10 of the best books about mountains – for a virtual climb

From Cornwall to north Wales, Langdale to Skye, these pages circle through landscapes that will be lovingly familiar to outdoors enthusiasts across the UK. Moffatpadsbarefoot up steep rock faces, teeters along icy edges, sleeps on frozen hay and picks watercress from clifftops. With the tenacity of a true mountaineer, Murray refused to be deterred: he rewrote the entire book; later stating that the Gestapo had done him afavour by forcing him to produce a much-improved second draft. Winter sunrise, moonlit nights and endless midsummer days … Murray captures the startling movements of light and weather inthemountains of Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Skye. Struggling through snow and ice, delighting in the technical interest of rock climbs and looking out to dazzling views across land, seaandhills,Murray’s book will appeal to anyone who loves the Highlands. While many experimented with hallucinogenics, Jung and eastern philosophy, Matthiessen travelled to the Crystal mountain in the remote Dolpo region of the Nepalese Himalayas.Gentle, reflective journal entries recount his path towards enlightenment. Sights, sounds, people and nature are observed with a gentle curiosity; hopes and frustrations unfold alongside hisdesireto experience “the infinite in every moment”. The route from sacred to awesome challenge isrelated through a colourful cast of mountaineers who have pushed into extreme terrain over the past few centuries. While the scientists, explorers, poets and climbers may set out withdifferentgoals, their mindset is broadly similar: from Coleridge to Mallory, each character is driven by a blend of curiosity, compulsion and the ability to tolerate extreme suffering. Frantically preparing the 1956 Spring Collection, Newby is struggling with an obstinate dress when he decides enough is enough and sends a fateful telegram to his friend, Hugh Carless. Sweating their way up steep roads and desolate gorges, past thundering torrents and mulberry trees, their story is narrated witha humourand modesty that will make you laugh aloud. From 1935-1958, personal ambitions and national rivalries funnelled climbers from across Europe to take up ropes, crampons and ice axes in pursuit of aglorious new conquest: the first ascent of the North Face. Frank Fraser Darling’s study transports you to the Scottish Highlands where, for two years, he followed a herd of red deer (in the remote north-west), observing how they live, eat, mate, socialise, raise young and respond to the environment. Darling is no detached observer: he seeks to build an intimacy with the deer and their habitat, spending hours in silence, emptying hismind and walking barefoot to raise the threshold of his awareness. When Shu Wen’s husband disappeared in Tibet, the young Chinese doctor set out on an epic journey into wild, unknown lands to find him. Finally, Wen travels to the holy mountains, where she finds beautiful anddevastatinganswers.War, peace, love, loss and reconciliation: this is a haunting book of immense power.