Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top Ten Climbing Books of All Time

Among the many great things about climbing are a rich history and great literature. Unfortunately, many of today's climbers are unfamiliar with this legacy.

A while ago, I polled some friends with extensive book collections to see what they consider the best reads of all time. I gathered lists from Bob Ader, Fred Barth, Greg Crouch, Jim Moss, Gary Neptune, and myself. There were over 50 books suggested but many of the titles were recommended multiple times.
The following list is ordered by the number of recommendations. These are truly must-reads for any climber or armchair adventurer. Start with these books if you can find them (several are out of print). Later, I will post the list of 40 runner-ups.

1. Joe Simpson. Touching the Void. Epic survival in the Peruvian Alps.
2. Walter Bonatti. On the Heights. One of the alpine greats.
3. Heinrich Harrer. The White Spider. First ascent of the Eiger’s North Face.
4. Felice Benuzzi. No Picnic On Mt. Kenya. An incredible ascent in WW II.
5. Hermann Buhl. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage. Messner considers him one of the best.
6. Tom Hornbein. Everest: The West Ridge. First traverse of Everest, in 1963.
8. Lionel Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless. Best book title ever and a good read.
9. Kurt Diemberger. Summits and Secrets. One of two men who made first ascents of two 8000 meter peaks (Buhl was the other).
10. Albert Mummery. My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus. A mountaineering classic first published in 1895.

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