The Mont Maudit wanderer

 

This tale comes from the Courmayeur area, right at the feet of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. It first appeared during the Renaissance, but no better origins can be traced.

As the story goes, in ancient times every mountain crevice and crack was filled with demons, dragons, monsters and goblins – and the worst haunted one was the Grand Mont (literally ‘huge mountain’). The mountain was constantly beaten by hail, rain and thunderstorms; rockslides were very frequent just as avalanches were. As a matter of fact, local dwellers called it the Mont Maudit (‘Cursed mountain’) and were so scared that they didn’t even look at it, much less climb its insidious paths.

One summer evening, however, a wanderer stopped by and asked the sheperds for some food and a place to sleep in their huts. They gladly obliged, and in return for their kindness the man promised to put an end to their plights as soon as winter came. Months passed, and at the end of autumn the fiercest snowstorm hit the mountain without however touching any of the grazing land. The whole mountain was encased in ice and snow, the evil creatures were imprisoned in its depths, and it stays so to this day.

In fact, the eternal snow changed the mountain so much that it had to be rechristened. The new name is, as you may have imagined, Mont Blanc, or the White Mountain.