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I spend a lot of my time researching various peaks online to prepare for the next trip…and while that is great when I am trying to avoid doing homework, it can be a bit tedious. Here is a list of sites (and a few irreplaceable books) that I frequently use find peak, hike, and climb information.


Summitpost is an awesome tool to find everything you need to know about a peak. Access, routes, red tape, photos, and trip reports are all available here. They also have a small but very helpful forum community. I have written a couple trip reports on here, an article, and I own the page for the Praying Monk.

Peakbagger is a great site for logging climbs. The peak database is huge and includes tons of peak lists, and you can add even more to the database. I use this site to log peaks, read and post trip reports, and to find peaks. If you have an account you can add a peak to the database, and it will show all of the other nearby peaks on a map. If I am traveling by somewhere, I will go into this page and look at what peaks are close to where I will be on a map. Since May 2012 you can also view nearby peaks on the page of a peak, without going to the “Add Peak to DB” page. The proximity search feature is also amazing.

Peakware is another site to take a look at. is a cool site with a lot of urban climbing routes and intercity stuff. Great forums as well.

Mountain Project is an awesome site to check out for rock climbing specific beta worldwide. Nice forums too.

CoHP is a cool site to get information and trip reports on County highpoints to bag, if that’s your bag… is a good way to save money on maps and guidebooks. It includes (mostly) hiking guidebooks and topo maps. You subscribe and then have access to tons of guides and maps for $50 per year.


Though a lot of books are available online at, there are some that are not. Those same books, the homemade and stapled crag guides, are usually so good that if it was online you should get it in print anyway. Most of the time people who publish those are locals and very familiar and passionate about that particular area, which results in a great guide. At least that’s what I find. There are also the guides that are just so good that they become coveted jewels (more on that in a minute)…Print copy>Online…Homemade>Mass produced. So now that we have things cleared up, here are some books that one must have. I have read all of these books so I can vouch for them.

Fifty State Summits:Guide with Maps to State Highpoints– a great book. Though Paul is dead (that’s the author, not a Beatles reference), Mr. Zumwalt published an awesome guidebook. A great homemade book, this book can save hours pouring over Summitpost and Peakbagger pages. It includes various and detailed routes to obtain state highpoints.

Europe’s High Points– The only guidebook to include all European country highpoints. This book can also save hours online…but after a couple incidents with cable cars, landmines, and border police in Serbia and Bulgaria last summer, it is best to double check a lot of this information. Or just send me a note.

Phoenix Rock II– A great guidebook by Greg Opland, this is the only book to document some metro Phoenix climbing areas. It has been out of print since 1996, so copies are hard to come by. I managed to find a used copy on for $8, but new copies can go for $130+ and most go for $40-50.

The Rock Jock’s Guide to Queen Creek Canyon Superior, Arizona-A great guide by Mary Karabin to Queen Creek Canyon. I have read much of this book in Phoenix Rock Gym, and it is ranked as one of the best guidebooks of all-time. Copies are expensive, $100+.

Squeezing the Lemmon II…More Juice Than Ever: A Rock Climber’s Guide to the Mount Lemmon Highway Tucson, Arizona– This is an excellent guide to the numerous crags on Mount Lemmon, and is also ranked as one of the best guidebooks ever written.

Castles in the Sand: A Climber’s Guide to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon- This is one of the only guides to Sedona and the Red Rock Country in Arizona. I just found this book in Feathered Friends in Seattle, but it is a pretty nice guide and well organized. A must for climbing on the super-sketch sandstone in Sedona.

Hiker’s and Climber’s Guide to the World’s Mountains and Volcanos– A great guide to look at interesting mountains across the world. The descriptions are very brief but it gives one an idea of the difficulty of the hundreds of mountains in this book. Some of the info is outdated–which the author admits to. The author is also very fast, so the times given in the book are faster than I can climb currently. A great book to have on the shelf, be sure to purchase the current edition.

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills– An excellent manual that includes instruction on almost everything in the realm of mountain climbing. This is a great book. Buy it, keep it, read it, make notes in it, etc…This is an excellent book that helps those of us (myself included), who read about climbing before ever attempting it. Be sure to buy the current edition of this one too.

Other Books

Guidebooks are great, but it is nice to read something other than a manual on occasion. Here are some of my favorite books that were fun to read and helpful for me to learn about climbing and new areas. I must confess that this list will turn out to be a list of every book I have ever read, when I finally remember all the titles, but I think that is because an activity like climbing makes one think about life in a new way and provokes an individual to produce some good writing. There is only one climbing book that I did not like (at all), and that was Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aron Ralston.

The Burgess Book of Lies, by Adrian and Alan Burgess- One of the funniest books I have ever read. From driving a Ford Transit from Sheffield to India, to climbing in some of the most interesting areas on Earth, this is a must read.

High Exposure, by David Breashears- When I first became seriously interested in the mountains this book was important to understand how a climber’s career develops. It was one of my biggest inspirations as a sixth grader sitting on the bus and made me look at hikes with my dad more as “training.”

Annapurna, by Maurice Herzog- This is a classic for very good reason, between incorrect maps, walking into Nepal from India and a historic ascent this book shows that the actual climb is only part of the adventure. It also makes one thankful for modern boots, sleeping bags and gloves.


I enjoy climbing movies when I get the chance to see them. Here are some of the ones I have seen and enjoyed.

Touching The Void– This is a classic based on Joe Simpson’s book describing his and Simon Yates’ FA of the West Face of Suila Grande in Peru. One of my favorite movies of all time, and it is on Netflix Instant as a bonus.

To The Limit (Am Limit)- This is a German movie about the Huber brothers’ attempt to beat the speed record on the Nose, and also follows them to Patagonia and their native Germany. It is also on Netflix Instant.

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