Explored and Illustrated with Pen and Camera Selected titles from the Mazama Library’s Rare Book Collection

“Mountains have always had the power to stir emotions and inspire expression, and over the years mountaineering writers have produced some truly memorable and powerful works. Thus, nonfiction of high literary and poetic quality is unusually prevalent in the literature of mountaineering. The subjects of geography, history, exploration and travel, science, photography, biography, and sport are covered in depth in the field of mountaineering literature, adding to the breadth of its appeal.”

from Classics in the Literature of Mountaineering and Mountain Travel

Over one hundred years ago, the Mazama Library began acquiring rare and hard to find books on mountaineering. That initial effort has grown into one of the preeminent collections of mountaineering books in the nation. The Mazamas is proud to have a library collection that showcases the efforts of climbers around the world and across time.

Across East African Glaciers

by Hans Meyer, 1891

Considered by many the most important book on mountaineering in Africa. The book documents the first undisputed ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro's highest point, Kibo. Doctor Meyer, a geologist and experienced climber, made three attempts on the peak between 1887 and 1889. He successfully reached the summit on October 6, 1889. Meyer realized the greatest obstacle to reaching the summit was the lack of food at higher elevations. On his final attempt, he established several camps on the mountain and was able to make several attempts on the summit without descending. Meyer's book is a lively and easily readable account of his adventure.

Mazama Library Special Collection 916.7.M61

Voyages dans les Alps: precedes d'un essai l'historie naturelle des envions de Geneve

(Travels in the Alps: preceded by an essay on the natural history of the surroundings of Geneva)

by Horace Benedict de Saussere, 1788.

This set of four volumes, the oldest books in the Mazama Library's Special Collection, details Saussere’s travels, climbs, and scientific studies of the Swiss Alps. He saw the Alps as the grand key to the true theory of the earth, and they gave him the opportunity to study geology in a manner never previously attempted. Saussure had a thorough knowledge of the chemistry of the day and applied it to the study of minerals, water and air. His geological observations made him a firm believer in the Neptunian theory: He regarded all rocks and minerals as deposited from aqueous solution or suspension, and attached much importance to the study of meteorological conditions. His work with rocks, erosion, and fossils also led him to believe that the earth was much older than generally thought and formed part of the basis of Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

Mazama Library Special Collection # 949.4.Sa8, Vol 1-4.

An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul; being, The Substance of Observations made during a Mission to that Country in the Year 1793.

William Kirkpatrick, London, 1811.

William Kirkpatrick (1754-1812) joined the Bengal Infantry in 1773. He was Lord Cornwallis' interpreter during the Mysore War, 1791– 1792. Following the end of a diplomatic mission to mediate a military dispute between Nepal and China, Kirkpatrick spent seven weeks in Nepal. At the time, "No Englishman had hitherto passed beyond the range of lofty mountains which separates the secluded valley of Nepaul [sic.] from the north-eastern parts of Bengal." In this work, Kirkpatrick outlines his route to Katmandu, provides a historical sketch of the country, and details the boundary and divisions of Nepal. The appendices contain official papers and letters relating to his mission and the origin of the war between Nepal and Tibet.

Call of the Snowy Hispar

A Narrative of exploration and mountaineering on the northern frontier of India

by Fanny Workman, 1911.

Fanny Workman and her brother William led five expeditions to the Karakoram Himalaya after the turn of the twentieth century. She was among the first female explorers in Asia. This is the story of their fourth expedition. In 1908, the Workmans explored the 38-mile-long Hispar Glacier in the Hunza Nagar region. They traveled over the Hispar pass and onto the 37-mile-long Biafo Glacier. At the time they set a record for glacier traverses. Fanny became the first woman to travel across any Himalayan glacier of this size. They were the first to explore its many side glaciers and the maps created by their Italian porters helped map the region for the first time. The book chronicles their travels, scientific, and meteorological research.

Mazama Library Special Collection 915.42.W92c.

In Darkest Africa

The quest, rescue, and retreat of Emin, Governor of Equatoria

by Sir Henry M. Stanley, 1890.

Stanley’s own account of his last adventure on the African continent. At the turn of that century, the interior of the African continent was largely unknown to the American and European public. With the accounts of great explorers like Stanley, readers became thrilled by stories African expeditions and longed to follow in the footsteps of these explorers. In 1888, Stanley led an expedition to come to the aid of Mehmed Emin Pasha.

Mazama Library Special Collection, 916.7.S78

History of the Oregon Country, Vol 1-6

by Harvey W. Scott, 1924.

A history of Oregon drawn from articles, editorials, and public address given and written by Harvey Scott. His son, Leslie M Scott acted as editor on the set and published it after Harvey’s death. Harvey Scott was an American pioneer, newspaper editor, and historian. Scott is best remembered as the long-time editorialist of The Oregonian newspaper and was regarded by his contemporaries as instrumental in bringing the state of Oregon firmly into the political camp of the Republican Party. Mount Scott, the extinct volcano in Happy Valley, is named after him and a statue of him stands atop Mount Tabor.

Mazama Library Special Collection, 917.95.S42 v.1-6

Blank on the Map

by Eric Shipton, 1938.

The story of his small expedition into the unexplored areas of the northern Karakoram – the Shaksgam area. The copy contains a rare signature by Shipton.

Title page with Shipton's signature

The Yosemite

by John Muir, 1912.

Muir was an outspoken advocate for wilderness preservation and the protection of his sacred valley – Yosemite. This book is a compendium of his writings on the valley. He went toe to toe with Gifford Pinchot in an effort to preserve the Hetch Hetchy valley adjacent to Yosemite, eventually losing the effort but setting the stage for many environmental victories to come in the next 100 years.

Climber’s Guide to the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington

by Fred Beckey, 1949

First edition. The book that started it all. Beckey and his brother Helmey made extensive first ascents throughout the Washington mountains during the 1940s, and this little guidebook was the first description of these peaks and their routes. Many editions and revisions followed.

Mazama Library Special collection 917.97 B38

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Created By
Mathew Brock


Mathew Brock