Winter-spiration: Books To Inspire Winter Outdoor Adventures

Are you looking for some inspiration to embrace the cold and snow of winter? Of course, snowshoers usually have no trouble wanting to get outside and play in the snow. But what if there’s no snow on the ground? Or, it’s tough to walk out the door? Look no further than an outdoor adventure book to get you inspired for your next winter outing!

Over the last few years, I have been drawn to books with a lot of winter weather in common, and in their pages, I have found inspiration and motivation. I want to share a list of my favorites that you may want to pull some reads from for inspiration. You may even find these books to help you get out the door on some cold days or experience the moment from afar if you can’t get outside.

miniature woman on top of outdoor adventure books with spyglass

Your next book could take you on an adventure and provide some inspiration. Photo: Shutterstock/ Cristina Conti

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Polar/Arctic Exploration and Travel Books

Here are my favorites related to the polar exploration and travel genre. I’ve listed favorite picks with an *.

*Walking on Thin Ice: In Pursuit of the North Pole (1999) by David Hempleman-Adams

Hempleman teams up with Norwegian Rune Gjeldnes in this diary-like account of their attempt to reach the pole self-supported. The quirky relationship they develop is half the fun.

*Polar Dreams (1993) by Helen Thayer

An incredible woman’s solo trip to the magnetic North Pole, with the husky Charlie she was initially reluctant to take, but who saved her life.

*Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (1959) by Alfred Lansing

The classic tale of survival and leadership during the ill-fated Trans-Arctic Expedition. If you ever wondered why history remembers Ernest Shackleton so fondly, even though he never reached the South Pole, you will know after reading this.

The First Crossing of Greenland (2001) by Fridtjof Nansen

Nansen and crew were the first to embark on the crossing of Greenland from east to west, a daring and controversial quest. Read about their adventure and their use of both skis and snowshoes to complete the arduous journey.

Read More: The Use Of Snowshoes In The First Crossing of Greenland

The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party (2007) by Kelly Tyler-Lewis

After reading Endurance, fill in the rest of the story with the fascinating account of the rest of the expedition’s work setting up food caches from the opposite side of the continent.

Toughing it Out: The Adventures of a Polar Explorer and Mountaineer (1997) by David Hempleman-Adams

He’s done it all: seven summits, solo treks to the poles, sailed to the magnetic south pole.

Shadows on the Wasteland (1993) by Mike Stroud

Teaming up with Ranulph Fiennes to pull sleds across the Antarctic continent, Stroud tells about their unraveling under the tremendous stress of the journey.

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland (2001) by Gretel Ehrlich

Seven years of various travels in Greenland, telling exciting stories of adventure, the land, and the people.

Cold Oceans (1998) by Jon Turk

Turk chronicles his many adventures and hardships across ice and water and relives his emotional struggles that mirror his physical ones.

Polar Attack (1996) by Richard Weber and Mikhail Malakhow

The Canadian and Russian team up and become the first to travel from Canada to the North Pole and back, self-supported.

In the Ghost Country (2003) by Peter Hillary

Hillary (son of Sir Edmund) slogs to the South Pole and recounts tales of struggles in past expeditions, as well as the increasing strain of his current one.

Ice Fall in Norway (1972) by Ranulph Fiennes

Well known for his polar exploits, this is the story of Fiennes’ previous 1970 expedition to survey the Jostedals Glacier in Norway. His team used groundbreaking and risky techniques in their work, including parachuting onto the glacier.

True North (2005) by Bruce Henderson

This book is a thorough account of the race and rivalry between Americans Robert Peary and Dr. Frederick Cook to be the first to reach the North Pole in the early 1900s.

My Arctic Journal: A Year Among Ice-Fields and Eskimos (2002) by Josephine Peary

Early in his polar career, Robert Peary traveled with his wife on several expeditions. Thus, it is interesting to read Josephine’s account of a year in Northern Greenland.

Mountaineering/Climbing Outdoor Adventure Books

Here are my favorites related to mountaineering and climbing. I’ve listed favorite picks with an *.

*On the Ridge Between Life and Death (2005) by David Roberts

The haunting account of Roberts looking back to his teenage days when he started climbing in the 1960s. In the 60s, equipment was more fallible, and his daring was greater, including his many first ascents in Alaska. It’s a book that stays with you long after you finish.

Escape from Lucania: An Epic Story of Survival (2002) by David Roberts

Roberts recounts the daring ascent of Mt. Lucania in Alaska in 1937 by his mentor Bradford Washburn and Bob Bates.

Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow (2003) by Maria Coffey

Individuals affected by loved ones who risk their lives in the mountains contributed to this book of essays.

High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places (1999) by David Breashears

This book looks inside the life and thoughts of one of the world’s most famous climbers.

A Life On The Edge (1999) by Jim Whittaker

Immerse yourself in this memoir of a man with multiple outdoor accomplishments, including the first American to summit Mt. Everest.

Read More: Inspiring Good Read: A Life On The Edge

Touching the Void (1988) by Joe Simpson

The ‘can’t put it down’ mountaineering survival classic from Simpson’s early-career accident in Peru.

This Game of Ghosts (1993) by Joe Simpson

An older Simpson examines the motivation, appeal, and danger of climbing.

K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain (2009) by Ed Viesteurs and David Roberts

Viesteurs looks at the deadliest seasons of K2’s history and injects his philosophies and opinions on mountaineering and his career.

Transcendent Summits (2004) by Gerry Roach

Roach discusses his lifelong passion for climbing. He relays the importance of challenging ourselves to discover our purpose and who we are through his storytelling.

Read More: Review of Transcendent Summits by Gerry Roach

Regions of the Heart: The Triumph and Tragedy of Alison Hargreaves (2000) by David and Ed Douglas

Vilified by many because she was a mother who put her life at risk in the mountains, this book provides a more balanced account of the ambitions and achievements of Hargreaves.

Everest: Alone at the Summit (2000) by Stephen Venables

The Briton Venables joined three Americans in 1983 to take on a seemingly impossible new route up the Kangshung Face of Everest without the aid of bottled oxygen.

Higher than the Eagle Soars (2007) by Stephen Venables

More about Venables life and how he got into climbing. This book fills in more (and sometimes corrects) details about his Kangshung Face summit.

To the Summit (1997) by Margo Chisholm

This book recounts how a woman finds empowerment and saves her life through climbing. Very candid and inspiring.

Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest (2007) by Lincoln Hall

Hall barely escapes with his life after suffering from altitude sickness and staying out in the open at 8530m on his descent of Everest.

Touching My Father’s Soul (2001) by Jamling Tenzing Norgay

A look into the life of a Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay’s son, follows his famous father’s footsteps, literally, to the summit of Everest.

Breaking Trail (2005) by Arlene Blum

This book is about a pioneering woman in the world of climbing, and her fascinating life, combining academic success with adventure.

Into Thin Air (1997) by Jon Krakauer

This classic bestseller is about the 1996 Everest disaster that made Krakauer a household name.

Epic: Stories of Survival From the World’s Highest Peaks (1997) by Clint Willis

Read a collection of daring adventures, mainly in the mountains, and many taken as excerpts from other books.

Tomaz Humar (2008) by Bernadette McDonald

Slovenian alpinist Humar’s intriguing biography, as he tackled some of the world’s steepest and most dangerous faces.

Holding On (2006) by Jo Gambi

After her husband’s battle with cancer, a couple takes the ultimate outdoor adventure and tackles the world’s highest summits in the book.

Within Reach: My Everest Story (1998) by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin

A story of a teenage climber, aimed at inspiring younger readers, but enjoyable to anyone.

Northern or Wilderness Living Adventure Books

Here are my favorites related to living in the wilderness and being attuned to nature. I’ve listed favorite picks with an *.

*Diary of a Wilderness Dweller (2005) by Chris Czajkowski

After buying an extremely remote plot of land in the interior of British Columbia, Czajkowski sets to work felling trees and building a cabin, by herself, with not much more than a chainsaw and her ingenuity.

Call of the Wild: My Escape to Alaska (2007) by Guy Grieve

Grieve puts his life on hold for a year to live out his dream of building a cabin in Alaska.

On the Wild Edge: In Search of a Natural Life (2005) by David Peterson

Living a simple life with his wife in the Colorado Rockies for 25 years, Peterson shares tales and wisdom.

An Arctic Man (1979) by Ernie Lyall

Lyall wrote this book about his life in Northern Canada because, as he says, “I finally got fed up with all the baloney in so many books written about the north.”

Coming into the Country (1976) by John McPhee

McPhee chronicles many aspects of life in Alaska, from urban to wilderness.

Wild Moments (2010) by Ted Williams

Fall in love with the natural world during all seasons (including winter). This compilation of nature essays focuses on the world’s creatures and is perfect for those looking to read a few pages to feel inspired.

Read More: Review of Wild Moments by Ted Williams

Into the Wild (1996) by Jon Krakauer

Another classic by Krakauer, this one is about the life of Chris McCandless, who set off to live a self-sustained life in Alaska in 1992 and met with tragedy.

The North Runner (1979) by R. D. Lawrence

Living in the wilderness of British Columbia, Lawrence befriends a wolf/dog hybrid he calls Yukon.

Going Inside: A Couple’s Journey of Renewal into the North (1995) by Alan S. Kesselheim

A couple takes a year-long canoeing expedition through northern Canada to renew their interest in their lives and each other.

Journey through Labrador (1995) by Bernie Howgate

A quirky retelling of a challenging but satisfying 2,500km journey by snowshoe and kayak through the remote country and the people he meets along the way.

A Country Year: Living the Questions (1999) by Sue Hubbell

Recounting a year in life in the rural Ozark Mountains, this book is divided by season. It is a quiet and charming observation of natural life.

Canoe Country and Snowshoe Country (1938, 1944) by Florence Page Jaques

From New York City, Jaques and her husband live for extended periods in the wilderness of Minnesota. These two irresistible books are diaries of their experiences there. An updated published both books together as well.

Read More: Review of Snowshoe Country by Florence Page Jaques

Ordinary Wolves (2005) by Seth Kantner

This novel is about a boy growing up in Alaska and trying to reconcile traditional ways with modern society.

Dog Sledding Adventure Books

Here are my favorites related to dog sledding. I’ve listed favorite picks with an *.

*Tracks Across Alaska (1990) by Alastair Scott

The author travels by dogsled from Manley Hot Springs to Nome, transforming from rookie to expert musher through total immersion on the trail. It is interspersed with fascinating Alaskan history.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod (2001) by Gary Paulsen

As a rookie training for the Iditarod, Paulsen recounts in hilarious detail the mistakes he made and the poignant moments equally well.

Dogsong (1997) by Gary Paulsen

After being given a sled and five dogs, a young Inuit boy finds himself taking a journey into the old way of life.

My Lead Dog Was A Lesbian (1996) by Brian Patrick O’Donoghue

A novice musher who entered the 1991 Iditarod and lived to tell the tale.

Racing the White Silence: On the Trail of the Yukon Quest (2002) by Adam Killick

An account of the 2001 Yukon Quest dogsled race, highlighting the essential cultural aspects of sled dog travel in the north.

No End in Sight (2005) by Rachel Scdoris and Rick Steber

Scdoris, who is visually impaired, has fought hard to do what she loves – dog sledding – with much of that challenge convincing others what she can do.

Yukon Alone: The World’s Toughest Adventure Race (1999) by John Balzar

Balzar is a reporter covering the Yukon Quest dogsled race, providing an up-close look at the personalities and dogs that make up the race.

Running North: A Yukon Adventure (1998) by Ann Mariah Cook

Cook and her family move from New Hampshire to Alaska to prepare to run the Yukon Quest with their team of Siberian Huskies.

Arctic Adventures (1997) by Ian and Sally Wilson

This feature documents a year in the life of a couple who travel across Northern Canada by canoe and dogsled. They share their crash courses of learning experiences along the way.

books on a shelf

What’s on your winter book list? Photo: Sara Montgomery

I’d love to hear from you as well, with any books you’d like to add to the list. Please share your recommendations for winter and outdoor adventure books that inspire you in the comments below!

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Susan Wowk most recently updated this article on September 28, 2021. 

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Sara Montgomery

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