Book Review: Two Climbing Books For Your Collection

Okay, I’m incredibly far behind on writing some book reviews, and I’m going to try to do some catching up as soon as I can. I’ll take a couple of books with me when I head out of the country at the end of the week, but I wanted to post a couple of reviews before hand, and these two books go together very well for a number of reasons. Both books come from the same author, Clyde Soles, and both are part of the Mountaineers Outdoor Expert Series from The Mountaineers Books.

Climbing: Training for Peak Performance by Clude Soles
Let me start off by saying unequivocally that this is the best book I’ve seen in regards to fitness for climbers. The book covers everything you could ever want to know about training for climbing, including diet, aerobic workout, resistance training, flexibility and so much more, and the chapters are filled with so much good information, that you’ll constantly be finding new things to add to your preparation for the mountains.

The book begins with a great introduction on the fundamentals of exercise in the general sense, and it’s application to climbing specifically. It also touches on a number of other topics, such as how important conditioning can be to the aging climber and the importance of getting everything to work together for you for higher performance on the mountain. The intro sets up a number of themes that run throughout the book, not the least of which is to always have fun in both your training and your climbing. Something we probably all agree with.

The chapters on the workout routines are comprehensive, to say the least, and geared toward climbers of all styles and skill levels. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or heading to the Himalaya, you’ll find some things in this book that will be of help. Clyde does an excellent job of breaking down the things that work and don’t work, and streamlining it for the rest of us. For instance, in the chapter on aerobic exercise, he looks at all the options available to us, including trail running, road running, cycling, and so on, and quickly and easily lays out the pros and cons of each of them. It’s a great reference even if you’re a non-climber.

While the exercise focused chapters are excellent, there were two others that really caught my attention. The second chapter of the book is focused on nutrition and it’s importance to your over all conditioning, and it has some incredibly helpful information on planning for your dietary needs. Many climbers don’t make a plan when it comes to their diet, as conventional wisdom has always said that it’s important to have plenty of calories, but Clyde notes that it’s not just how much you eat, but what you eat as well, and paying attention to those needs can improve performance in a lot of ways. This is a chapter that I highly recommend for anyone who is already a climber, but is looking for ways to improve endurance and performance. Of particular interest would be the section on “fueling the climb”.

The other chapter that I found particularly interesting was the third, which focuses on the mental aspects of preparing for a climb. By focusing on mental conditioning, you see the holistic approach that the author is a proponent of, bringing all aspects of body and mind together to make us better prepared for all of our athletic endeavors. Clyde mentions that some of these mental conditioning techniques come from martial arts and yoga, and perhaps that’s why I related so well to this chapter. My years of martial arts training made it easy for me to understand what he was trying to achieve. It’s another chapter that will likely have something to offer even those that are already in terrific shape.

Other valuable information in the book include the chapter on climbing at altitude, which offers some great advice on helping to improve the acclimatization process, and the chapter on rest and recovery is excellent as well, reminding us why we need to take some time off on occasion as well. The final chapter brings everything together, building synergy on everything we’ve learned in the previous chapters.

In case you couldn’t tell, I was very impressed with this book. Exercise manuals don’t tend to be highly interesting to me, but this one is so much more than that. I really enjoyed the whole approach to preparing for climbing, and found valuable information on nearly every page. If you’re a climber, and haven’t read this book, then I suggest you order it. NOW! Here, I’ll even make it simple for you. Click here to go to the Amazon page.

Climbing: Expedition PLanning by Clyde Soles and Phil Powers
Clyde teams up with Phil Powers on this second book that I personally found simply fascinating in so many ways. This book takes a look at every aspect of preparing for an expedition, from the early stages when it is just a dream, to planning and preparing, putting the right team together, researching the mountain, and so much more. No part of an expedition is left undiscussed, and once again we get invaluable information that for many of us, we’d only have considered after years of experience.

Of course, the book doesn’t just focus on the preparation for the climb and all the aspects that go into planning the expedition. Several of the most valuable chapters also look at what it’s like once you depart on the trip, taking a nicely detailed look at the logistics that go into getting all your gear to the country of your destination, and then on to base camp. The authors look at all manner of important topics, including trekking to BC, communications in the field, and even how to set up the latrine.

As if that wasn’t enough, the book then takes a look at the last stage of the expedition, namely getting to the summit, and even what comes afterwards, with some insights on giving post climb speeches and slide shows, ending it all with thoughts of starting it all over again for that next expedition.

Much like Climbing: Training for Peak Performance, this book is also packed cover to cover with really great information, but unlike that book, I think this one will appeal to an even larger audience. There are so many wonderful sidebars and charts that offer up great insights, that even the arm chair mountaineer will be fascinated by the wealth of knowledge contained in the book. And for those planning an expedition of their own, this guide serves as a great resource, whether you’re planning your first expedition or your tenth.

Once again, if you read and enjoy mountaineering books, than you should have this one in your collection. While it might not be as action packed as something like Into Thin Air, it will give you a behind the scenes look at what happens before, during, and after a major expedition. Clyde and Phil make the book and its subject matter very interesting, and you’ll learn more than you ever thought you would about the logistics of high altitude mountaineering.

Grab this book by clicking here.

On a final note, thanks to Clyde for being patient and understanding with how long it took to get these books read and reviewed. I appreciate you sending these my way and learned a ton from both of them. Great work!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Two Climbing Books For Your Collection”

  1. I've read them both & they're both excellent. The expedition planning book is just awesome – we're even using some of the tips for our next 14er trip even though it's far short of an expedition. There's just a ton of good tips in the book for all climbers.

  2. I so agree with you John. Some great stuff in both books, and they are both fascinating in so many ways. Can’t recommend them highly enough, and as I said, I think any expedition, no matter the length, can learn something from that book.

  3. Any time Clyde. Sorry it took a bit to get them, but they were well worth the wait. Wonderful and insightful stuff that I haven’t seen compiled into single books anywhere else.

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