Mountaineering is half sport / half exploration. Polar exploration is a related field that has generated numerous books.
For many years I liked nothing better than to lie down – preferably in low-lying country such as East Anglia – and lose myself in the halting, pained progress of mountain climbers being winched ever-upwards by their own deranged romanticism.
The most celebrated mountaineering figure before WWII was George Mallory, last sighted within 1,000 feet of the summit of Mt. Everest. (His frozen body was found in 1999.)
In October 1905, Mallory entered Magdalene College, Cambridge to study history. There, he became good friends with members of the Bloomsbury Group including James Strachey, Lytton Strachey, Rupert Brooke, John Maynard Keynes, and Duncan Grant, who painted several portraits of Mallory. Mallory was a keen oarsman and rowed in the college eight for his three years at Cambridge.
In case you were wondering (and, yes, you should), Mallory left a widow and three small children.