Consider this your syllabus for Mountaineering 101. Below, we've collected a literary canon with tales of adventure, miraculous survival, spiritual journeys, heart-wrenching losses, and timeless instruction on how best to sneak up on a summit and live to tell the tale. These authors — ranging from beatniks to bestsellers, celebrated climbers to average Joes — take you on an eloquent trek through moraines, into (yes, into) crevasses, up headwalls, all the way to the top and back. These books vary from sobering nonfiction and to vivid yarns; however, they each give glimpses into the zeitgeist of modern-day mountaineering: romance and bleak reality, heroism and cowardice, triumph and failure, death and survival.
1. Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition, Ed. Ronald C. Eng (The Mountaineers, 2010)
Before even lacing your boots and breaking out the ice axe, read this book! Most of the world's greatest climbers, alpinists, and mountaineers — from Dean Potter to Conrad Anker and Ed Viesturs — all maintain a biblical reverence for this book, having read earlier editions back when they were young, spry climbers. Indeed, in its 600 pages of climbing fundamentals, knot diagrams, belaying techniques, survival tips, and much, much more, Freedom of the Hills contains a scripture-like truth: "The quest of the mountaineer, in simplest terms, is for the freedom of the hills..."