Taking a look at the Corpus of Contemporary American English, there seems to be an about equal number of ascent of versus ascent to. Examples from the corpus:

[...]an expedition in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first American ascent of Everest.

The ascent to Mountain Lake Lodge is a slow, winding seven miles.

I was wondering whether there is a sense or "process" when using the preposition to, meaning an ascent that is perhaps not completed, whereas ascent of would be preferred when referring to the actual conquest of a mountain.

  • The ascent of Mt. Everest in your example is a completed act; the ascent to Mountain Lake Lodge is a process, slow and winding. – KarlG Jan 24 '18 at 7:47
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    Mount Lake Lodge apparently is at a hilltop, so the ascent to the lodge (ascent of the hill) is slow. HTH. – Kris Jan 24 '18 at 8:04

No, choosing of or to doesn't relate to the process of ascent.

The ascent of X relates to the thing being scaled (e.g. X may be a mountain), while the ascent to Y relates to the destination (e.g. Y may be the peak of the mountain).

of preposition 6.2 Followed by a noun expressing the object of the verb underlying the first noun. ‘payment of his debts’ - ODO

to preposition 1Expressing motion in the direction of (a particular location) ‘my first visit to Africa’ - ODO

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