person climbing snow covered mountain

The First Mountain Ever Climbed: Tracing the Origins of Mountaineering

Mountain climbing is a thrilling sport that has captured the imagination of adventurers for centuries. But, what was the first mountain ever climbed? Who were the pioneers of this challenging activity? What is the early history of mountain climbing, and how has it evolved? In this blog post, we will explore the answers to these questions and more.

What Was the First Mountain Ever Climbed?

The first mountain ever climbed is a subject of debate among historians and mountaineers. However, most experts agree that Mount Everest was not the first mountain to be conquered. The first recorded ascent of a mountain was in China in 219 BC. Emperor Qin Shi Huang dispatched a team of climbers to reach the summit of Mount Taishan, one of the country’s five sacred peaks.

What Is the Early History of Mountain Climbing?

Mountain climbing, or mountaineering, is a popular recreational activity that involves ascending mountains or other elevated terrain. Although it has become a widely popular pastime in recent times, the early history of mountain climbing dates back several centuries.

The Origins of Mountain Climbing

The history of mountain climbing dates back to ancient times when mountains were considered sacred places and believed to be the dwelling places of the gods. Climbing these peaks was seen as a spiritual endeavour, with rituals and ceremonies accompanying the ascent.

Ancient Civilizations and Their Relationship with Mountains

In ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, and Egypt, mountains played a vital role in religious and mythological beliefs. They were often associated with the gods and believed to be the homes of the divine. Climbing them was not only a way to commune with the gods but also a demonstration of strength and bravery.

Early Attempts at Mountain Climbing and Their Motivations

The modern era of mountain climbing began in the 18th century with the ascent of Mont Blanc in the Alps. This marked the beginning of an age of exploration and adventure as mountaineers sought to climb the highest peaks in the world. The motivations for these early expeditions were varied, ranging from scientific discovery to national pride to personal accomplishment.

What Was the First Recorded Mountain Climb?

Mountaineering is an ancient activity, and it is not known exactly when humans started climbing mountains. However, we do have records of mountaineering activities dating back thousands of years. The first recorded mountain climb, as we know it, is believed to have taken place in the mid-18th century.

The Mountain: Mount Fuji in Japan

Mount Fuji, also known as Fuji-san, is an active stratovolcano located on the Honshu Island of Japan. It is the tallest mountain in Japan, with a height of 3,776.24 meters. The mountain has been a sacred site in Japan for centuries and is considered a symbol of the country’s culture and history. The mountain has inspired many artists and writers, and it continues to attract thousands of tourists every year.

Who Climbed It and When

The first recorded climb of Mount Fuji happened in 663 AD, by an anonymous monk named En no Ozunu. En no Ozunu was a founder of the Shugendo religion, a Japanese folk religion that blends Buddhism, Shintoism, and other indigenous beliefs. He was on a spiritual journey when he decided to climb Mount Fuji. En no Ozunu’s climb was not for recreation or adventure, but it was part of his spiritual quest.

The second recorded climb of Mount Fuji was in 804 AD by the monk Saicho. Saicho was a founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism and was also on a spiritual journey. He climbed Mount Fuji to pray for the welfare of Japan.

In the late 16th century, the Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi climbed Mount Fuji as part of a military expedition. He built a fortress on the summit, which was used to monitor his enemy’s movements.

The Significance of This Climb

The first recorded climb of Mount Fuji holds great significance in Japanese history and culture. The climb by En no Ozunu is considered the beginning of mountain worship in Japan, which is an integral part of Japanese culture. Mountain worship, or Shugendo, is a spiritual practice that involves climbing mountains, visiting sacred sites, and performing rituals to connect with nature and attain spiritual enlightenment.

The climb by Saicho also holds great importance in Japanese history, as he is considered the founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism, which played a crucial role in the development of Japanese culture and religion.

Are There Any Other Early Mountain Climbs?

Mountain climbing has been a popular activity for centuries, and the early history of mountain climbing is rich with stories of adventure, daring, and triumph. While Mount Fuji in Japan is considered to be the first recorded mountain climb, there were many other early mountain climbs in Europe that was equally significant

The First Recorded Mountain Climb in Europe

The first recorded mountain climb in Europe is believed to have taken place in the Swiss Alps in the late 18th century. In 1786, Jacques Balmat, a mountain guide from Chamonix, and Michel-Gabriel Paccard, a physician from Savoy, made the first ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. This climb was a major achievement at the time, as it was considered to be impossible to climb the mountain due to its steepness and the unpredictable weather conditions

Famous Early Climbers and Their Achievements

Following Balmat and Paccard’s ascent of Mont Blanc, many other early climbers began to explore the mountains of Europe. One of the most famous early climbers was Edward Whymper, an English mountaineer who is best known for his first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Whymper’s climb of the Matterhorn was a significant achievement, as it was considered to be one of the most difficult mountains in the Alps to climb at the time.

Another famous early climber was Sir Chris Bonington, a British mountaineer who is best known for his ascents of the Eiger, the Matterhorn, and Mount Everest. Bonington’s climb of the Eiger in 1962 was particularly notable, as it was one of the first climbs of the mountain’s notorious north face. Bonington’s success on the Eiger helped establish him as one of the greatest mountaineers of his time.

How Mountain Climbing Changed Over Time

As mountain climbing became more popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, climbers began to push the boundaries of what was possible. Mountaineering techniques and equipment improved, allowing climbers to attempt more challenging peaks and routes. The development of new climbing techniques, such as the use of fixed ropes and ice axes, allowed climbers to conquer mountains that were once considered impossible.

Read about: Who are some of the most famous mountaineers in history


Mountain climbing has a long and storied history, dating back to ancient civilizations and their reverence for the peaks that surrounded them. The first mountain ever climbed was likely Mount Taishan in China, but since then, many mountains around the world have been conquered. Early mountain climbers were motivated by a variety of factors, from scientific discovery to personal achievement, and their efforts laid the foundation for modern mountaineering. Today, mountain climbing faces a new challenge in the form of climate change, which threatens to alter the landscapes and ecosystems that make these peaks so special. But with a spirit of adventure and a commitment to preservation, we can continue to enjoy the majesty and wonder of the mountains for generations to come.


What equipment did the first mountain climbers use?

The first mountain climbers likely used very basic equipment, such as ropes made from animal hides, and would have climbed barefoot or with simple footwear.

What is the highest mountain in the world?

The highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest, which is located in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and Tibet. It has an elevation of 8,848 meters (29,029 feet).

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