Climbing Guides

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Climbing is a physical sport, but it is also one that can inspire people tremendously through a good book. If you are starting to get really psyched about climbing ( or know someone who is), investing in a good climbing book for a read or gift is a start.

There are plenty of climbing books on the market, but we’ve put together the Best Climbing Books so you can get your rock climbing fix even when settling onto the couch to do some reading in winter.

What is the Best Climbing Book?

We have gone through endless climbing books to find the following, which we consider to be the 12 best, basing our search on how helpful, interesting, and entertaining the given books were.

You will also find a buying guide and FAQ at the end of this article to discover all of the information that you may need when it comes to finding the best climbing book for you. We’ve ordered this list of our favorite climbing books starting with the products that we like the most. 

In a hurry?
If you want to find out what the Best Climbing Book is, then I’d recommend The Climbing Bible as the best one.

1. Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing takes a look at one of the most important aspects of climbing: the mental game. In this book,  the writers combine science, psychology, and years of climbing experience to give you the tools you need to perfect your mindset and mentality when it climes to climbing.

Pros:

  • Applies scientific theories to the psychology related to climbing
  • Well-written and informative without being too dense
  • Applicable not only to climbing but also other aspects of life

Cons:

  • Doesn’t cover physical aspects of training, so not suitable to be used as a training manual

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2. The Climbing Bible

The Climbing Bible is a comprehensive guide for beginner to advanced climbers. Written by world-renowned climbers Martin Mobråten and Stian Christophersen, this hardy book is your one-stop shop that provides easy to read coverage on all aspects of training. From a mix of technical, physical to mental components, it showcases all these aspecrs that are so critical for indoor and outdoor rock climbing. You can expect to get interesting notes about the different types of finger grips, footwork as well as endless climbing jargon used by boulders and climbers alike. 

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

What We Like:

  • Includes plenty of colourful and descriptive photos 
  • Written by internationally recognized climbing coaches 

Pros:

  • Includes 400 over techniques and action photos
  • Covers various facet of technical training, both mental and physical
  • Appropriate for beginner to advanced rock climbers

Cons:

  • Lacks sufficient detail to serve as a technical climbing training manual

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3. How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

When it comes to books appropriate for the youth and teen readers, there is no better option than world-class climber Ashima Shirashi’s book How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion. This work addresses the perseverance and problem solving required for climbing and ties them to more general situations, making it an excellent life guide for youth climbers and readers.

Pros:

  • Excellent and entertaining illustrations
  • A great message for children, both climbers and non-climbers alike
  • Affordably priced

Cons:

  • Catered more for youth and not as suited for adult reading

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4. Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

This inspirational book profiles 20 of North America’s famous female climbers, featuring legends like Lynn Hill, Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou, and Beth Rodden, along with some of the strongest female climbers in the game today, such as Sasha DiGiulian, Emily Harrington, and Alex Puccio. The profiles, which are accompanied by stunning photographs, are sure to inspire climbers of all ages and genders.

Pros:

  • Very inspirational content from true experiences
  • Aesthetic content and layout
  • Stories told in each climbers’ own words

Cons:

  • May get a bit repetitive given different accounts from different climbers

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5. The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Perhaps one of the most popular climbing books ever written, The Rock Warrior’s Way is an extensive guide for mental training that gives you the tools you need to properly focus your mind when climbing. It is based on sports psychology findings and the author, Arno Ilgner’s, own personal experiences and touches on topics like motivation, risk assessment, mental focus, fear, and more.

Pros:

  • Tackles 7 key core concepts
  • Tackles the main issues that prevent climbers from progressing in their sport
  • Provides tools you can actually apply when climbing
  • Written by a well-respected and renowned rock climbing pioneer

Cons:

  • A rather lengthy book so not the best fit if you are looking for a short and easy read

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6. Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Another aesthetic and inspirational piece of literature, Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America highlights some of the most beautiful and breathtaking climbing destinations across the continent. The author recommends up to 22 world-class locations, such as Yosemite, Indian Creek, and Bishop, all of which are coupled with outstanding photographs.

Pros:

  • Incredible imagery
  • Great recommendations for climbing in North America
  • Suitable for both climbing and general nature lovers

Cons:

  • Premium Pricing
  • Not as informative and detailed enough to serve as a manual

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7. 1 Move Too Many – How to Understand the Injuries & Overuse Syndromes of Rock Climbing

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

If you find yourself getting injured all too often, this may just be the perfect book for you. In this guide to common climbing ailments, two accredited German sports doctors outline typical injuries that climbers suffer along with their treatments and preventions. From mild finger strains to serious chronic pain, this book helps you to understand what is going on with your body and will help you get back on the rock in no time.

Pros:

  • Great for climbers who are looking to minimize climbing injuries
  • Based on sports medicine science
  • Covers useful treatment and prevention methods

Cons:

  • Very niche focus and topic that might not appeal to the average casual climber

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8. Alone on the Wall

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

If you’re a rock climber (or really anyone), you’ve probably heard of Alex Honnold, the climbing phenom who has shocked the world with his daring free solo ascents. His memoir, Alone on the Wall, outlines the origins of his climbing career up until his rise to stardom, keeping readers at the edge of their seats as he recounts his spectacular feats with the help of climber and award-winning author David Roberts.

Pros:

  • Inspiration and motivational memoir
  • A glimpse into the life of one of the world’s most famous climbers
  • Can be enjoyed by non-climbers as well

Cons:

  • Contents and terminologies can occassionally get quite technical

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9. Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Another memoir of a world-renown female climber Steph Davis, as she recounts her life, both its adventures and its tragedies. It outlines her transition from climbing into base jumping, along with all of the risks and thrills that came with it. This candid book has the ability to inspire any reader, climber or not.

Pros:

  • Addresses important life themes and lessons
  • Affordably priced
  • Great gift for female climber friends

Cons:

  • More focus on base jumping rather than rock climbing

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10. Drawn: The Art of Ascent

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

Beautifully illustrated and written, Drawn: The Art of Ascent recounts the personal journey of artist and climber Jeremy Collins. The book chronicles his important first ascents over the span of a four years in the United States, China, Venezuela, and Canada, along with important personal realizations, and is sure to inspire the adventure-seeking climber.

Pros:

  • Skilfully illustrated
  • Fantastic storytelling
  • An inspirational and adventure-sparking account

Cons:

  • Not as suited if you’re looking for climbing advice or information

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11. Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

For those interested in the origins of climbing in the United States, Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber is an excellent read. The book rounds up stories of some of the most important individuals in the history of North American climbing, like Royal Robbins and Warren Harding, and gives an inside look at the climbing revolution that took place in Yosemite in the 1960’s.

Pros:

  • Great for anyone interested in climbing history
  • Thrilling anecdotes
  • Chronicles the advances in equipment and techniques

Cons:

  • More catered to climbers compared to non-climbing readers

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12. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills

Top 12 Best Climbing Books of 2021

If you are a mountaineering lover, this is the perfect read for you. This book has even been referred to as the ‘bible’ of mountaineering. It details gear advice, technical maneuvers, and an endless number of safety measures to keep you comfortable and secure out in the mountains. It has been translated into 12 languages and is revered by climbing professionals as an all-encompassing mountaineering guide.

Pros:

  • Incredibly informative
  • Up-to-date and accredited content
  • Written and reviewed by AMGA-certified guides
  • Perfect gift for mountaineerers

Cons:

  • Quite specific to mountaineering only and not rock climbing
  • Very technical content
  • Premium Pricing

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Conclusion

Though we enjoy all of the literature in this article, when it comes to climbing books, our top recommendation for the best climbing books for climbers would still be The Climbing Bible. From technical, physical, to psychological components of climbing training, it is the most comprehensive climbing book on our list, making it our favourite choice.

FAQ

Why Getting a Climbing Guide or Book Makes a Great Gift

Climbing books are an excellent gift for climbers and non-climbers alike. Rock climbers will appreciate the technical advice that training books offer. If one is looking more for an easy read, there are many inspiration memoirs, illustrated books, and children’s books that will delight even those who have never tried climbing. This can even inspire them to give the sport a go.

Can You Really Learn to Climb by Reading?

Though reading won’t necessarily make your climbing technique any better, it can certainly give you very helpful advice when it comes to implementing training strategies that will improve your climbing. Climbing training guides and videos can help you focus your physical training to make you stronger, while mental training books can certainly have a positive impact on your mindset and, ultimately, climbing goals.

Are Climbing Books Good for Climbing Coaches

Climbing books are excellent for rock climbing coaches or people who give coaching advice to competitive or younger climbers. Training manuals outline helpful techniques and specific step by step tactics and strategies that coaches can use with their climbers. Mental training books on the other hand can give coaches the tools and understanding that they need to help their climbers unleash their full mental potential and climb to the best of their abilities.

Best Recommended Book by Famous Climbers

While many climbers have written books, among the best are the memoirs of Alex Honnold and Steph Davis. While Alone on the Wall outlines the incredible feats of free solo climber Alex Honnold, keeping you on the edge of your seat, Learning to Fly draws on the adventurous and tragic experiences of renowned climber Steph Davis in a way that can be applied to any aspect of life, not just climbing.

Best Books for Mountaineers

Without a doubt, the best book for mountaineers is Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. This book is highly interesting, informative for a beginner to advance climber and lastly, professionally accredited. Additionally, it is frequently updated to ensure that it contains current and relevant information.

Can you spot the laggers? Stunning mountainscape and how small we are in comparison to that.

Climbing Books for Beginners

Even beginner climbers can start to enjoy climbing books. Mental training books, like Vertical Mind and The Rock Warrior’s Way will help new climbers get off on the right foot when it comes to their psychological game. Additionally, seeing inspirational stories about other rock climbers and boulderers, like the woman who are featured in Women Who Dare, will motivate new beginner climbers to keep training in order to reach their full potential.

Climbing Training Books to Improve Technique

When it comes to improving climbing technique, there is perhaps no better book than The Climbing Bible. It offers a plethora of climbing technique information and advice about different finger grips, body positioning and more, and will help climbers learn how to move in the most efficient way possible.

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