Rock climbing is a sport which is best learned in the field, or the rock face as it were. No amount of reading will ever compare to actually conquering the rock, and making that climb. Like a lot of sports the hands-on approach wins hands-down every time. You can learn at centres, at the gym, and from instructors and tutors, and you can learn to face your own fears by working to your limits.

Like most sports, however, it is also incredibly useful to gain knowledge and ideas by reading around it. Experts have spent years bringing a solid foundation of climbing back down to Earth, and straight into your hands. You don’t need to make a lot of the mistakes that it would otherwise take hundreds of climbs to transcend. You don’t need to work out every technique for yourself. You don’t need to make dangerous errors. Experts and pros have already done all of the hard work for you, and they have written about it every step of the way.

In this post we are bringing to you five of the very best rock climbing books to supplement your journey from novice to expert. These books can help you in a very practical sense, as well as giving you useful perspectives.


Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills – Craig Luebben

This is well-known one of the greatest rock climbing books available to man, perfect for the beginner and those looking to make the move from the gym to the great outdoors. It is brimming with potent advice on techniques, and covers as diverse subjects such as: face climbing, crack climbing, knots, anchors, gearing, rappelling, bouldering, and much more. Mastering Basic Skills is written by an industry expert, the late Craig Luebben, a certified instructor, guide, and American Mountain Guide Associate. This book contains some of the best advice you could ever hope to find.

Mastering Basic Skills can be purchased on Kindle or in paperback, and is a serious must for any rock climber. With information, exercises, and with beautiful illustrations throughout, Luebben’s book encourages a safe and dynamic approach to climbing.

“A professional guide and industry innovator for over 20 years, Craig is an incredible resource for expert instruction. The updated techniques presented in this manual have been great for me, a climber for 8 years. There are beautiful climbing photos and close-up explanatory photos. This book won the National Book Award.” – Read more reviews


The Self Coached Climber: The Guide To Movement, Training And Performance – Dan Hague and Douglas Hunter

What most people really like about this book is that it really delves into the theory of climbing. It provides a whole new conceptual framework which you can apply to your own training program. It helps you to understand the very fundamentals of the techniques which it demonstrates, which is much more useful than trying to tell a climber to follow an exact set of instructions! Every climb is different, and therefore it is crucial to know how to climb on a fundamental level, and not just how to copy-cat a certain technique. Understanding Hague and Hunter’s ideas on balance, force, time, and space, will help you to adapt to almost any situation you’re faced with.

Self Coached Climber is available in paperback, and comes with a DVD which features a documentary, and a training video demonstrating the techniques and movements in the book.

“Out of all the climbing books I’ve gotten this is by far the best. I’ve been climbing 6 months and I’m leading 5.11 and bouldering v5s and up and id say its had a lot to do with this book! If you’re serious about climbing this is a must have.” -Read more reviews


The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training For Climbers- Arno Ilgner

This one is something completely different, but experts across any sport know how important it is. Our mental activity and our psychology has a direct effect on our performance. Dealing with these mental challenges is as important as any physical training. This becomes ever more important the moment you find yourself face-to-face with a huge route that you know will push you to your limits. Taking that first hold and keeping your head in the game right through to the end are imperative to completing monster routes.

Ilgner is an expert rock climber who has developed intricate philosophies and programs regarding mental training. This book will help you to improve your focus, risk evaluation, motivation, and transition into action, and delves deeply into the world of fear to show you how to overcome your own. Ilgner will turn you inwards and force you to look at your own mistakes and flaws. The result of understanding and applying his work is mental clarity, both in training and during a climb.

“I read this book when I first started rock climbing. As a long time fan of motivational and spiritual literature, I immediately related to the structure of this book. Although I appreciated the technical tips, it was the mental approaches to conquering my fears about leading and rock climbing that really encouraged me to continue and grow in this sport. Maybe because I am a woman, I have not found most climbing techniques books very useful since they seem to be geared to a more aggressive approach. If you love climbing for the joy and presence it gives you, and want to use your heart as well as your muscles to get better, this is the book for you!” – Read more reviews


Rock Climbing Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide- Craig Luebben
Another book by Craig Luebben (he has many!) this one is a comprehensive and specialized guide to anchors, going into fine details on hexes, wired nuts, tri-cams, wedges, natural anchors and much more. It is a rock-solid all-in-one anchor guide, and is part of the Mountaineers Outdoor Expert Series. It is extremely well illustrated, easy to follow, and a must for anyone serious about climbing.

“Very current and well organized book! Craig Luebben has obviously absorbed the new anchoring concepts that have cropped up recently and has helped me understand the advantages and disadvantages to each new method. A better book in my opinion than John Long’s new anchor book. Nicely illustrated and un-biased, this is the book I am recommending to my immediate/advanced clients. -Dave Lottmann, EMS Climbing Guide” – Read more reviews


9 Out Of 10 Climbers Make The Same Mistakes- Dave MacLeod

The title of this book gives you an idea of what’s to come. The author tackles the issues faced by climbers; the issues that have always been faced by climbers such as motivation and analysis of techniques. But it also tackles a modern problem in climbing. There is too much information, and not enough relevance! Enter Dave MacLeod, a legendary climber, trainer, and sports psychologist, to bring together a wealth of knowledge that helps you to become a better climber. It is perhaps the most advanced of our reviewed rock climbing books, not suitable for the early beginner, but could see a novice scale a mountain or two, and is great for the intermediate and expert climber.

“Honestly this is the best “how to be a better climber” book i have read. This book literally smacks you in the face with the obvious flaws in your training and climbing and tells you how to fix them. I recommend this to EVERY climber from a beginner to the top pros. If you have just started I might say wait till you have been climbing for 6 months before you read this.” – Read more reviews


So there you have it, our top 5 books for climbers. Regardless of your skill level and experience, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself as much as possible about your hobby to maintain the best level of growth for yourself not only as a climber, but as a person. You never know, you might learn a thing or two…