Recommended Mountaineering Books for Beginners

These recommended mountaineering books for beginners comprise our collection of resources for those just starting out on their mountaineering adventures.

Recommended mountaineering books for beginners on base camp magazine

Nothing will help turn you into an experienced mountaineer like actual hands-on practice and experience. But, it’s not safe to just head out without even the least amount of knowledge on the subject. That’s why we’re introducing you to a few books that will get you on your way to mountaineering, with great technical content and instructional guides.

The books on this list are perfect for new to intermediate mountaineers, however, they are great companions to experienced mountaineers as well. There’s no such thing as too much education.

We’ve included previews of some of these selections below, so feel free to scan through the pages and get to know them.

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills 2017

According to Conrad Anker, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills is “The definitive guide to climbing.” It has been hailed as the Bible of mountaineering, and this 2017 edition has been revised to include new techniques and illustrations. This book is the perfect companion for the new and intermediate climber.

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills was produced with the review of active climbers and instructors, as well as the American Alpine Club (AAC), the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), the Access Fund and professional members of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills Book Description Excerpt

“From gear selection to belay and repel techniques, from glacier travel to rope work, to safety, safety, and more safety―there is no more comprehensive and thoroughly vetted training manual for climbing than the standard set by Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 9th Edition.”

There are some companion items you might want to consider for this book. The Mountaineers also created a playing card deck with essential tips and knowledge, as well as a pocket guide to serve as a field reference.

The Mountaineering Handbook: Modern Tools and Techniques That Will Take You to the Top

For beginners, The Mountaineering Handbook offers a modern approach to tool guides and techniques that will help you navigate mountainous terrain for a proper, successful summit. This book is aimed at both novice and experienced climbers. For the beginner, it offers a concise reference on how to get started. For the experienced mountaineer, there are new techniques and updated tips to refresh your knowledge.

The Mountaineering Handbook includes content on how to manage mountain hazards like avalanches and possible high altitude sickness.

The Mountaineering Handbook Description Excerpt

“The Mountaineering Handbook isn’t mired in outdated traditionalism; its new-school techniques are safer, more effective, and more fun for mountaineers at every level. With a constant emphasis on light, fast, and efficient mountaineering, Craig Connally shows you how to move quickly up and down rock, snow, and ice with appropriate safety systems. Learn about managing mountain hazards, including rockfall, avalanche, lightning, and high-altitude illness. Select the best equipment for your personal style and objectives. Maintain sound nutrition and training according to the most up-to-date science. Understand the human factors of mountaineering–the social and psychological forces that influence critical decisions”

The Mountain Guide Manual: The Comprehensive Reference–From Belaying to Rope Systems and Self-Rescue

Although The Mountain Guide Manual is designed for mountain guides, it also makes a good reference for mountaineers.

Inside are the essentials for knot tying, trip preparation, belaying, mountain safety and more.

Written by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association, the content inside is both for novice and experienced recreationists and guides. It is a dense and comprehensive book that covers many aspects and material that other books don’t. Readers will learn about short-roping techniques, terrain transitions, and more. The book proves to be valuable for recreational mountaineers, climber and guides.

The Mountain Guide Book Description Excerpt

“Written by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) certified mountain guides Marc Chauvin and Rob Coppolillo, The Mountain Guide Manual is the go-to reference for novice and experienced mountain guides, as well as advanced recreationists. Covering everything from rope systems and belaying to advice on group dynamics and rescuing, the manual combines practical how-to instruction with clear graphics, illustrations, and awe-inspiring alpine imagery.”

Glacier Mountaineering: An Illustrated Guide to Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue

One of our favorites for its unique take on instructional mountaineering style, Glacier Mountaineering is a great first-guide to (as the title says) glacial mountaineering. If you take a look at the sample we’ve included below, you’ll see that most of the pages are illustrated in comical, yet accurate depictions of how to navigate on the ice and how to identify potential threats and good camping grounds. Glacier Mountaineering is a winner of the 2005 National Outdoor Book Awards (alternate cover).

Glacier Mountaineering Book Description Excerpt

“Providing critical instruction for anyone planning to travel over glacier country―from the Cascades to the Rockies to Denali―this book will guide and entertain readers through glacier anatomy, equipment, route finding, and rescue techniques.”

Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book: A Guide to Staying Safe in Avalanche Terrain

Produced in the same style, Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book is a safety guide designed to teach the avid mountaineer about avalanche safety, what to look for and how to stay safe on the ice. The book is part of the Allen and Mike Series, which features many accurate illustrations on almost every page. This book is illustrated by the same illustrator of Glacier Mountaineering, Mike Clelland.

Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book Description Excerpt

“With years of experience as NOLS instructors to draw on, Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland team up to give winter recreationists the information they need to stay safe in the backcountry, including how to prepare for your trip, proper equipment and how to use it, snowpack assessment, choosing safe travel routes, decision making, and rescue scenarios.”

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other recommendations we have about mountaineering and climbing reading selections.

Keep Reading:

Downloadable Essential Mountaineering Gear List

General Mountain Safety Tips for Hikers

How to Ride Your First PNW Volcano


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One response to “Recommended Mountaineering Books for Beginners

  1. Very nice post with some great suggestions.

    Should I also add in the list a couple of books for Weather and forecasting?

    1. Predicting weather by Lisa Densmore
    2. Mountain Weather – Backcountry Forecasting – Jeff Renner
    3. Weather – Storm Dunlop

    Hopefully your readers will be interested on understanding and predicting weather patterns in the mountains.


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