Mountaineers Books: Support the Stories that Move You

Mountaineers Books is a mission-focused nonprofit publisher that champions outdoor literature, creates advocates for our natural world, and helps people find their way outdoors. A year-end donation will allow us to create quality books that educate, inform, and inspire.
Tom Helleberg Tom Helleberg
Publisher, Mountaineers Books
December 16, 2022
Mountaineers Books: Support the Stories that Move You
Photo by Tami Asars, from Fall Color Hikes Washington.

As I sit down to write a year-end letter to the readers of Mountaineers Books, I’m trying to envision who exactly I am writing to, who is reading this? Are you a climber, a sea kayaker, a mountain biker? Are you a lover of mountaineering literature or do you collect books of nature photography?

Our list is so broad, the answer could be any of these things. You may be a ski instructor, a wilderness first responder, or an armchair adventurer. You may have ordered a book about hikes to take with your kids or perhaps one about how to raise goats in the city.

It is a question with no answer, for there is no singular Mountaineers Books reader. You are a diverse group with far-ranging interests. And, just like you, Mountaineers Books is many things.

We are a path to discovering the outdoors. Mountaineers Books began with the publication of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, a single book that laid the foundation for a catalog of guides, giving readers and recreationists of the Northwest the knowledge and tools they need to find their own way outside. Sixty-one years later, our commitment to local expert knowledge is the same as it ever was, and our guides seek to meet readers wherever they are, across a broad range of activities, skill levels, and geographies. Recent books like the Urban Trails series feature close-in and transit-accessible front country hikes, while titles like the Mountaineers Outdoor Expert series and the newly-revised Avalanche Handbook provide more technical guidance for advanced adventurers. Such guides spark a love of place among our readers, one rooted in direct experience of the natural world and inspiring conservation and good stewardship.

We are a champion of outdoor literature. A few of our readers are extreme athletes, pushing the limits of human achievement in the most remote and rugged landscapes. But there are many more who seek that same sense of adventure by the fireside. To call out a few titles that bring the outdoors home: Karakoram gives a detailed picture of expeditions in and the people and culture of the region through the eyes of renowned alpinist Steve Swenson; Turn Around Time by David Guterson is a meditation on the outdoors as a metaphor for our journeys through life as well as a tribute by an award-winning author to his home territory; and the twenty-nine titles of our Legends and Lore series provide accounts of expeditions from authors including Jim Whittaker, Tom Hornbein, Rick Ridgeway, and David Roberts.

There are many ways to engage with the outdoors, from a bird walk in a city park to posting the fastest known time on a long trail. Our books expand that engagement, giving our readers access to places they may never visit in person.

We are a voice for the Pacific Northwest. As a UNESCO City of Literature, Seattle is home to authors, readers, scholars, and a great abundance of booksellers. New and used, independents and chains, there is a perfect local bookstore to suit any taste. And yet, in spite of this regional love of letters, there are few publishers in the Northwest. And even fewer independent publishers.

What we do is important. Where we do it is perhaps more important.

Regional publishers like Mountaineers Books are essential in identifying and amplifying emerging writers and preserving the genuine voices and boots-on-the-ground expertise of authors who, like us, are steeped in our shared geography.

We are a force for conservation. Beyond the core list of guidebooks, narratives, and regional and natural history, our Skipstone and Braided River imprints create engagement on conservation issues big and small, from your local P-Patch to the Gates of the Arctic. Our Skipstone books provide hands-on guidance for “backyard activism” and cover topics from beekeeping to food waste reduction. On a much larger scale, our Braided River titles tackle issues of national and global importance, such as Orca (in partnership with the Seattle Times) and The Big Thaw (in partnership with the Woods Hole Research Center). Braided River books have won Washington State Book Awards in two of the past three years and serve as the cornerstones of ongoing impact and advocacy work.

While our guidebooks inspire a love of place, our conservation titles go a step further and empower readers to advocate and take direct action to protect those places.

Above all else, we are a mission-focused nonprofit publisher. Every page we print serves the core goals of The Mountaineers: we seek to lead the way with best practices in safe recreation that minimize impacts on public lands. We seek to engage with a broad and diverse readership and to foster a vision of an outdoors that is open and inviting to all. We seek to advocate for natural places and to create transformative experiences that turn readers into good stewards, invested in protecting those places for future generations.

Sales alone are not sufficient to support this mission-driven work. We choose our authors and our titles based on our values. This is increasingly rare in a world driven by website algorithms or numbers of social media followers. We compensate our creators — authors, illustrators, photographers, cartographers, and everyone else involved in transforming an idea into a book in hand. Our processes are human. We seek quality over quantity. We seek authenticity over automation.

We publish in this way because we believe these details matter.

As a Mountaineers Books reader, I expect they matter to you as well.

If our mission and our publications speak to you, please consider a direct contribution to Mountaineers Books. Your support will make an immediate impact on our organization, and allow us to continue to create quality books that educate, inform, and inspire.

  • World-class expert guidebooks to help people safely and responsibly enjoy the outdoors 
  • A platform for diverse and emerging authors, adventurers, and artists 
  • Public engagement around conservation and advocacy on behalf of our natural world 
  • Planet-friendly, mission-driven independent publishing


Mountaineers Books is part of The Mountaineers® 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 27-3009280.

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