"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, Why then do we read it? A book must be the ice axe to break the sea frozen within us" Franz Kafka

Climbing is an intense experience. Many literary attempts fall short in describing these experiences because of the difficulty describing them with words. However some books are exceptional. The list below may have missed a few classics. The following climbing books hammered my skull.

The White Spider
By Heinrich Harrer
If you read one climbing book, read this one. Great classic of the history of the Eiger north face. Reading this book inspired me to take up climbing.

Touching the Void
By Joe Simpson
If this were fiction, I would dismiss it as being too imaginative. However, it is not fiction. It is a personal account of a self-rescue from an impossible situation.

And One for the Crow
By John Redhead
In word and image, not only an account of Redheads climbs but a thought provoking and stimulating work by this talented climber and artist. He would probably hate what I just said.

Starlight and Storm
By Gaston Rebuffat
Account of climbing the six great North faces of the Alps. Rebuffat brought a different philosophy from the assault and conquer mentality of the earlier German and British climbers to a more sensory experiential approach.

Feeding the Rat
Al Alvarez
Fascinating account of the life of Mo Antoine, the legendary British climber that explores his risk taking motivation. Mo used the metaphor of rats gnawing within him to describe his passion for climbing.

Dark Shadows Falling
By Joe Simpson
Using Everest as a metaphor, Simpson explores fundamental issues from all angles. No holds barred! This is a frank and honest account. The best book to read in regard to the present day circus on Everest.

How to be a Master Climber
Pat Ament
Ament has presented the essence of climbing in a unique and interesting form.

Beyond the Vertical
Layton Kor
This is a fantastic compilation of Layton Korís photo collection by this legendary climber. The sections on the Dolomites and the desert sandstone were spectacular.

Performance Rock Climbing
Udo Neumann and Dale Goddard
The best rock climbing training book available in English. Covers all aspects of training.

Wolfgang Gullich A Life in the Vertical
Tilmann Hepp
Biography of the late Gullichís climbing life in word and photo.

Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs
John Long
Tales from Largo always keep me interested.

Bob Bennell
May 6, 2000


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