Having selected the country you plan to visit, the next requirement is for some research. Multiple resources are available to help with this. This page provides some useful links, but Alpine Club members are also a ready source of expedition advice and information.
Searching the premiere journals - the American Alpine Journal, the Himalayan Journal and the Japanese Alpine News - for the region of interest is a good place to start. The first two of these are available online from their respective clubs: the American Alpine Club; and the Himalayan Club; and both are readily searchable.
The Alpine Club also provides a number of resources that will be useful for those planning or researching expeditions.
Alpine Club Expeditions
The Alpine Club organises annual expeditions, which are often to remote and little-known mountain areas. These expeditions are open to all members, subject to qualifying criteria and numbers. They can be subsidised by the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund. This fund also supports expeditions privately organised by club members. .
Read more about Expedition Reports
Many expeditions will have been awarded Mount Everest Foundation grants and provided reports. There are some details on the MEF website but the MEF does not hold actual copies. These are distributed to the AC and the organisations listed below (excepting the Kew archives) and can be accessed as detailed below.
The RGS holds copies of all MEF reports as well as many others. Searching is very straightforward and summaries are provided. Reports cover the period 1965 onwards and are very comprehensive. They can be consulted by visiting the RGS library, or copies can be e-mailed.
Not the easiest source of information. The National Archives hold many older documents deposited there from multiple sources.
This is still in beta form but has some impressive features. It is easy to search although not comprehensive. It includes summaries, and you can download many complete reports as PDFs. The BMC is currently the only readily available source of this information. The AC is working towards publishng a comprehenve expeditions database which will be be available online in due course.
Sheffield library holds a comprehensive archive of mountaineering material, including copies of MEF and other expedition reports. There is a PDF catalogue which can be searched; one of the best ways of quickly identifying peaks and leaders. At present it is up to date only to 2010.
In order to search for specific mountains, the Himalayan Index, which is maintained by the Alpine Club, is another important resource. If you are lucky the Alpine Club photo library may even have a picture of your intended objective and it is always worth contacting them to check.
For more popular areas, such as the Andes, excellent guide books are available that provide not only route descriptions, but also useful local information. The Andes – a Guide for Climbers, by John Biggar, 1999, ISBN 1-871890-38-1 and Classic Climbs of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, by Brad Johnson, 2003, ISBN 1-890437-90-5 are particularly recommended. Similarly, Friedrich Bender has published Classic Climbs in the Caucasus, 1992, ISBN 0-906371-59-7 which provides detailed route descriptions for selected mountains in the Caucasus range. With respect to the Indian Himalaya, Harish Kapadia, a recognised authority, has published a large number of books that provide invaluable information on the many areas that he has visited. For China and Tibet Tom Nakamura has produced a variety of articles and publications detailing unclimbed mountains in the Nyainquentanglha range and Sechuan. See also Östlich des Himalaya – Die Alpen Tibets, Tamotsu Nakamura, 2008, ISBN 978-3-937597-25-6, in German but an English version is expected.
Once you've made full use of all of these resources, making contact with the leaders of past expeditions to the area that you have selected is the next step in choosing objectives appropriate to your requirements.