering mother are flown into the Hindu Kush on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

The camp is attacked and his mother is taken leaving Peak no choice but to track down the perpetrators to save her.

Ascent

Another mountaineering book in the Peak Marcello series is Ascent (and the next book, too).

After conquering his last mountain, he goes to Myanmar to visit Alessia. He is invited to climb the remote Hkakabo Razi and he can’t say no. But to get there he first has to face a four-week trek through the dangerous rainforest full of venomous reptiles and corrupt military.

Descent

After surviving an avalanche, Peak and his team need to descend into Tibet but his father and climbing guide are both wanted by the Chinese government. In the final Peak Marcello book, a dangerous game of political cat and mouse ensues and getting off the mountain is just the beginning of their troubles.

Eiger Dreams

This is a collection of Krakauer’s finest mountaineering essays. In one summer, K2 killed 13 of the world’s most experienced climbers. Two men scale a 400-foot waterfall in Valdez, Alaska, and in France, an International crowd of rock climbers, paragliders, and bungee jumpers find new ways to risk their lives on Mont Blanc. Krakauer presents stories of a group of people stretching the limits of what is possible.

Touching the Void

This is the harrowing tale of two mountaineers in the Peruvian Andes in the summer of 1985 setting off to conquer an unclimbed route. After successfully reaching the summit, one must leave the other for dead after a horrific mid-descent accident.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

After four days training in Wales, Eric Newby, a fashion industry worker, and inexperienced hill climber decided it was time for a change from 10 years in Haute Couture and ended up walking the Hindu Kush.

No Way Down

This is Grahm Bowley’s recount of the tragedy that hit K2 in August 2008 when 11 climbers died.  He interviewed many of the survivors and pieced together their stories to find the most likely series of events that occurred on that fateful day. This is a must-read mountaineering book and one I can’t wait to read.

The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier

Jim and Mike stood atop Mount Rainier in June 1992 hoping is would be the first of many milestones as passionate mountaineers. Things took a turn when a cave-in plunged them deep into a glacial crevasse.

Jim faced the challenges of nature trapped on a narrow ledge of ice far below daylight, hoping the snow and ice he battled wouldn’t bury him alive all while trying to keep his friend alive.

Alone with little equipment and little hope, he must decide if he should face a slow, lonely death or an agonizing climb for life.

The White Spider

This is one of those classic mountain adventure books and definitely a must-read. This is the harrowing tale of the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, the most legendary and terrifying climb in history. Heinrich Harrer was part of the team that made the expedition in 1938 and this is his account of physical daring and mental resilience.

The Shining Mountain

Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker decided to climb the unclimbed West Wall of Changabang, the Shining Mountain, in 1976.  This would be the most fearsome and one of the most difficult, technical climbs on a granite wall in Garhwal Himalaya. 

At the time, a lightweight ascent would be more significant than anything done on Everest.  It’s the story of how climbing a mountain can become all-consuming.

Psychovertical

This is Kirkpatrick’s story of spending 12 days climbing the Reticent Wall on El Capitan alone. He uses the experience to help him understand how growing up poor and dyslexic with low confidence set him on the path of extreme adventure.

The Girl Who Climbed Everest: Lessons Learned Facing Up to the World’s Toughest Mountains

This is Bonita Norris’ story of undertaking the world’s toughest and most dangerous expeditions. As a teenager with an eating disorder, a newfound passion for climbing inspired her to change her life. These are the lessons she learned while facing the world’s highest mountains.

The Girl Who Climbed Everest: The inspirational story of Alyssa Azar, Australia’s Youngest Adventurer

When Alyssa was just eight years old, she was the youngest person to walk the grueling Kokoda Track. At twelve, she climbed the ten highest peaks in Australia. At fourteen, she summited Mount Kilimanjaro, now at nineteen, she reached the summit of Mount Everest. This is the story of how she became the youngest Australian to climb the world’s highest peak after turning back twice.

I think I would like to read this one, too, because I read No Summit Out of Sight and really enjoyed that and this sounds similar.

No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits

Jordan Romero is actually the youngest person to summit Mount Everest at just 13 years, 10 months, and 10 days old.  And that was just the beginning.  By 15, he was the youngest person to reach the highest summits of all seven continents.

This memoir is the story of his journey, the idea of which was sparked at just nine years old, where we see all the hard work and training result in a dream come true.  I’m read this and really enjoyed it!

The Wild Within

Simon Yates is drawn to remoteness and his insatiable appetite for adventure brought him to lead expeditions in the Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego, the Wrangell St-Elias range in Alaska, and Eastern Greenland. He grapples with the commercialization of mountain wilderness, life as a family man, and his enduring role in the film adaptation of Touching the Void where he must relive the tragic events in Peru. His escape to the wilderness isn’t what it once was as he witnesses the advance of modern communications into the wilderness and must find his own notion of a new wild.

In the Shadow of Denali

Denali is North America’s tallest mountain, rising more than 20,000 feet above sea level. This collection of stories brings the mountain to life through the experience of the men and women whose fates have entwined on the icy peak.

Denali’s Howl

In 1968, twelve meant ascended Denali but after a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard, only five mad it down. Andy Hall lived in the park at the time and spent years tracking down rescuers, survivors, documents, and communications to finally reveal the full story of the fateful day on Denali.

Just For the Love of It

Cathy made history as she stepped onto the summit of Everest: she was the first woman to summit the world’s highest peak from both the north and south routes.

Here, Cathy has captured the drama of her climbs and her passion for the challenge during her four attempts on the mountain.

This is a great choice if you want a mountaineering book about a woman.

The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre in Patagonia is one of the most beatiful peaks in the world and draws the most devoted technical alpinists to it’s peak. It has been surrounded by controversy since the first claimed ascent in 1959 but a debate has raged since then as climbers attempt to retrace the route used only to find contradictiions.

The Third Pole

Mark Synnott was lured to Everest in 2019 to try and find the long fabled Kodak camera carried by George Mallory and Sandy Irvine on their 1924 ascent of Everest. 2019 came to be known as the “year the Everest broke,” resulting in eleven deaths. Synnott witnessed the tragedy and obsession first-hand and even came to understand it himself as he went off the safety rope to solve the Kodak mystery.

The Moth and the Mountain

In the 1930s, Maurice Wilson came up with a plan to fly from England to Everest, crash land on its lower slopes, and be the first to reach the summit entirely alone. Never mind that he barely knows how to fly or climb, he has the right equipment and determination. In 1933 he took off from London, headed for the Himalayas. This is the tale of his eleven-month, icy ordeal.

The Climb

Anatoli  Boukrev shares his perspective on the 1996 Everest disaster as he climbed, alone and blind, and brought climbers back from the certain edge of death. 

Late in the day, 23 climbers and guides were caught in a blizzard and left disoriented and without oxygen on the descent as darkness approached.

Following Atticus: Forty-eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

This is not your average mountaineering book. This one is all about a mountain climbing dog named Atticus!

After a close friend died of cancer, Tom decided to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot peaks twice in one winter with his furry friend Atticus to raise money for charity.

It was an extraordinary adventure that took them all across the state and into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland.

Buried in the Sky

On K2, the deadliest peak in the world, in August 2008, eleven climbers lost their lives.  But two sherpas made it out alive.  Coming from extreme poverty, they became two of the most skilled mountain climbers in the world and Buried in the Sky is the first time their story is being told. 

From K2 to the slums in Kathmandu, we hear their perspective on one of the most dramatic disasters in alpine history. This is one I would really love to read. It’s a great book about climbing in the Himalayas from the perspective of Sherpas which you don’t hear much.

The Next Everest

Jim Davidson and his team spent two days stranded on Everest at 20,000 feet after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015. That day became the deadliest day on Everest with eighteen people losing their lives.

The experience left him shaken and unsure if he would ever go back but in 2017, he returned and reached the summit. This is his story of living through the biggest disaster on the mountain.

The Mountains of My Life

These are the stories of Walter Bonatti’s experiences in the Alps, the Himalayas, and the little-known peaks of South America. He also shares what really happened on the first Italian expedition to ascend K2 in 1954 where his actions helped avert disaster but left him as a scapegoat upon return. Part detective story, part adventure, this tale is as controversial as its author.

The Last Great Mountain

Kangchenjunga is the third highest, but reputedly hardest, peak in the world with the first disastrous summit attempt in 1905 and the first successful attempt 50 years later by Joe Brown and George Band. This is the story of Kangchenjunga.

Crossing Denali

Michael transformed himself from an overweight chain-smoker to a two-time marathon runner. He had only climbed Mount Rainier before attempting the West Buttress route up Denali.

This is the story of his and five other mountaineers, plus their guides, climb up the West Buttress route of Denali where they are lulled into a false sense of security before being pummeled by the mountains worst on their descent of the northern side.

Above the Clouds

In Above the Clouds, Killian Jornet looks back on his life of breaking mountaineering records left and right, summiting Everest twice in one week without oxygen or ropes, and being named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year as he ruminates on the simplicity, joy, and freedom that he’s found in nature.

K2: The Savage Mountain

For every four people that reach the summit of K2, one loses their life. This is the story of the American 1953 expedition led by Charles S. Houston who was stopped short of the summit by terrible storms and illness. On the descent, tragedy struck but the climbers made it back to safety. How they did so is renowned in the world of climbing.

This is a great choice if you want a historical mountaineering book.

Annapurna: A Woman’s Place

In August 1978, thirteen women set out to be the first Americans and the first women to summit Annapurna. On October 15, two women and two Sherpas stood on the summit but the celebration was cut short two days later when the two women of the second summit team fell to their deaths. Arlene Blum, the expedition leader, shares the dramatic story of the team’s climb, courage, and strength to attempt Annapurna.

In My Wildest Dreams: A Woman’s Humorous Perspective of her Mt. Kilimanjaro Experience

Sue is a petite, menopausal, southern Mississippi Jewish homemaker and is offered to fill a last minute spot on a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. She can’t find any information on the climb from a woman’s perspective and decided she would keep this journal account from start to finish.

No Picnic on Mount Kenya

Felice Benuzzi is in POW Camp 354 in the shadow of Mount Kenya. The tedium of camp life is broken when an idea comes to him: break out of camp and trek for days across perilous terrain before climbing the north face of Mount Kenya with improvised equipment, meager rations, and just a picture of the mountain on their beef tins as a guide.

Denali Ranger

Roger has been mountaineering on Denali for over forty years and worked as a ranger most of that time. He has summited it numerous times, met the best climbers in the world, and led rescues that saved lives. He has studied everything about the mountain and those who climb it while experiencing his own adventures on one the most formidable mountains in the world.

This Game of Ghosts

Joe Simpson was forced to relive the tragic ordeal of Simon Yates cutting his rope, sending Joe plummeting, when he wrote Touching the Void. Another fall in the Himalayas almost broke him. He tested his nerve again and struggled on crutches to 20,000 feet on Pumori, near Everest. On his descent, he heard a first-time climber was killed by a chance rockfall.

To find catharsis for his confused emotions, he wrote this memoir where he recalls signs from childhood to measure fear and embrace the unknown.

No Shortcuts to the Top

Ed Viesturs spent 18 years climbing to the tops of the world’s 14 highest peaks, over 8,000 meters.  From turning back just 300 feet from the summit of Everest to not shrinking away from Annapurna, known to claim one of every two climbers to reach the summit, this is Ed’s story of climbing.

We learn about mistakes made, bad judgment on the mountains, close calls, and rescues along with the camaraderie that comes with it all.

The Endless Knot: K2 Mountain of Dreams and Destiny

Kurt Diembeerger brings us a harrowing first-hand account of the 1986 K2 disaster.  He shares what happened during the disaster in frank detail: the final days of success, the accident, the storm, and the escape during which five climbers died. 

He came out of the disaster with one other person physically and emotionally ravaged, but also as a tenacious and instinctive survivor.

Zombies on Kilimanjaro: A Father/Son Journey Above the Clouds

As Tim and his son climb to the roof of Africa, they not only face treacherous terrain, but fatherhood, divorce, dark secrets, and old grudges as they form an authentic adult relationship. This is as much about a father/son relationship as it is about climbing and the future of humankind.

From Peak to Peak: The Story of the First Human-Powered Journey from the Summit of Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand to the Summit of Aoraki/ Mount Cook

With just a borrowed bicycle, climbing gear, an inflatable kayak, a shoestring budget, and a tight time constraint, two men set off on a 1400 km trek between Mt. Ruapehu to Mt. Cook, the highest peaks in New Zealand.

Have you read any of these mountaineering books? Which ones? Which is your favorite mountaineering adventure book? Any others I should check out?

Author: Megan Johnson

I'm Megan, a cheesehead at heart currently residing in the Sunshine State. You can probably find me reading, watching Forensic Files, or both.

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