The best books about the climbing history of the Himalayas

Craig Storti Author Of The Hunt for Mount Everest
By Craig Storti

Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.


I wrote...

The Hunt for Mount Everest

By Craig Storti,

Book cover of The Hunt for Mount Everest

What is my book about?

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1850, but it would be 71 years before any westerner got closer than 40 miles of the famous peak. The Hunt for Mount Everest tells the gripping back story of the quest to find the world’s highest mountain and claim the last great prize in the history of exploration, climaxing one June morning in 1921 when George Mallory and Guy Bullock became the first westerners—and almost certainly the first people—ever to set foot on the mountain. It is a story of high drama, two disastrous wars, larger-than-life characters, a few quiet heroes, hundreds of mules, thousands of camels, and two zebrules—all playing out against a backdrop of the most spectacular geography on earth.

The books I picked & why

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Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

By Maurice Isserman, Stewart Weaver,

Book cover of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

Why this book?

If you’re a Himalayan enthusiast, this book is a must. Heck, even if you’re not yet an enthusiast, you will be after you start reading Fallen Giants. Its sweep is magnificent, its story-telling superb. You’d think this book would get repetitive, so many mountains and so many climbs, but you’d be wrong.


Everest: The Ultimate Book of the Ultimate Mountain

By Walt Unsworth,

Book cover of Everest: The Ultimate Book of the Ultimate Mountain

Why this book?

This is the Everest Bible. It has it all: every fact, every myth, every attempt, every failure, and the ultimate success. By rights, this book shouldn’t really work—so many attempts, so many near-misses, so many personality clashes, so many tragedies—but somehow it builds. The personalities are outsized, of course, the egos gigantic, and that helps, but the mountain is just too famous to ever be dull.


Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

By Wade Davis,

Book cover of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

Why this book?

For anyone interested in George Mallory and the famous first three British Everest expeditions, it doesn’t get any better than Into the Silence. The research here is unparalleled and unprecedented, yielding a level of detail not found in any other books on this topic. If you think you’ve read all there is to say about these expeditions, you may be surprised. It’s a real stunner.


The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest

By Ed Caesar,

Book cover of The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest

Why this book?

This book is of the incredible-but-true genre. A man who knows neither how to fly nor how to climb buys a plane which he plans to fly to India, crash land on the lower slopes of Everest, and climb the rest of the way to the top—all for the (married) woman he loves. Does he make it? What a question! It’s the premise that matters.


Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak

By Maurice Herzog,

Book cover of Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak

Why this book?

Annapurna is a classic: a classic book about a classic climb. Annapurna is only the 10th highest mountain in the world, but it is the most dangerous of all 14 of the giants, those peaks over 8,000 meters. It should not even have been attempted under the circumstances described in this book. But never mind: the odds were utterly against success. No worries on that front; the French—they were the ones trying—were never going to be the first to summit a giant. Only no one told them. (Craig Storti’s forthcoming book retells this classic tale.)


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in mountaineering, the Himalayas, and Mount Everest?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about mountaineering, the Himalayas, and Mount Everest.

Mountaineering Explore 22 books about mountaineering
The Himalayas Explore 19 books about the Himalayas
Mount Everest Explore 8 books about Mount Everest

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Alone on the Ice, Touching the Void, and Born to Run if you like this list.