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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.
Overwhelmingly, the idea of a "first ascent" is a modern one, especially in places such as Africa and the Americas with a history of colonialism. There may be little or no physical evidence or documentation about the climbing activities of indigenous peoples living near the mountain. For example, the volcano Llullaillaco on the border of Argentina and Chile is known to have been climbed in the prehistoric period due to the presence of Incan artifacts at the summit, yet credit for the first recorded ascent is given to Chilean climbers Bión González and Juan Harseim, who summited in 1952.
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.
Mount Everest is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal and China runs across its summit point.
Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft), after Mount Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga. Part of the Everest massif, Lhotse is connected to the latter peak via the South Col. Lhotse means “South Peak” in Tibetan. In addition to the main summit at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft) above sea level, the mountain comprises the smaller peaks Lhotse Middle (East) at 8,414 m (27,605 ft), and Lhotse Shar at 8,383 m (27,503 ft). The summit is on the border between Tibet of China and the Khumbu region of Nepal.
Reinhold Andreas Messner is an Italian mountaineer, explorer, and author. He made the first solo ascent of Mount Everest, the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen, along with Peter Habeler, and was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level. He was also the first person to cross Antarctica and Greenland with neither snowmobiles nor dog sleds. Furthermore, he crossed the Gobi Desert alone. Messner also 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 International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation or UIAA recognise eight-thousanders as the 14 mountains that are more than 8,000 metres (26,247 ft) in height above sea level, and are considered to be sufficiently independent from neighbouring peaks. However, there is no precise definition of the criteria used to assess independence, and since 2012 the UIAA has been involved in a process to consider whether the list should be expanded to 20 mountains. All eight-thousanders are located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia, and their summits are in the death zone.
Broad Peak is a Himalayan mountain on the border of Pakistan and China, the 12th highest mountain in the world at 8,047 metres (26,401 ft) above sea level. It was first ascended in June 1957 by Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl of an Austrian expedition.
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 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.
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.
Wojciech Kurtyka is a Polish mountaineer and rock climber, one of the pioneers of the alpine style of climbing the biggest walls in the Greater Ranges. He lived in Wrocław up to 1974 when he moved to Kraków. He graduated as engineer in electronics. In 1985 he conquered the "Shining Wall" Gasherbrum IV, which Climbing magazine declared to be the greatest achievement of mountaineering in the twentieth century. In 2016, he received the Piolet d'Or for lifetime achievement in mountaineering.
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.
John Roskelley is an American mountain climber and author. He made first ascents and notable ascents of 7000 and 8000 meter peaks in Nepal, India, and Pakistan. His son Jess Roskelley was also a mountain climber.
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.
Hansjörg Auer was an Austrian mountaineer, noted for his free solo climbs, particularly of "The Fish" in the Italian Dolomites. National Geographic described him as "one of the boldest and best climbers in the world." He died in an avalanche while climbing on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies.