Mountain Project Logo

Good Climbing Novels?

Original Post
Harri · · Karperö · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5


does anyone have suggestions on worthwhile climbing/mountaineering-related novels? I've read things like Solo Faces, The Wall, and The Ice Soldier, but beyond those, I haven't come across too many novels that would have climbing (or mountain sports in general) in a central role, and certainly haven't come across "serious" literature that would depict climbing. I'm writing a dissertation on representations of male mountaineers and the environment and would like to include novels as part of my material. So, any suggestions are much appreciated!


Harri Salovaara (

Tee Kay · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 110

Chris Kalman is coming out with As Above, So Below  soon. Its gonna be a short book, but it is fiction.

ChrisMurphy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mt. McKinley


I think both of these were fantastic and it will give you some climbing history

abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 154

The OP is specifically asking about novels, so I'm assuming they want fiction?

There's lots of great non-fiction works (some already posted) but I'm not aware of any climbing fiction.

Tagg C · · Choss, USA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 551

starlight and storm by Gaston Rébuffat

Matthew Williams 1 · · Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 85

Yeah the fiction is a lot more sparse, but for non-fiction don't miss Harrer's "The White Spider" and more recently Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" is awfully good.  Great climbing writing like that is almost always going to be about bigger themes of human struggle like the "why" of climbing, hubris, failure, adventure and sacrifice.   

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Assuming novel == fiction.

Some of the old James Ramsey Ullman stuff - sort of flowery but influential for a lot of us oldsters.

Not full length - but for writing a lot of John Long stuff is entertaining.

simplyput . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Since people seem to be confused:

a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

J H · · Washington · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I really enjoyed The Abominable by Dan Simmons. It was a huge book and went into great detail about early mountaineering techniques. It's considered historical fiction and it's what really got me interested in climbing and mountaineering. Here's the synopsis:

It's 1924 and the race to summit the world's highest mountain has been brought to a terrified pause by the shocking disappearance of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine high on the shoulder of Mt. Everest. By the following year, three climbers -- a British poet and veteran of the Great War, a young French Chamonix guide, and an idealistic young American -- find a way to take their shot at the top. They arrange funding from the grieving Lady Bromley, whose son also disappeared on Mt. Everest in 1924. Young Bromley must be dead, but his mother refuses to believe it and pays the trio to bring him home.
Deep in Tibet and high on Everest, the three climbers -- joined by the missing boy's female cousin -- find themselves being pursued through the night by someone . . . or something. This nightmare becomes a matter of life and death at 28,000 feet - but what is pursuing them? And what is the truth behind the 1924 disappearances on Everest? As they fight their way to the top of the world, the friends uncover a secret far more abominable than any mythical creature could ever be. A pulse-pounding story of adventure and suspense, The Abominable is Dan Simmons at his spine-chilling best.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 170

Solo Faces, by James Salter an actual novel. Very good.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 150

"A Soldier of the Great War" has fairly accurate depiction of early 20th century climbing as it follows an Italian Alpini during WWI. A fairly accurate historical depiction of the Alto Adige campaign in a somewhat fantastical novel and a fun read. 

mcarizona · · Flag · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 180

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,306

I work in a library, so my reply is ask a librarian. They can get you on worldcat (massive catalog) and help you search.

But, just on our catalog in Boise, I tried "mountaineering -- fiction" and got 27 entries. Some will be duplicates, or irrelevant, but they are out there. Goofy cover art, most of them. ;-)

One of the few times I'm doing my job while wasting time on MP!

Best, Helen

Harri · · Karperö · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

Thanks very much for the many useful suggestions! I'd heard of Ullman but forgot about him. The Abominable by Dan Simmons seems interesting, I'll check it out. I'll keep digging online but if anyone has more suggestions, I'll be happy to hear them!

RichBeBe · · New York City, NY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 1

If anyone has any children Peak, by Roland Smith is a good little novel. Some great themes and about climbing Everest. I co-worker has read it to her elementary school classes.

Harry Netzer · · Los Angeles · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 135

The Ascent of F6 is a somewhat famous play from ‘36 about a mountaineering expedition on a fictional mountain. Wikipedia says “ It has been seen as a parable about will, leadership and the nature of power: matters of increasing concern in Europe as that decade progressed[1].”

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,306

Harri, a database search will give you fun results! At a glance, most are adventure/thriller themed (no surprise there) novels for adults, but perhaps about a third are kids books.

Fitting your theme of how male mountaineers are portrayed though, there are also some steamy looking romances! 

So yes, guys, you fuel a fantasy or two.... in theory at least. :-)

Best, Helen

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Good Climbing Novels?"

Log In to Reply