We have a number of questions dealing with how start climbing, how to learn it (and how not to learn it) - e.g. Is it realistic to teach yourself rock climbing?, What to teach someone who wants to start lead climbing?, Reference request: books on self-rescue while climbing

Regardless from how I am practising and learning climbing, I would be happy to read one or two good books (or online courses, or other comparable resources) about the topic, since I really enjoy learning from books. The things I am mostly interested in are climbing safety, technique and tactics for sports and trad climbing. I am not so much interested in mountaneering or bouldering.

Could you recommend any books, maybe including some details about the books' focus and content and what makes it recommendable?

(Since not all of our users have english as their mothertongue, I think including great books in foreign languages would be a good idea.)

  • Hi Paul! Are you looking only for resources that people here have used, or things we might be able to find online that have been reviewed by people who have used them? Also, do you have any other specific languages in mind? Thanks! Apr 9, 2017 at 20:37
  • @Sue : Hi, I am looking for resources people can recommend, wether that is from own experience or from a very review they read. Like anything you would recommend to a friend. For me, German is of particular interest, but I wouldn't limit it to this. Apr 10, 2017 at 10:51
  • 3
    I am a little confused this hasn't been brought up: Isn't this a unsuitable list question just as outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/15817/3602 ? There is a broad range of possible recommendations and there is no "correct" answer. In my opinion the only way to keep this open is by making just one community answer (that becomes a kind of compendium), just as in the linked question.
    – imsodin
    Apr 10, 2017 at 19:00
  • @imsodin If I'm reading your comment correctly, I agree with you. I've been thinking it's too broad or opinion-based, and, that there's not really one right answer. How would the community judge (vote for or against) resources that are just a book cover or online review, even though that's what Paul asked for. I also agree that it should have one community-wiki answer. That way the list can be edited at any time, and noone gets or loses any rep. Apr 11, 2017 at 2:17
  • @imsodin I understand your objection and would be fine with a single community wiki answer. Apr 12, 2017 at 10:51

3 Answers 3


The Textbook/Bible of Mountaineering:

The standard book is Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. That book covers all of the basics for rock climbing and a lot more topics.

From the chapter titles of the eighth edition, it covers a lot of topics and I have highlighted the relevant chapters.


  • First Steps
  • Clothing and Equipment
  • Camping and Food
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Navigation -Wilderness Travel
  • Leave No Trace
  • Stewardship and Access
  • Basic Safety System
  • Belaying
  • Rappelling
  • Alpine Rock Climbing Technique
  • Rock Protection
  • Leading on Rock
  • Aid and Big Wall Climbing
  • Snow Travel and Climbing
  • Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue
  • Alpine Ice Climbing
  • Waterfall and Mixed Climbing
  • Expedition Climbing
  • Leadership
  • Safety: How to Stay Alive
  • First Aid
  • Alpine Search and Rescue
  • Mountain Geology
  • The Cycle of Snow
  • Mountain Weather
  • 2
    Could you maybe add a little info about the books you are recommending? Like what they cover, or why freedom of the hills is a standard book? Apr 10, 2017 at 10:49
  • @PaulPaulsen He's not recommending multiple books, he is recommending one book, which is a comprehensive textbook about mountaineering and essentially the Bible of Alpinism.
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 11, 2017 at 20:25
  • @ShemSeger originally, he recommended also ADVANCED ROCK CLIMBING Expert Skills And Techniques. Apr 12, 2017 at 10:56

Libby peters Rock Climbing: Essential Skills & Techniques is the main resource for UK mountain leader qualifications. Covers all the essential skills for rock climbing. This is very much from the ground up, so has knots, belaying technique to placing trad gear and building belays, etc.

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This is the official handbook of 'the Mountaineering Instructor, Single Pitch, Climbing Wall and Climbing Wall Leading Award Schemes'. Written by one of the best known rock climbing instructors in the UK this is the definitive and comprehensive 'how to rock climb' textbook, now in its revised and updated second edition. It covers un-roped bouldering and movement skills as well as every aspect of single and multi-pitch rock climbing, abseiling, problem solving, the climbing environment, the history and development of the sport and much more. This book is a reference tool for every climber, from novice to expert, as well as containing specific ideas for anyone wanting to help coach and instruct others. It is the official handbook for the UK qualification system that includes 'the Mountaineering Instructor, Climbing Wall, Single Pitch and Climbing Wall Leader Awards and is endorsed by the BMC, MCofS and MI. Revised throughout there are additional chapters on Sport Climbing, Sea Level Traversing, Ropes Courses and Via Ferrata, Adaptive Techniques for Disabled Climbers, Injury Avoidance, Improving Technique, Risk Management and the Law and Working with Young People. It has a functional design with easy-reference colour-coded pages, striking illustrations that complement the text and inspiring photos that give a genuine flavour of the breadth of climbing possibilities across Britain and Ireland. It is the second of a series of manuals from Mountain Leader Training UK that includes the highly successful 'Hill Walking' and 'Winter Skills'.

From Amazon

To highlight one big difference between this and the book recommended by Charlie Brumbaugh. This is aimed a lot more at UK climbers. We don't really have alpine, big wall or aid climbing in this country. So this is more for Sport and Trad climbers and Boulderers which are the main sports in the UK. There is a winter equiverlant too


9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes, by DaveMcLeod focuses very much on one thing: how to get better at climbing, mostly from a mental and organizational point of view. The author sometimes gets rambling at times, but undeniably gives good and well-founded advice. If you're serious about pushing your grades, it's a must read.

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