If you plan to climb outdoors, whether it’s trad routes or sport bolted routes, the humble climbing book is an essential piece of equipment you should never go climbing without.
Rock climbers have been using route guides since the 1900s. In the early days of rock climbing, routes were recorded with sketches and hand written notes which would be meticulously copied by hand. Very few people had access to these guides, making it extremely difficult for beginners to get started. Nowadays we are spoiled with easy access to climbing books which comprehensively cover most of the climbed rock faces throughout the world.
Unless you are in the business of setting new routes, a rock climbing book is the best way to ensure you don’t stray off route. Staying on your chosen climbing route is vital for staying safe. For example, you might start a Vdiff route and accidentally stray onto an E1. That’s fine if you’re an E1 leader, but if you’re not you’re in trouble!
Most modern climbing books are superb and feature a wealth of useful information, including:
Photographs featuring the routes
Detailed step by step descriptions of the routes
Maps showing you how to find the crags
Detailed descriptions of the crags including aspect, altitude and the type of rock
Information on the characteristics of the routes (like whether they are well or poorly protected)
There are some brilliant publishers creating top quality climbing guide books, my favourite include: Ground Up, ROCKFAX and Vertebrate Publishing. I use their guide books extensively and have found them to be incredibly useful on my climbing expeditions.