Skip to main content

Monte Bianco and the Giant's Tooth

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 mercilessly harsh at this altitude, and the mighty Monte Bianco has to be one of the most impressive of natural wonders in Italy. We were nearing the region's northern border again, avoiding the Mont Blanc tunnel leading into Chamonix, France, and getting close enough to gaze in wonder at what is known as the 11th highest peak in the world. She is majestic at 15,781 feet above sea level, and therefore demanding the sort of climbing skills way beyond our experience.

We'll probably never visit during the busy ski season but there's one unique feature that nature buffs would appreciate - 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.

Once upon a time evil spirits roamed free in 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.

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

Three waterfalls cascade from melting glacial snow


Amber said…
My quads hurt at the mere thought of climbing about there... but what stunning views!
'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!
I have only ever seen this from a birds eye view, flying over with the plane. Always breathaking!
casalba said…
Sorry to be repetitious, but those photos... stunning, breathtaking and all that jazz. Great job, Rowena.
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 :)
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.
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...
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...
Rowena... said…
Brad - that must've been great living in El Paso. Just the skyline!

Farfalle - thank you ma'am, and you are so right on scenic 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.
Anonymous said…
The pictures are gorgeous! It reminds me a bit of Patagonia.

My knees still hurt from climbing to get the best view there :$
Rowena... said…
Zhu - one day we'll get to Patagonia...for me it is the ultimate dream destination. Heaven on earth!

Popular posts from this blog

Fun in the sun and snow at Alpe Giumello

Why do weekends with perfect weather always have to be so short? This past Saturday and Sunday was the one that anybody with a pulse has been wanting for a long time, the weekend with ZERO rain, no snowfall and nothing but blue skies all around. We had the intention of hiking around the base of Monte Muggio, a 3-hour loop trail that begins from the parking area at località Alpe Giumello, but ice on the trail made it a dangerous gamble. If we had been able to get to the very top of Monte Muggio it would have afforded us a spectacular panorama with Bellagio jutting out in the middle of the lake.Even if a good, long hike was out of the question, there was plenty of wide open space to go for a stroll. We walked the dogs out on the flat plains on the eastern side of Giumello, all of which were covered in a thick layer of packed snow. In less than 30 minutes time we had built up enough of an appetite for a quick lunch at Ristoro Genio, a cozy little bar and restaurant serving hot meals…

In the news: from blogosphere to printed publication

It's just a little thing really, but when a staff member from a periodical for Italy's Alpini requested permission to reprint one of my blog entries, I had no idea how surprised, and I have to admit, a little bit sheepish I'd feel after seeing my Tasi e Tira article taking up half the space on page 12. I just received my copy in the mail. The entry was posted over a year ago but through the vast reaches of the internet it goes to show what nice things can happen when you try to immerse yourself in a culture not your own. Perhaps the word "immerse" is rather modest as I like to jump right into the middle of things and get up close and personal. What tickles me the most is that this blog started off as a way of amusing myself (and expanding my knowledge of the country's cuisine), but getting published...whoa! It's like icing on the cake!
Click to view large

Good day for a hike: 2500 feet, 23 km and 7.5 hours

A hunk of bread, a wedge of aged sheep's cheese, a couple canteens of water and some fruit. I regret not being able to share a more thorough and detailed trail description but this was more for practice and not for the lofty views. Ever since the movie The Way, we both had to know what one 20 kilometer day (12+ miles) would feel like if we were to embark on, at most, the 40-day 800 kilometer Camino de Santiago in Spain. That's a lot of walking. I think I would get real skinny if I missed a meal.Lecco's mountains are covered in so many up-and-down trails that all you need do is get to any village above the lake. We started at an altitude of 670 meters and walked up another 762 to the top of Monte Tesoro in Valcava. That's a height difference of 2500 feet, 8 kilometers and 2.5 hours at a steady pace with Maddie and Mr B in tow. From there we made a loop trip back down, stopping often to munch on vittles and to take a look around. Altogether a total of 23 kilomete…