Remember Steve Martin in The Jerk? "The new phone books are here!" He was excited, but he's got nothing on mountaineers everywhere who are rejoicing at the 50th anniversary 8th Edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. It's at least 3.7 percent better, 596 pages for the 8th Edition versus a mere 575 pages for the 7th Edition from waaaay back in 2003. That's pre-Facebook for you punks who won't get off my lawn.
FOTH has sold over 600,000 copies since the first edition in 1960, and it is without question the bible for those who would rather be in the mountains thinking about God than in church thinking about the mountains. Over thirty experts worked for Seattle based nonprofit publisher Mountaineers Books to update all 27 chapters, including completely redoing the conditioning chapter and producing major updates to rescue and first response, aid climbing, and waterfall and ice climbing. One example of the updates is a treatment of equalettes in the anchors section of the fundamentals chapter.
FOTH is a solid grounding in the basic rules of mountaineering, with only the occasional omission, e.g. clipping through on a running belay. FOTH recommends the middle climber unclip from the rope in front and then clip in the rope behind, but this is less safe than grabbing both strands of the rope, on either side of the middle climber's harness tie-in, and clipping them simultaneously into the anchor carabiner. Likewise sport climbing is given short shrift, with a few paragraphs detailing the dangers of not tying in the belayer but no mention given to the advantages of a dynamic belay, e.g. a softer catch.
But these are minor quibbles with the master text, and Mountaineers Books provides many complementary volumes of advanced learning in the mountain arts through its Outdoor Expert series. OK, so here's what you do: click on the link below to go to Amazon. Add FOTH to your cart. Then add The Mountaineering Handbook by Craig Connally to your cart. Connally's book is the edgy, fast and light version of FOTH, so for about 33 bucks you get free shipping and two books that complement each other very well. The truly discerning climber will add Glacier Mountaineering by Andy Tyson, with its excellent illustrations by Mike Clelland, for a mere 12 bucks. That's a Ph.D. in getting high for under a Ulysses.