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In climbing, 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 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.
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, artefacts, or inscriptions at the top. Today, first ascents are generally carefully recorded and usually mentioned in guidebooks.
Related terms 
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.
Another type of ascent, also known as FFA (not the 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.
See also 
- List of first ascents
- List of first ascents in the Alps
- List of first ascents in the Himalaya
- Glossary of climbing terms
- Alpinist Magazine – Peter Mortimer's First Ascent, Issue 17.