Nonfiction

First Ascent

By Samuel Henderson

Have you ever stood atop a remote mountain and wondered how many other humans have stood there before you? There’s something truly unique and special about standing in a precarious location looking down upon nothing but raw nature, -not a soul insight. For that moment standing atop a mountain peak, you have a completely unique view that changes ever so quickly with the weather. Standing on the summit of a large mountain is a time limited gift, often well earned through your own physical, mental, and emotional strength.

Throughout history large mountains have been natural barriers, borders for both weather and invading militaries alike. They can offer protection and create destruction all in the same day. It takes a special set of skills and tools to conquer a huge mountain, to earn that brief time at the top, where nothing else seems to matter. Standing atop any mountain with a view is an incredible experience that many people find healing for their soul. Now imagine standing atop a mountain where no other human has been documented to have stood, or paving a unique new route up a mountain, this is referred to as a “first ascent.”

First ascents are the epitome of “cool,” amongst alpinist and mountaineers. They offer a one and only unique challenge. To be the first to complete something many people find challenging or downright impossible is an achievement that brings along with it, a great sense of pride and accomplishment. To stand atop a peak, where none have stood before, your eyes wander far and wide, soaking in every detail of the Earth below.

That moment, that feeling, as wonderful as it is, cannot be bottled, nor duplicated, it becomes a brief but ever lasting memory. An image of the surrounding scenery seared into your memory is the best you can hope for, pictures never quite do it justice. Sure, you can capture the view with a photo, but the camera lens cannot duplicate the challenges faced to earn it.

A view that is earned through your own sweat, tears, and blood cannot possibly be shared in full, through the lens of a camera. Although you will try to capture that moment, so you can look back and get that same summit feeling. It will never be the same, and the second time you climb it will never be the same either. For a first ascent is a once in a lifetime experience. Known by very few people alive today. First ascents offer a truly unique set of challenges that will test your body, mind and spirit, for Mother Nature is a great equalizer for all. To stand atop a summit, where no one else has stood, after conquering your own mind, that is “cool!”

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