World (Mountaineering) Book Day

7th Mar 2013


It's World Book Day and, as we demolished tea and cake in this morning's meeting, we got rather distracted thinking about mountaineering literature.  

We've read a fair few climbing books over the years and there is a host of great mountaineering literature out there but in the end we had to admit defeat.  Choosing a single book proved as difficult as picking a favourite song or food. Different books seem to suit certain moods or times in our lives.  

So, like all good meetings, we simply moved the goalposts and decided to choose 3 classic texts instead!  Therefore, in our humble opinion (and no particular order), here are three amazing books written by (or about) mountaineers and their monumental contributions to vertical history. Books that have touched us, inspired us, scared us and certainly entertained us.  

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Peak Mountaineering's World Book Day reading list.......

First up is Savage Arena by Joe Tasker.  Joe was a legendary mountaineer and this is his amazing account of some of his expeditions and ascents.  The Eiger North Face in winter, Dunagiri, stunning ascent of the West Face of Chanagabng. Kanchenjunga and a fight for survival on K2.  Joe was a superbly talented mountaineer and, it turned out, a brilliant writer too.  

He tragically lost his life on Everest in 1982 and this book was finished just before he left.  Tragic that he left us so young and tragic that he never got chance to write more books of this quality.  At the time of it's publication Chris Bonington described it as 'the most riveting book on climbing that I have ever read'.  High praise and a must read for every climber.

Our second choice is Regions Of The Heart by David Rose and Ed Douglas.  The book chronicles the life of Alison Hargreaves and it's a moving portrayal of an inspirational climber and young mother.  Alison lost her life in tragic circumstances on K2 in 1995 and a media storm followed as commentators viciously criticised her choice to climb dangerous mountains despite having a young family.  

Regions Of The Heart is a riveting read and an essential book as it helps to balance the ridiculous press character assassination that happened at the time.  We challenge you not to have tears in your eye as you read it.

Finally,  our third choice is one that needs little introduction.  The one and only White Spider by Heinrich Harrer.  Harrer was one of the four man party who, after many tragic attempts by other teams, ascended the North Face of the Eiger in July 1938.  

It was a desperate fight for survival and Harrer has a knack of making the reader feel like they are there on the mountain with the team.  It is a beautifully written account of one of the most ground breaking ascents in history and Harrer also takes the opportunity to chronicle some of the other epic attempts on the wall.  Oh, and if the writing doesn't get to you, the photo of Hermann Buhl on the second Ice Fall surely will!

Happy reading.


Posted by Paul