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Reviews > Books > General > MOUNTAINEERING The Freedom of the Hills > Owner Review by Marina Batzke

MOUNTAINEERING: The Freedom of the Hills
October 25, 2014


NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) hotmail (dot) com
AGE: 54
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in spring 2013. Since then, I have selectively purchased new, more lightweight gear, while I still carry some heavier gear from my car camping trips. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. I am a tent camper looking for ways to lighten my pack. My backpacking trips are currently weekend excursions in Southern California, USA. If my business travel allows me to get away, I try to backpack one or two weekends a month.


Publisher: The Mountaineers Books
Current Release: 8th edition published 2010 (with third printing 2012)
Manufacturer's Website:
ISBN: 978-1-59485-138-4 (paperback)
Also available as hardcover and e-book.
MSRP: US $29.95
Measured Weight: 2 lb 9.8 oz (1186 g)


In the spring of 2014, I took the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course (WTC), a classroom sessions and backpacking course that taught us how to be safe, prepared and comfortable in the backcountry. One part of our classroom assignment was reading the book MOUNTAINEERING: The Freedom of the Hills. Actually, for each of the ten classroom sessions, we were asked to read matching topic pages in the book for better preparation and a more thorough understanding.

MOUNTAINEERING was first published in 1960, written by a team of mountaineers. The latest edition was edited by Ronald C. Eng. This book is sometimes called "the bible of climbing" for mountaineers, and now that I have read large parts of it, I can agree.

In order to get a head start on the reading before the start of the WTC class, I borrowed what was available at my local library: the 5th edition (published 1992). Then on the first class evening, I got my 8th edition book and while reading the various topics, noticed quite a difference. There was not only the increase from 447 pages to 596 pages with a ton more helpful information, but also all the equipment improvements over the years, and the strong focus on lighter weight equipment.
A Valuable Read

MOUNTAINEERING consists of a preface and these parts:
1. Outdoor Fundamentals
2. Climbing Fundamentals
3. Rock Climbing
4. Snow, Ice and Alpine Climbing
5. Emergency Prevention and Response
6. The Mountain Environment
plus 4 appendices, a glossary and an index. The 6 parts are divided into 27 chapters.

MOUNTAINEERING covers many details that are very helpful to a relative backpacking newbie like I was at the beginning of 2014. The book details topics like physical and mental preparation, boots, clothing, the Ten Essentials, all supported by a sample equipment list. It describes shelter, bear country protection, all the way to snow camping, even how to build a snow cave. Navigation, compass use, Leave no Trace, basic safety, knots - all described in this book in text with supporting drawings.

MOUNTAINEERING also covers very helpful details for the experienced mountaineer that by far exceed my skill level or even my type of backcountry interest. Belay techniques, rappelling, alpine rock climbing, leading on rock, aid and big wall climbing, snow and glacier travel, crevasse rescue - it is all covered in this extensive book.

On the final pages leadership, first aid, mountain weather are explained.


Reading the related topics in MOUNTAINEERING: The Freedom of the Hills helped me better understand the Wilderness Travel Course classroom material, such as navigation with a compass. I appreciated the drawings that supported the text.

Now that the class is over, I like being able to pick up the book and read up on a topic that I want to refresh, like First Aid or snow travel.

I believe this book is a valuable read for a novice and an advanced mountaineer.


Marina Batzke

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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