Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Monte Bianco and the Giant's Tooth

Monte Bianco and Dente del Gigante
Panoramic view as seen from the charming town of Pre-St-Didier in Valle d'Aosta.
Monte Bianco on the left, the Giant's Tooth on the right, signaled by an arrow.

3rd day, Courmayeur — The big alpine blue. It just takes your breath away. The sun is very harsh at this altitude, and the mighty Monte Bianco has easily got to be one of the most impressive of natural wonders in Italy. We were nearing the region's northern border again, avoiding the mountain tunnel (Mont Blanc) leading into Chamonix, France, and getting up close enough to gaze in wonder at what is known as the 11th highest peak in the world. She is absolutely stunning (rising 15,781 feet above sea level), thus necessitating climbing skills way, way beyond our experience. Not born for the slopes, we'll probably never visit during winter's busy ski season but there is one unique feature that's a hit with nature photography buffs like myself - il Dente del Gigante - the Giant's Tooth. Second in popularity to Monte Bianco, this "tooth" is surrounded by myth for which I share an adaptation of the original. The giant in this case is Gargantua (of François Rabelais lore, not the japanese version). Upon his death, arrangements had been made for his tooth to be thrust into the icy white of Monte Bianco. Legend has it that within the tooth malicious spirits are desperately trying to escape. Let's hope they never do.

Monte Bianco Dente del Gigante Dente del Gigante (zoom out)

Once upon a time evil spirits roamed free in the Valle d'Aosta. Desperate to be rid of such miserable trouble, the populace sought help from a magician in a faraway land. Moved by the people's distress, the magician went up into the valley uttering strange words, luring the attention of the unholy beings. They swarmed down the mountainside in large numbers: from the ravines, from the forests, from streams and rivers formed by the melting snow. Unable to resist the magician's pull, they followed as he led them all to Monte Bianco. Once there, the spirits were thrown into an icy abyss by an unseen force, to be imprisoned forever with the door of the Giant's Tooth. [That there tooth is one bad cavity.]

Eastern range - Monte Bianco
A section of the Grandes Jorasses, northeastern range of the Monte Bianco massif

Waterfalls at Grandes Jorasses
Three waterfalls cascade from melting glacial snow



Blogger Amber said...

My quads hurt at the mere thought of climbing about there... but what stunning views!

3:12 AM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Peter at italyMONDO! said...

'Stunning' doesn't do those view justice. Wow! Simply breathtaking.

So interesting on the "dente del gigante" story, too. Can't wait to make it up there myself!

4:24 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

I have only ever seen this from a birds eye view, flying over with the plane. Always breathaking!

8:43 AM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous casalba said...

Sorry to be repetitious, but those photos... stunning, breathtaking and all that jazz. Great job, Rowena.

9:21 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Barbara said...

Hi Ro,

Aoste is a special place for D & I too.
I've always related very well with mountains since I've been in Europe. There's a special energy & feeling up there.

Thanx for sharing :)

9:57 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Amber - my jaw must've dropped a meter gazing up at this place. It suddenly makes you realize how tiny we are in the whole scheme of things.

Peter - a shame that we didn't hike anywhere near here, but at least now we know better to go when the temps are a bit cooler. Truly awesome area!

Scintilla - at some point while taking in the scenery, I wished that I could fly like Superman!

Casalba - thank you kindly, but the next time I hope to be shooting from the top instead of the bottom. ^-^

Barbara - I couldn't agree with your more on that sentiment. Majestic, mighty, marvelous...there simply are no words that truly capture the emotions that these mountains bring out in me.

10:23 AM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Brad Farless said...

That's definitely some beautiful scenery. I've always enjoyed walking about in the woods, or, when I lived in El Paso, on the mountains.

The story reminds me of the Pied Piper a bit...

7:53 PM, September 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your pictures are stunning - so hard to take good photos of such big scenery, but you really capture the feeling. Love the story, too...

10:07 PM, September 02, 2009  
Blogger Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Breath taking!

4:28 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger K and S said...


9:53 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Brad - that must've been great living in El Paso. Just the skyline alone...wow!

Farfalle - thank you ma'am, and you are so right on scenic photography...it seems almost ridiculous when trying to resize them into a more manageable upload.

Foodie, Kat - I voiced those exact sentiments. It really does leave you at a loss for words.

10:04 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Zhu said...

The pictures are gorgeous! It reminds me a bit of Patagonia.

My knees still hurt from climbing to get the best view there :$

4:47 AM, September 05, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Zhu - one day we'll get to Patagonia...for me it is the ultimate dream destination. Heaven on earth!

11:32 AM, September 05, 2009  

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