In late April of 1336, the Italian humanist and poet Francesco Petrarch trekked to the windswept rocky summit of 6,263-foot Mont Ventoux in the Provence region of southern France. Petrarch, admiring the view from the top, read passages from the Confessions of Saint Augustine and ruminated on his experience of climbing the mountain.
Petrarch later penned a 6,000-word essay--The Ascent of Mont Ventoux--that described that experience. Because of his climbing story, one of the first records of a mountain climb, and because he climbed Ventoux simply for fun, to reach the summit and to look out across the world, Francesco Petrarch is considered the "father" of alpinism and the world's first true alpinist. While other previous men had also climbed mountains for pleasure, Petrarch's eloquence earned him that sobriquet.
Francesco Petrarch's account of climbing Mont Ventoux is fascinating. It reads like a modern climbing tale, with lots of interesting tidbits like his encounter with an old shepherd who warned him that the mountain was haunted and only danger awaited him or how to choose the right climbing partner, a section that is still apropos today.
Read more about Francesco Petrarch and his landmark ascent of Mont Ventoux in my new article Francesco Petrarch and The Ascent of Mont Ventoux -- Story of the World's First Alpinist and find out why the allegorical saga of his ascent was important to the start of The Renaissance and how it still shapes our relationship to the chaotic world out there where we climb and the inner world of our mountain experience.
Photographs above: (top) Francesco Petrarch was not only the first alpinist but also a poet, humanist, and one of the "fathers" of The Renaissance. (bottom) Petrarch enjoyed the view from the rocky summit of Mont Ventoux in 1336. Photograph courtesy Net Provence