Chessler's 100 Best Books

The following is Michael Chessler's list of the best mountaineering books, based on several different factors including quality of the writing, importance of the climbs, reputation of the author, quality of the photos or printing, influence on other climbers, etc.

The list was compiled as a popularity contest (most of these are books that get most frequently requested at Chessler Books) and by asking several well-read customers for their favorites.

Barker. The Last Blue Mountain
Bass. Seven Summits
Bates. Five Miles High
Bauer. Himalayan Challenge
Beckey. Challenge of the North Cascades
Benuzzi. No Picnic on Mount Kenya
Blum. Annapurna: A Woman's Place
Boardman. The Shining Mountain
Bonatti. On The Heights
Bonington. Annapurna South Face
Bowman. The Ascent of Rum Doodle
Brown. The Hard Years
Bruce. Twenty Years in the Himalaya
Buhl. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
Burdsall. Men Against The Clouds
Chouinard. Climbing Ice
Clinch. A Walk in the Sky
Coleman. Canadian Rockies, New and Old Trails
Collie. Climbing on the Himalaya
Cunningham & Abney. The Pioneers of the Alps
Davidson. Minus 148
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets
Du Faur. The Conquest of Mount Cook
Dunn. The Shameless Diary of an Explorer
Eckenstein. Karakoram and Kashmir
Ferlet. Aconcagua South Face
Filippi. Karakoram and Western Himalaya
Fitzgerald. The Highest Andes
Forbes. Travels Through the Alps of Savoy
Freshfield. The Exploration of the Caucasus
Gillman. Everest
Gillman. Eiger Direct or Direttissima
Greig. Summit Fever
Harding. Downward Bound
Harper. Pioneer Work in the Alps of New Zealand
Harrer. The White Spider
Hauser. White Mountain and Tawny Plain
Heckel. Climbing in the Caucasus
Heim & Gansser. The Throne of the Gods
Herzog. Annapurna
Hillary. From the Ocean to The Sky
Hornbein. Everest The West Ridge
Houston & Bates. K2 The Savage Mountain
Jones. Climbing in North America
King. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Huayhuash
Kinzl & Schneider. Cordillera Blanca
Klucker. The Adventures of An Alpine Guide
Krakauer. Into Thin Air
Kugy. Alpine Pilgrimage
Languepin. To Kiss High Heaven
Lukan. The Alps and Alpinism
MacInnes. Climb to the Lost World
Manning. Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills
Maraini. Karakoram
McLewin. In Monte Viso's Horizon
Messner. All Fourteen Eight-Thousanders
Messner. Solo Nanga Parbat
Miller & Manning. The North Cascades
Moravec. The Big Book of Mountaineering
Muir. The Mountains of California
Muir. My First Summer in the Sierra
Mummery. My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus
Murray. Mountaineering in Scotland
Murray. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Newby. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Norman-Neruda. The Climbs of Norman-Neruda
Norton. The Fight For Everest 1924
Noyce. Climbing the Fishes Tail
Noyce. South Col
Patey. One Man's Mountains
Pause. Extreme Alpine Rock
Pilley. Climbing Days
Radcliffe. Land of Mountains: New Zealand
Rebuffat. Mont Blanc: The 100 Finest Routes
Rebuffat. Starlight and Storm
Ridgeway. The Last Step
Roberts. The Mountain of My Fear
Roper & Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America
Rowell. In The Throne Room of the Mountain Gods
Rowell. The Vertical World of Yosemite
Salter. Solo Faces
Sayre. Four Against Everest
Scott. Big Wall Climbing
Shipton. Blank on the Map
Shipton. Nanda Devi
Simpson. Touching the Void
Smythe. Camp Six
Smythe. Climbs and Ski Runs
Steinitzer. Der Alpinismus in Bildern
Stephen. The Playground of Europe
Stuck. The Ascent of Denali
Tasker. The Savage Arena
Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless
Thorington. The Glittering Mountains of Canada
Tilman. The Ascent of Nanda Devi
Tilman. Snow on the Equator
Waller. The Everlasting Hills
Whymper. Scrambles Amongst The Alps
Whymper. Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator
Wills. Wanderings Among the High Alps
Yoshizawa. Mountaineering Maps of the World. 2 Vols
Young. Mountaincraft

Best Climbing Guidebooks

Criteria include "classics", importance to an area's history, best efforts from homegrown writers, humor, early use of the Yosemite Decimal System, topo charts or other innovation, controversy, or if they made some other mark on guidebook history.


Randall. Mount McKinley Climber's Handbook. 1984
Waterman. High Alaska. 1992


Lovejoy. Granite Mountain. 1973
Toula. A Cheap Way to Fly. 1986


Brower. Climbers Guide to the Sierra Nevada:
Preliminary edition. 1949. [First Sierra Nevada Guide attempt]
Hammack. Climber's Guide to Pinnacles National Monument. 1955
Kroll. San Luis Obispo Happy Climbs. 1978 [Best Title]
Leonard. Mountain Records of the Sierra Nevada. 1937
Meyers. Yosemite Climbs, Topo Drawings. 1976
Nicol. Rock Climbs in Yosemite, Topo Drawings. 1974 [First Topos of Yosemite]
Roper. Climbers Guide to Yosemite Valley. 1964 [First stand alone Yosemite Guide]
Tucker. Climbing in Santa Barbara & Ventura. 1981
Voge & Smatko. Mountaineer's Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1972. [Controversial Smatko first ascents]
Voge. Climbers Guide to the Sierra Nevada. 1954. [First true Sierra Nevada guide]
Vogel. Joshua Tree Rock Climbing. 1986 [Most routes of any guidebook, 4000+]
White, etc. Crags & Boulders of San Diego Co. 1978
Wilts. Climber's Guide to Tahquitz Rock. 1956 [First YDS]
Wolfe. Climber's Guide to Joshua Tree. 1970 [First JT guide]


Ament & McCarty. High Over Boulder. 1967. [A classic]
Bornemann & Lampert. Climbing Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners. 1978 [Started fourteener craze]
Dornan. Rock Climbing Guide to Boulder CO Area. 1961 [First published Boulder Guide]
Erickson. Rocky Heights, Guide to Boulder Free Climbs. 1980
Hart. Fourteen Thousand Feet, 1972, 2nd ed, with Kingery's A Climber's Guide to the High Colorado Peaks.
Lavender. San Juan Mtrs Climber's Guide to SW Colorado. 1932
Nesbit. Longs Peak, Its Story and a Guide for Climbing It. 1963
Ormes. Guide to the Colorado Mountains. 1952
Rossiter. Boulder Topographics, Pictorial Guide to Boulder. 1981
Toll. Mountaineering in the Rocky Mountain National Park. 1921


Nichols. Traprock. 1982
Reppy & Streibert. Climbing Guide to Ragged Mountain. 1964


Koloctoronis. Guide to Mississippi Palisades. 1965


Anonymous [LaForge]. Boston Rolls. 1987 [Pornographic]


Swenson. Climber's Guide to Taylor's Falls. 1972

New Hampshire

AMC. White Mountain Guide. 1907-
Peterson. Climber's Guide to Cannon Cliff. 1972 [First guidebook to use topo drawings].
Wilcox. An Ice Climbers Guide to Northern New England. 1982
Webster. Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 1982

New York

Goodwin. Climbs in the Adirondacks. 1938
Gran. Climber's Guide to the Shawangunks. 1964 [Classic]
Swain. The Gunks Guide. 1986

North Carolina

Price. Carolinas Climber's Guide, 2nd ed, 1977. [Most Illiterate Guide]


Watts. Climber's Guide to Smith Rock. 1992 [Hot area]

South Dakota

Conn. Rock Climbs in the Needles, Black Hills, SD. c.1950


Beckey. Climber's Guide to the Cascade & Olympic Mts of WA. 1949 [A classic]
Whitelaw. Private Dancer [Static Point]. 1985


Hermacinski. Extremist's Guide to Devil's Lake, New Climbs. 1985 [Controversial, vulgar]
Morris. Climber's Guide to Devil's Lake. c. 1969
Wiegand. Climber's & Fisherman's Guide to Gibraltar Rock. 1971


Bonney & Bonney. Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas. 1960
Coulter & McLane. Mountain Climbing Guide to the Grand Tetons. 1947 [Early classic]
Fryxell. The Teton Peaks and Their Ascents. 1932
Ortenburger. Climber's Guide to the Teton Range. 1956
Ortenburger. Climber's Guide to the Teton Range, 2nd ed. 1965 [Best Teton guide ever]



Harlin. Climber's Guide to North America, 3 Vols: East Coast; Rocky Mountains; West Coast.
Roper & Steck. Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. 1979 [Very influential, started the "50 best" craze]
Sherman. Stone Crusade: Historical Guide to Bouldering. 1994. [First proper recognition of bouldering]
Toula. Rock 'N Road: Rock Climbing Areas of North America. 1995
Vogler. Les Etats Unis: Les Plus Belles Escalades. 1984


Culbert. Climber's Guide to the Coastal Ranges of BC. 1965
Palmer & Thorington. Climber's Guide to the Rocky Mts of Canada. 1921
Thorington. Climber's Guide to the Interior Ranges of Canada. 1937
Wheeler. The Selkirk Mountains: A Guide for Mountain Climbers and Pilgrims. 1912

Best Mountain Photo Books

Criteria includes artistic caliber, printing quality,comprehensive documentation and reference value.

Atkeson. Northwest Heritage: The Cascade Range
Bini. Cervino e le sue Guide
Bonatti. Magic of Mont Blanc
Bonatti. Patagonia
Bonington. Chris Bonington Mountaineer
Burkhardt. Alp-Alpes-Alpen
Buscaini. Patagonia: Dreamland for Climbers and Tourists
Dumler. The High Mountains of the Alps
Edlinger. Rock Games
Fujita. Karakoram
Fujita. Himalaya
Fujita. The Alps
Garden. Bugaboos
Garden. Selkirks
Kazami. Premier Peaks of the World
Kruckenhauser. Snow Canvas
Morse. Mountains of Canada
Morse. Canada The Mountains
Ohmori. Over the Himalaya
Perren. Matterhorn
Reader. Kilimanjaro
Reader. Mt Kenya
Schmithals. Die Alpen, The Alps
Scott. Himalayan Climber
Shirahata. Nepal Himalaya
Shirahata. Karakoram
Shirahata. The Alps
Sicouri. Forbidden Mountains
Uchida. The Himalayas: The 14 Leading Peaks and other Giants
Washburn. Mt McKinley: The Conquest of Denali

Mountaineering Book Reference Books

These are the books that are most useful for the average person seeking facts on mountaineering books.

Alpine Club. Catalogue of the Library
Arctic Bibliography
Baume. Sivalaya
Bent. A Bibliography of the White Mountains
Brown. The First Ascent of Mont Blanc
Coolidge. Swiss Travel and Swiss Guide-Books
Kimes. John Muir: A Reading Bibliography
Mathews. Annals of Mont Blanc
Meckly. Mont Blanc The Early Years
Neate. Mountaineering Literature
Neate. Mountaineering and Its Literature
Neate. Mountaineering in the Andes
Neate. High Asia
Salkeld & Boyle. Climbing Mount Everest
Spence. Antarctic Miscellany
Unsworth. Everest
Yakushi. Catalog of the Himalayan Literature


Criteria for this list is writing and photo quality, plus serious coverage of mountaineering activity. Some people believe the documentation in journals and magazines can be more important than in books. Magazines and Journals are more spontaneous, can be more controversial, are read more widely and are often the first or only appearance of expeditionary accounts and guidebook information.

American Alpine Journal
Alpine Journal
Canadian Alpine Journal
Climbing Magazine
Himalayan Journal
Mountain World 1946-1969
Mountain Magazine
Rock and Ice Magazine
Vulgarian Digest [Set the tone for underground books and magazines]

8000 Meter Peaks and Their Principal Books

These are the best books for the first ascents of the 8000 meter peaks.

Everest (8848 m; 29028 ft)

Hunt. The Ascent of Everest
Hillary. High Adventure
Noyce. South Col

K2 (8611 m; 28250 ft)

Desio. The Ascent of K2 or Victory Over K2
Bonatti. On The Heights

Kangchenjunga (8586 m; 28169 ft)

Evans. Kanchenjunga the Untrodden Peak
Brown. The Hard Years

Lhotse (8516 m; 27940 ft)

Eggler. The Everest Lhotse Adventure

Makalu (8463 m; 27766 ft)

Franco. Makalu

Dhaulagiri (8167 m; 26795 ft)

Eiselin. The Ascent of Dhaulagiri
Diemberger. Summits and Secrets

Manaslu (8163 m; 26781 ft)

J.A.C. Manaslu 1954-6
Yoda. Ascent of Manaslu in Photographs 1952-1956

Cho Oyu (8201 m; 26906 ft)

Tichy. Cho Oyu

Nanga Parbat (8125 m; 26660 ft)

Herrligkoffer. Nanga Parbat
Buhl. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage or Lonely Challenge

Annapurna (8091 m; 26545 ft)

Herzog. Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000 Meter Peak
Terray. Conquistadors of the Useless

Gasherbrum I (8068 m; 26470 ft)

Clinch. A Walk in the Sky

Broad Peak (8047 m; 26400 ft)

Diemberger. Summits and Secrets
Schmuck. Broad Peak, 8047M

Shisha Pangma (8046 m; 26397 ft)

A Photographic Record of the Mount Shishapangma Expedition

Gasherbrum II (8035 m; 26360 ft)

Moravec. Weisse Berge, Schwarze Menschen

Last updated: April 2, 2001