Top of the World Books

Rare Mountaineering & Polar Books from Greg Glade’s Top of the World Books

There’s something about the mountains that just lures you in. They are not pretentious or judgmental, they don’t care who was in front of who at Starbucks—they are a safe place of natural beauty and, for the right crowd, serious adventure.

It’s that adventurous crowd of climbers and mountaineers alike that collect relics of certain journeys, prized gear that saved their life once upon a time, even a splurge on an ice axe signed by THE Kurt Diemberger. That’s where the love of rare books tends to meet the love of the mountains—whichever passion you discovered first is irrelevant. They go hand in hand and are perfect for your next collecting obsession.

Rare Mountaineering Books
A rare signed copy of Karakoram: The Ascent of Gasherbrum IV

From that obsession a very valuable bookshelf starts to form. A bookshelf can tell you so much about a person. A quick appraisal can give amazing insight into the soul; from the well weathered double volume binding of The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-1913 to a signed copy of Among The Alps with Bradford…it’s an intimate way to get to know someone.

The most important thing to remember in the rare book world, just as in rock climbing, is how important finding the right guide is. When you find the right book seller for you, you just know. It’s a relationship to build on for years to come, so you want to make sure to choose wisely.

Rare Mountaineering Books
A 1923 double volume of The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-1913 retails for about $2,750 in the mountaineering literature world

Greg Glade at Top of the World Books has been specializing in Mountain and Polar Literature since 1989 and has over 2400 new, rare, and used items in his inventory. He’s based out of Vermont but ships worldwide, so no need to trek up to New England.

Top of the World Books was established as an outgrowth of Greg’s personal interest in mountaineering and polar exploration literature. Whether you are an active outdoors person or an armchair adventurer, he’s got you covered. We did have a chance to sit down and have coffee with Greg, look at some incredible items from his collection and see how he’s able to own this niche category. Greg really vets out every product he sells—everything is very transparent, no surprises when you get order something. Being an adventurer and wanderer himself he just gets it. That’s an important part of finding the right guy to source your expensive mementos.

Rare Mountaineering Books
An ice axe signed by THE Kurt Diemberger. Find it at Top of the World Books!

Many of Greg’s customers are retired mountaineers or climbers who aren’t able to get on the mountain and are finally not spending every last dime on gear (or beer). Other than that, it’s people who are just fascinated by places like Mt. Everest and the grand adventure of it all. Greg has also met some of the greatest in the mountain community and worked with Brad Washburn to publish one of his last books, Mount McKinley’s West Buttress: The First Ascent – Brad Washburn’s Logbook 1951.

Top of the World has books in over a dozen different languages and whether you’re into the 8000-meter peaks of the Himalaya and Karakorum, the Seven Summits, the Alaska Range, Alps, Andes, Caucasus, Rockies, or the Polar Regions….they have something for you, trust me. Drooling yet? Even if Greg doesn’t have something specific you’re after in stock, Top of the World Books is definitely the place to find it for you.

Rare Mountaineering Books
A rare signed copy of Among the Alps with Bradford

We also had a chance to ask Greg about where to start when you dive into rare book collecting, specifically in the mountaineering literature world.

He told us, “The world of mountaineering related literature is indeed vast and can be a lifelong, enjoyable pursuit. It is important, however, to collect books that are of interest to you, that you will read and enjoy. There is no one list of ‘the best books’, as everyone has different interests, although there certainly are classics in the field. One may wish to focus on a particular geographic area, or first ascents, or the 8000-meter peaks, or a particular time period, whatever appeals to you. There are literally thousands of books out there! Find what you like and have fun.”

You can check out Top of the World Books for yourself here: