We won't be telling you anything new if we say that the human race, in general, we are a bit crazy. And this thing of climbing huge mountains just for the sake of it, is one of the many things that could support such a statement.
That’s what we were thinking about when we started writing this audio guide about the Monte Perdido, located in the Ordesa National Park. Because, although the climbers say that, for being a three thousand meter mountain, it is relatively easy to climb, we should emphasise that relatively.
A good reason for this is the area called “la escupidera”, “the spittoon”, an ice slide where many mountaineers have been “spit out” to the afterlife by a simple stumble or slip.
The Monte Perdido is a 3,355-meter high rock, and it forms part of the so-called “Tres Sorores” or “Tres Hermanas” (Three Sisters). One of the other two peaks of the trio is the Añisclo, also known as Soum De Ramond in honour of Ramond de Carbonieres. And it is precisely him who we wanted to talk about.
Ramond lived during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a time when human beings began to take an interest in the mountains. Until then the effort devoted to marine explorations had been tremendous, but the rock giants were still admired from a prudent distance.
Dramatic changes came in the times of Carbonieres. Some of them rolled heads in the native France of our character, but others had to do with a new way of looking at the world. Ramond came to the mountains by chance, as the secretary of a cardinal who had to run away from the Courts. And so, he decided to study and explore those places and those peaks, especially the Monte Perdido, a region that was surrounded by a halo of mystery at the time.
Our friend Carbonieres liked his heights, but there was nothing like the Gore-Tex or any of the equipment that, today, facilitate this kind of adventure. So, as smart as he was, he sent others ahead on an exploratory expedition.
Apparently, that expedition had instructions not to try to reach the top, but the fact is that guided by a pastor, they went up and up, and suddenly they were on the summit. It was August the sixth, 1802, when Rondo and Laurens completed the climb, a few days later Carbonieres would do it too, and we suppose that he was quite mad at his advance party colleagues.
However, nobody knows for sure who was the first person to reach that summit, it could’ve been a hunter, a goatherd or a military cartographer. Or maybe a mountaineer who wanted to impress his girlfriend. The point, you know, is not so much who did it first, but who told it first.