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Anyone have any vintage outdoor books you're willing to share (virtually)?

Admittedly, I'm a pretty voracious reader. So before I even set foot on Mount Rainier I read as much as I possibly could about mountaineering and climbing. That, inevitably, led to many interesting outdoor adventures and instruction books. For the last 20 years I have been in search of a first edition of "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills" to add to my collection. Last week I was able to finally secure a copy and I could not be more excited! 

@hikermor  @Philreedshikes  @Dmitry  @OldGuyot  @bryndsharp @Dad_Aint_Hip @Rob6  @tadoerner @TomIrvine @johnt I thought you'd all find this pretty interesting!


Anyone else have an outdoor book collection they are willing to share with the community?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
37 Replies


Ha! Most of us that predate the ‘inter-webs’, who grew up (age wise anyway) in the age of REI and hikermore, I mean Campmore catalogs, only had ‘trial-by-fire’ or books, to reference and hopefully learn from.

But it’s getting late on the Right coast , and I’m old and working on an adult beverage, but rest assured, I will respond to this great post!

REI Member Since 1979

@Philreedshikes  I've got a first edition of MFOTH on my shelf, right next to the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th.  It is interesting to compare comparable section of the various editions.  Rappelling, for example, expanded enormously over the years (and rightly so).

Do you have Handbook of American Mountaineering, 1942, by Kenneth Henderson?  That was recommended to me back in 1957 when I became interested in technical climbing and mountaineering.  Discharged from the army in 1961, i got my grubby mitts of MFOTH, thank heaven, and that was my bible in my early days in the NPS.  Fabulous work!

I've got lots of old stuff handing around...What else do you need??

@hikermor @Philreedshikes 

Here's my 'stack' of 'Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills'. I am only missing the fifth edition. I have two copies of the second edition because the first time I thought I was buying a first edition it was actually the second edition (they used a stock image of the first edition for the photo!). It appears we are now on the Ninth Edition so I'll have to pick that one up as well to keep my collection current.

If you happen to come across a copy of the fifth edition I'll trade you a second edition for it!



At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I hae a 5th.  Let's talk

Another classic is Colin Walker's The Complete Walker. [The link is to Amazon if anyone wants to buy a copy.] I still have a copy of the second edition, The New Complete Walker. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands (millions?) got their start in hiking and backpacking with the advice from this book.






This is great, thanks! I wonder if that cover photo is one of the first times that style of laying all your gear out for an 'aerial photo' happened? That's a super popular thing to do on Instagram these days! Now I have another book to keep an eye out for!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Don't know about the first "aerial photo."

I enjoy rereading these books from time to time. Some aspects remain eternal, like the authors' love of the outdoors. Others hark back to a different time, like when external frame packs were the standard. And others need adjustment for inflation, like the prices we paid for gear. The numbers may look like exceptionally cheap bargains. But when you run them through an inflation calculator you realize how expensive some of that stuff was in today's dollars.

Thanks for the reminder to revisit some of the favorites in my [small] library.


Two books that got me started hiking in the Alps were: Foot-Loose in the Swiss Alps and Hut Hopping in the Austrian Alps by William Reifsnyder. He wrote several other classics including a book on hut to hut hiking in the White Mountains.





How about "Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" by Steve Roper, 1976 edition.  I checked the entry for Mt. Whitney and there is no mention of a quota or permit system....

Here is one of my favorites - The Adventure Climbs of Herb and Jan Conn - 2008.  I have two intersections with the Conns.  The first was on my first exposure to roped climbing - watching an early ascent of Finger Rock in the Santa Catalina Mts, AZ.  The leader reached the summit, finding that this was not a first ascent.  There was a note left by Herb and Jan.

Secondly was a series of appearances by the Conns at evening programs for volunteer diggers at The Mammoth Site, South Dakota, where they recounted their exploration of Jewel Cave, upping the length from about two miles to more than 50.  Jan concluded with a demonstration of underwater yodelling....A great time was had by all.

The Conns were explorers s much as climbers, searching out new areas and working in first ascents in what are now destination areas festooned with sport climbers (Needles of South Dakota).

Just checked the Jewel Cave website.  It has a surveyed length of 208 miles and still going.  I'll bet it will eventually link with Wind Cave....