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In mountaineering, a first ascent (abbreviated to FA in guidebooks) is the first successful, documented attainment of the top of a mountain or the first to follow a particular climbing route. First mountain ascents are notable because they entail genuine exploration, with greater risks, challenges and recognition than climbing a route pioneered by others. The person who performs the first ascent is called the first ascensionist.
In free climbing, a first ascent (or first free ascent, abbreviated FFA) of a climbing route is the first successful, documented climb of a route without using equipment such as anchors or ropes for aiding progression or resting.
The details of the first ascents of even many prominent mountains are scanty or unknown; sometimes the only evidence of prior summiting is a cairn, artifacts, or inscriptions at the top. Today, first ascents are generally carefully recorded and usually mentioned in guidebooks.
The term is also used when referring to ascents made using a specific technique or taking a specific route, such as via the North Face, without ropes or without oxygen.
In rock climbing, some of the earlier first ascents, particularly for difficult routes, involved a mix of free and aid climbing. As a result, purist free climbers have developed the designation first free ascent (FFA) to acknowledge ascents intentionally made more challenging by using equipment for protection only.
Second ascents are also noteworthy in climbing circles, frequently involving improving on a pioneering route through lessons learned from it, experience which may span from technical improvements to having a better understanding of how much gear and provisions to take.
Some other "first ascents" could be recorded for particular mountains or routes. One is the First Winter Ascent, which is, as the name easily suggests, the first ascent made during winter season. This is most important where the climate of winter is a factor in increasing the difficulty grade of the route (higher elevation, polar latitudes). In the Northern Hemisphere conventional winter ascents are made between December 21 and March 21 and are not related to the conditions.Also in the Himalayan area, although Nepal and China's winter season permits start on December 1, the conventional winter ascents begin on December 21.
Another is the First Solo Ascent, which is the first ascent made by a single climber. This is most important on high-level rock climbing, when the climber has to provide his own security (self-belaying) or even when climbing without any protection at all (often recorded as First Free Solo Ascent). Another type of ascent, also known as FFA (not to be confused with First Free Ascent as listed above) is the first female ascent. While not generally considered as important, this designation remains significant on some difficult, limit-pushing climbs, where the first female ascent may not happen until well after the FA, due to possible difficulties encountered by female physicality.
The term last ascent has been used to refer to an ascent of a mountain or face that has subsequently changed to such an extent – often because of rockfall – that the route no longer exists (e.g., the south-west face of the Aiguille du Dru in the Alps). It can also be used facetiously to refer to a climb that is so unpleasant or unaesthetic (due to loose rock, excessive brush, poor route selection, etc.) that no one would ever willingly repeat the first ascent party's ordeal.
Reinhold Andreas Messner is an Italian mountaineer, explorer, and author. He made the first solo ascent of Mount Everest and, along with Peter Habeler, the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen. He was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level. Messner was the first to cross Antarctica and Greenland with neither snowmobiles nor dog sleds. He also crossed the Gobi Desert alone. Messner has published more than 80 books about his experiences as a climber and explorer. In 2018, he received jointly with Krzysztof Wielicki the Princess of Asturias Award in the category of Sports.
The Eiger is a 3,967-metre (13,015 ft) mountain of the Bernese Alps, overlooking Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, just north of the main watershed and border with Valais. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends across the Mönch to the Jungfrau at 4,158 m (13,642 ft), constituting one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps. While the northern side of the mountain rises more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the two valleys of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, the southern side faces the large glaciers of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, the most glaciated region in the Alps. The most notable feature of the Eiger is its nearly 1,800-metre-high (5,900 ft) north face of rock and ice, named Eiger-Nordwand, Eigerwand or just Nordwand, which is the biggest north face in the Alps. This huge face towers over the resort of Kleine Scheidegg at its base, on the homonymous pass connecting the two valleys.
Free climbing is a form of rock climbing in which the climber may use climbing equipment such as ropes and other means of climbing protection, but only to protect against injury during falls and not to assist progress. The climber makes progress by using physical ability to move over the rock via handholds and footholds. Free climbing more specifically may include traditional climbing, sport climbing, bouldering and most forms of solo climbing. Free climbing a multi-pitch route means free-climbing each of its pitches in a single session. At the end of each pitch, climbers are allowed to anchor themselves to belay stations and rest. If they fail climbing a pitch, they are allowed to use the rope to return to the beginning of that pitch and try it again.
Rock climbing is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control. Knowledge of proper climbing techniques and the use of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes.
Jean-Christophe Lafaille was a French mountaineer noted for a number of difficult ascents in the Alps and Himalaya, and for what has been described as "perhaps the finest self-rescue ever performed in the Himalaya", when he was forced to descend the mile-high south face of Annapurna alone with a broken arm, after his climbing partner had been killed in a fall. He climbed eleven of the fourteen eight-thousand-metre peaks, many of them alone or by previously unclimbed routes, but disappeared during a solo attempt to make the first winter ascent of Makalu, the world's fifth highest mountain.
Cerro Torre is one of the mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America. It is located in a region which is disputed between Argentina and Chile, west of Fitz Roy. The peak is the highest of a four mountain chain: the other peaks are Torre Egger, Punta Herron, and Cerro Standhardt. The top of the mountain often has a mushroom of rime ice, formed by the constant strong winds, increasing the difficulty of reaching the actual summit.
Tommy Caldwell is an American rock climber accomplished in sport climbing, hard traditional climbing, big-wall speed climbing, and big-wall free climbing. Caldwell made the first free ascents of several El Capitan routes in Yosemite National Park.
Cesare Maestri is an Italian mountaineer and writer.
Steve House is an American professional climber and mountain guide.
Although the practice of rock climbing was an important component of Victorian mountaineering in the Alps, it is generally thought that the sport of rock climbing began in the last quarter of the 19th century in at least three areas: Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony near Dresden, the north of England including the Peak district and Lake District, and the Dolomites in Italy. Rock climbing evolved gradually from an alpine necessity to an athletic sport in its own right, making it imprudent to cite a primogenitor of the latter in each of these three locales. Nevertheless, there is some general agreement on the following:
The Aiguille du Dru is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. It is situated to the east of the village of Les Praz in the Chamonix valley. "Aiguille" means "needle" in French.
The Dent du Géant is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in France and Italy.
Beth Rodden is an American rock climber known for her ascents of hard single pitch trad routes. She was the youngest woman to climb 5.14a (8b+), and is one of the only women in the world to have redpointed a 5.14c (8c+) traditional climb. Rodden and fellow climber Tommy Caldwell were partners from 2000 to 2010, during which time they completed the second free ascent of The Nose, and Rodden made the first ascent of Meltdown, one of the hardest traditional climbs in the world.
Jeff Lowe was a famed American alpinist from Ogden, Utah who was known for his visionary climbs and first ascents established in the US and Canadian Rockies, Alps and Himalayas. He was a proponent of the "Alpine style" philosophy of climbing, where small teams travel fast with minimal gear. Lowe made over 1000 first ascents.
Ueli Steck was a Swiss rock climber and mountaineer.
David Lama was an Austrian sport climber and mountaineer. He won the European Championship in bouldering in 2007 and the European Championship in lead climbing in 2006. He is known for his first free ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre. In 2018, in a solo expedition, he was the first to reach the summit of Lunag Ri in the Himalayas. In 2019, he was posthumously honoured with a Piolet d'Or for this first ascent.
Mayan Smith-Gobat is a professional big-wall climber from New Zealand and, as of 2019, held the record for fastest all-female team ascent of El Capitan's The Nose in Yosemite, California at four hours and forty three minutes. Smith-Gobat, along with climbing partner Libby Sauter, completed the climb in October, 2014. Other notable ascents include her 2012 first female ascent (FFA) of Punks in the Gym (5.14a) in the Arapiles climbing region of Australia, and the first all female Half Dome/El Cap link up in Yosemite in 2013.
Marc-André Leclerc was a Canadian rock climber and alpinist. Known for his solo ascents of numerous mountains in various parts of the world, he completed the first winter solo ascents of the Torre Egger in Patagonia, and the Emperor Face of Mount Robson.