Mt. Everest is one of the mountains that calls out to people to climb it or read about it. Anyone who has climbed has probably read at least two or three books about it. Most people are familiar with it’s story and history.
Sagarmatha or Chomolungma or Everest, it’s all the same mountain. George Mallory said it best when asked by a reporter why he wanted to climb it, “Because it’s there…” There’s something about that inspires people for many different reasons. Every person climbing it has a different story.
Though I have a complete list of books about Mt. Everest, I thought I would gather up my favorites. These are the books any adventurer or climber should read. They will inspire and some will be sad. But every expedition has a story. And there is just something about Mt. Everest that draws people in.
Best Books Every Person Should Read about Mt. Everest
Here are my favorite books about Mt. Everest. Is there a favorite that you don’t see here? Leave me the name of the book in the comments or you can see if it’s on my other Everest book list.
1. “The Next Everest” by Jim Davidson
I interviewed Jim Davidson last year for my podcast. His book “The Next Everest: Surviving the Mountain’s Deadliest Day and Finding the Resilience to Climb Again”, is very inspiring. He was on Everest during the 2015 Everest disaster, when a 7.8 earthquake caused avalanches on Mt. Everest and at Everest Base Camp. You can find out more about Jim Davidson at his website.
2. “Everest: It’s Not About the Summit” by Ellis James Stewart
Ellis Stewart it one of the nicest guys I have interview for the podcast. I loved his story about climbing Mt. Everest in “Everest: It’s Not About the Summit”. He has such a scrappiness about him and he’s very inspiring. I mean, he crowd funded both of his Everest attempts and has created the largest online Everest community. He tried both in 2014 and 2015 to climb Mt. Everest, which were both disastrous years for loss of life on Everest. Ellis is coming out with a new Everest book this year, so stay tuned.
3. “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer
Jon’s Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” is probably the most well-know book about Everest and about the 1996 Everest disaster, which at the time was the deadliest day and deadliest season on Mt. Everest. There has been much controversy about what actually happened on the mountain and why so many people died.
4. “Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Leigh Mallory” by George Leigh Mallory
This book has become my new favorite. George Mallory wasn’t just a mountaineer, he was also a writer. Mallory had published several articles for the main mountaineering journals before his death. Included in “Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory”, are his letters home from all of his expeditions including Everest and his articles. Mallory wrote often to his wife while he was away. He has a beautiful writing style.
5. “The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest” by Ed Caesar
Not everyone’s Everest journey is the same, and for Maurice Wilson, it was unique. Suffering from what he had experienced during WWI, he struggled with life. In 1933, he decided that he would fly to the summit of Everest. This plan gave him hope and his story is like no other including crashing his plane and disguising himself as a Buddhist monk. Wilson died in 1934 and his journal was recovered the following year. I highly recommend reading ” The Moth and the Mountain”.
6. “Epics on Everest: Stories of Survival from the World’s Highest Peak” by Clint Willis
This collection of stories was first published for the 50th anniversary of the firts summit of Mt. Everest. As I said before, every person’s story is different. There is tragedy or triumph with every summit or summit attempt. Clint Willis compiled several of these stories in the “Epics of Everest: Stories of Survival from the World’s Highest Peak”.
7. “High Adventure: The True Story of the First Ascent of Everest” by Sir Edmund Hillary
It’s the 70th anniversary this year of the first summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The two couldn’t have been more different, the tall beekeeper from New Zealand and the modest mountaineer from Nepal. “High Adventure” is about Edmund’s Hillary’s journey to the top of the world.
8. “Blind Descent: Surviving Alone and Blind on Mount Everest” by Brian Dickinson
There are several dangers on Mt. Everest including snow blindness, exhaustion, and the Death Zone. So what happens when you are all alone trying to descend from the summit in the Death Zone? Brian Dickinson used his background and training from being a Navy air rescue swimmer to slowly work his way down. “Blind Descent” is a true 21st-century survival story.
9. “The Crystal Horizon: Everest- The First Solo Ascent” by Reinhold Messner
Reinhold Messner is an old-school mountaineering purist with his alpine-style climbing. He became the first person to summit Everest solo and without oxygen. He is a legend in the mountaineering world. His book “The Crystal Horizon” should be read by anyone who loves Mt. Everest. Messner is legendary and has been featured in several documentaries about Everest.
10. “Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest” by Beck Weathers with Stephen G. Michaud
When everything went wrong, Beck Weathers was on the same climbing team as Jon Krakauer during the 1996 Everest expedition. He survived the night out in the open in the blizzard. But he was left for dead along with Yasuko Namba. Miraculously, he survived and somehow found camp. Then he was almost left again. Not only is his survival story in “Left for Dead” unforgettable, but I will never forget how his wife Peach played a role in this book just by being his wife.
11. “Rising: Becoming the First North American Woman on Everest” by Sharon Wood
I wish there were more books written by women about Mt. Everest, but only 25% of climbers are women. In 1986, Sharon Wood became the first North American woman to summit Mt. Everest and the first woman to summit the Western ridge. Wood reflects in her books “Risen” about her 70 days on the mountain and everything she learned and experienced.
12. “Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest’s Deadliest Day” by Jennifer Hull
Dave Hahn is legendary in the mountaineering community. He was on Mt. Everest during the 2015 Everest disaster, which is currently the deadliest day of the deadliest season of Mt. Everest. An earthquake hit Nepal, including on the mountain and at Everest Base Camp. “Shook,” tells the story of David and his team during the deadly day.
13. “Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season” by Nick Heil
David Sharp’s death in 2006 on Mt. Everest has been one of the most controversial topics about Mt. Everest. Sharp was climbing on his own and became distressed. Several people may have stopped to help him but he dies on the mountain anyway. When you are in the Death Zone, the question is do you save yourself or save someone else? “Dark Summit” gets into all of the deaths, the morals and the ethics regarding the 2006 climbing season. The 2007 documentary “Dying for Everest” is also about David Sharp.
14. “Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest” by Jamling Tenzing Norgay
The Sherpa community is vital the success of mountaineering on Mt. Eversest. Their contributions and successes are often overlooked, including Tenzing Norgay being the the first to summit Everest with Edmund Hillary. His son, Jamlimg Tenzing Norgay, is also a mountaineer and was leading the IMAX team during the 1996 Everest disaster. His story and the untold stories of his father’s summit are interwoven in “Touching My Father’s Soul”. The book really highlights how important the Sherpas are.
15. “Dead Lucky – Life After Death on Mount Everest” by Lincoln Hall
How would you feel if you discovered that your family member had died on Mt. Everest? And as you are grieving you then discover he hadn’t? Lincoln Hall was pronounced dead, but the next day he had apparently come back to life. This is one of my favorite Everest books and reminds me of the story of beck Weathers as well. “Dead Lucky” is one of the best Everest books.
Mt. Everest is the highest mountain on earth. Every experience on it is very different. Not everyone makes it to the top, but their stories are all inspiring. If I missed one of your favorite books, please let me know in the comments. And also, be sure to check out the “All About Everest” podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts. We hope you enjoyed this lest of the best books about Mt. Everest.