Women’s Climbing & Mountaineering Book Roundup

Memoirs, Biographies, and Anthologies By & About Woman Climbers

It’s easy to feel like climbing has always been a male-dominated pursuit, but women climbers have been there the entire time too—leading pitches, discovering new routes, setting records, displaying immense amounts of skill, strength, and courage. This list of women’s climbing books takes readers from the steepest pitches to the world’s tallest and harshest mountain peaks, in celebration of each of these women climbers and mountaineers and their unique stories.

Check out our BOOKS + MEDIA tag for more reading recommendations or—better yet—head over to our page for She Explores on Bookshop.org where we’ve curated even more book lists.

Note: We love Bookshop.org because they support local bookstores and small businesses like ours. We earn a small commission on book purchases that helps fund the time and expenses of curating these lists and keeping this site online at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting us & independent book sellers!


Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing by Lauren DeLaunay Miller (2022) — CLIMBING

Editor and climber Lauren DeLaunay Miller brings together nearly forty stories that illustrate the past century of women climbers in Yosemite Valley—because “women have always been at the center of Yosemite: climbing, crafting equipment, and establishing new routes.” 

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End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood by Jan Redford (2019) — CLIMBING

Rock climber Jan Redford reflects on her life as a young climber, then wife and mother, as she navigates her way through the masculine world of climbing to lead groups and pitches and find her own route through it all.

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In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (2022) — MOUNTAINEERING

Struggling with alcoholism, hiding her sexuality from her family, and grappling with past abuse, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado started climbing. The risk and spirit and size of the mountains woke her up, and she decided to take her pain to Everest—and to take a group of other young female survivors along with her.

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High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity by Steph Davis (2007) — CLIMBING

From a tent in Patagonia to the towering walls of Yosemite, High Infatuation follows Davis’s career in climbing and reveals pieces of her soul via stories of love, friendship, and empowerment. 

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Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill (2003) — CLIMBING

In 1994, Lynn completed a climb that no one (man or woman) has been able to repeat: the first free ascent of the Nose on Yosemite’s El Capitan. She writes about this famous climb, and how she harnesses strength and courage to establish routes that few can follow.

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Space Below My Feet by Gwen Moffat (2014) — MOUNTAINEERING

Beginning in the 1940s, Gwen Moffat hitchhiked and climbed her way around the UK and greater Europe with little more than rope and a sleeping bag—going on to become Britain’s leading female climber and the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.

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The Girl Who Climbed Everest: Lessons Learned Facing Up to the World’s Toughest Mountains by Bonita Norris (2017) — MOUNTAINEERING

This mountaineering memoir from the youngest woman to climb Everest is a deep dive into her experience of self-doubt and recovery from an eating disorder, into discovering her passion for climbing, and the ambition, risk, and courage it took to summit the world’s tallest mountain.

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Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei by Junko Tabei, Helen Y. Rolfe, Yumiko Hiraki (translator), Riieko Holtved (translator) (2017) — MOUNTAINEERING

Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest. Her memoir is humble and poetic in its recount of the Seven Summits and others she climbed throughout her life. 

“Whether I wanted it to be or not, our climb became a symbol of women’s social progress.”

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Edge of the Map: the Mountain Life of Christine Boskoff by Johanna Garton (2020) — MOUNTAINEERING

Christine Boskoff was a rarity in her time—a woman leading otherwise all-male expeditions. This intensely researched biography chronicles her climbing career, relationships, and ultimate disappearance that gripped the world.

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Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life by Arlene Blum (2005) — MOUNTAINEERING

Renowned mountaineer and author of Anapurna: A Woman’s Place led the first all-female teams on successful ascents of Anapurna I, Mount McKinley, and an attempt of Everest—while also working as a groundbreaking scientist leading legislation banning carcinogens in children’s sleepwear. This is her memoir.

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How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi, illustrated by Yao Xiao (2020) — CLIMBING

An illustrated book for young readers, this might not quite fit with the rest of the longform memoirs and biographies, but we couldn’t help but include this book too. Authored by one of the world’s youngest and most skilled climbers, How to Solve a Problem challenges young readers to rise to greater heights.

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What other women’s climbing books are on your list?

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