Best Climbing Books

What is the Best Climbing Books in 2024? Here's a list of the Top 12 books for climbers based on our experiences and expertise.

Rock climbing is a physical and mentally enduring sport and passion, hence reading a powerful and inspiring climbing book can help fuel the passion. If you are starting to get really stoked about any form of rock climbing (or know someone who is and their birthday is coming up), investing in a good climbing book for a read or a climbing gift is a great start.

There are plenty of rock climbing books on the market, but we as fellow outdoor climbers who love to read have put together the Best Climbing Books so you can get your rock climbing fix even when settling onto the couch after a day of climbing to do some reading in the evening.

Best Climbing Books

What are the Best Climbing Books?

Below you’ll find the list of the top 12 Best Climbing Books. We compiled this list from climbing books we have used, asked others about, and researched further to give you the best possible roundup. With many years of experience with books for climbers you can be assured that this article will give you what you’re looking for.

We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.

1. Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing

Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing
Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 1 pounds (0.45 kg)
Pages: 275
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: Yes

Vertical Mind is a gem for climbers looking to conquer not just physical heights but mental barriers too. The authors delve deep into the psyche of a climber, offering invaluable insights to tackle fears and enhance focus. Whether you’re a newbie trying to overcome initial jitters or a seasoned climber aiming to push boundaries, this book provides practical tools and psychological strategies to elevate your climbing game. A refreshing read that goes beyond technique, “Vertical Mind” is essential for those aiming to achieve their best on the rocks. Highly recommended!

Pros

  • Applies scientific theories to the psychology related to climbing
  • Well-written and informative
  • Not too dense
  • Applicable not only to climbing but also other aspects of life

Cons

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

2. Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America

Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 272
Cover: Hardcover
E-Book: No
Audio Book: No

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.

If your buddy happens to be a bookworm, then this top seller climbing book as a gift would just be the best idea.

Pros

  • Incredible imagery
  • Great recommendations for climbing in North America
  • Suitable for both climbing and general nature lovers
  • Embraces the experience of climbing rather than simply getting a climb “done”

Cons

  • Not as informative and detailed enough to serve as a manual
  • North America specific

3. Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber

Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber
Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 255
Cover: Paperback & Hardcover
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: No

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
  • Illustrates changes in the world of climbing over time

Cons

  • More catered to climbers compared to non-climbing readers
  • Technical wording at times

4. The Climbing Bible

The Climbing Bible
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 352
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: No

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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Lacks sufficient detail to serve as a technical climbing training manual
  • Focuses more on photos than information

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

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion
Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 40
Cover: Hardcover
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: Yes

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
  • Perfect for both climbers and non-climbers alike
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Catered more for youth
  • Not as suitable for adult reading

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

Women Who Dare: North America’s Most Inspiring Women Climbers
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 264
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: No

Women Who Dare is an excellent read for the female rock climber in your life. 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
  • Well-formatted content and layout
  • Stories told in each climbers’ own words
  • Inspiring for women climbers
  • Great photos

Cons

  • May get a bit repetitive given different accounts from different climbers
  • Specific targeted audience

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

The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers
Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 176
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: No

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

8. 1 Move Too Many – How to Understand the Injuries & Overuse Syndromes of Rock Climbing

1 Move Too Many – How to Understand the Injuries & Overuse Syndromes of Rock Climbing
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 230
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: No
Audio Book: No

If you find yourself getting injured all too often, 1 Move Too Many 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
  • Essential information for frequent climbers

Cons

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

9. Alone on the Wall

Alone on the Wall
Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 256
Cover: Paperback & Hardcover
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: Yes

If you’re a rock climber, you’ve probably heard of Alex Honnold, the climbing phenomenon 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
  • Highly descriptive of experiences

Cons

  • Contents and terminologies can occassionally get quite technical
  • Some readers found it a bit superficial at times

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

Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go
Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 336
Cover: Paperback
E-Book: No
Audio Book: No

Learning to Fly is a 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
  • Written by a world-class climber

Cons

  • More focus on base jumping rather than rock climbing
  • Biographical rather than educational

11. Drawn: The Art of Ascent

Drawn: The Art of Ascent
Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 176
Cover: Hardcover
E-Book: No
Audio Book: No

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

  • Skillfully illustrated
  • Fantastic storytelling
  • An inspirational and adventure-sparking account
  • Multimedia artwork throughout
  • Great for readers of all ages and experience levels

Cons

  • Not as suited if you’re looking for climbing advice or information
  • Not one set story – more a combination of little stories

12. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Pages: 624
Cover: Paperback & Hardcover
E-Book: Yes
Audio Book: No

If you are a mountaineering lover, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills 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

Verdict

Based on all of our experience with books for climbers, we found that Vertical Mind: Psychological Approaches for Optimal Rock Climbing is the best climbing book available today.

Our Premium Option is Climbing Rock: Vertical Explorations Across North America with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.

However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock climber as an affordable alternative.

Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:

What You Should Know Before Buying climbing books

Content and Focus

When on the hunt for the perfect climbing book, it’s essential to consider the book’s main topic and focus. Ask yourself: Are you after a step-by-step guide for beginners? Perhaps you’re keen on riveting narratives of legendary climbers or stunning photographic journeys by alphine climbers through majestic peaks? Pinpointing your main interest will help narrow down the vast selection and lead you to a book that matches your climbing aspirations.

Author Expertise

When it comes to climbing, learning from the best is always a good strategy. Check out the author’s credentials and background. A book penned by an experienced climber or a well-regarded mountaineer is likely to offer valuable insights, lessons, and anecdotes that are both credible and entertaining. It’s always a plus to read material created by someone who’s “been there and done that.”

Reader Reviews

Like any other product, books have reviews too! Before making a purchase, it’s worth diving into reviews, either online or through word-of-mouth recommendations by fellow climbers and boulderers. These can provide a candid glimpse of the climbing book’s quality, relevance, and readability. A highly-recommended book in the climbing community among seaon climbers is likely a good bet.

Versatility and Longevity

Versatility and longevity are another big consideration when buying a rock climbing book. Consider if the book is a one-time read or something you’d refer back to often during your years of climbing and scaling rock faces. Instructional books, for instance, can serve as valuable long-term references as you progress in your climbing journey. On the other hand, memoirs or stories might be more of a one-time inspirational read. Think about the book’s potential longevity in your collection and its versatility across different stages of your rock climbing experience from sport climbing to outdoor bouldering to big wall multi pitch climbs.

Questions and Answers About climbing books

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.

What is the 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.

What are the 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.

What is the Best 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.

What are the Best 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.

Lydia Y

Lydia Y

Lydia is an avid outdoor lover and wildlife enthusiast. She loves all kinds of nature escapades and enjoys immersing in the mountains and landscapes, hence the name Lydiascapes was born from there. She embarks on outdoor adventures like camping, hiking to skiing and water sports. She has travelled to 49 over countries to date and is waiting to conquer Norway in 2024.

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