“This premier female ascent of Mont Blanc boosted Balmats reputation and made Marie Paradis one of the valleys most famous characters”

The 18th and 19th centuries were the age of “enlightenment” across Europe; an era in which Romantic notions of the sublime inflated climbers’ aspirations. Our obsession with “who got to the top first” may have begun in 1786, the year Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard climbed Mont Blanc. Twenty-two years later, and decades before women even had the right to vote, we had joined the worlds most official, unofficial race of first summiteers and premier ascents.

The first recorded female ascent worldwide dates back to 1799, right here in this region, near Vallorcine. One mysterious ‘Miss Parminter’ was recorded as having climbed “on” Mt Buet, known commonly as the “Ladies’ Mont-Blanc” at 3096m.[1] Nine years on and practically eclipsing this feat, is the summit of Mont Blanc in 1808 by Marie Paradis.

 

 

Originally published in  Hiiker 

As the story goes, in the words of Jacques Balmat himself, he and two other guides had decided to make an ascent for their own amusement. At the start of the expedition they encountered a pretty French maidservant, Marie (or Maria) Paradis serving in a hostel. Balmat persuaded her to accompany them by force of charm, and the promise of fame and fortune; “I am an old wolf of the mountains” he said, “even I will not promise to succeed. All I ask you is to be courageous”.[2]

After a long walk to the Grands-Mulets at 3015m, and some small complaints about the pace, a good night’s rest awaited. The next day, things became more difficult, but never the less historic. On July 14th 1808 Marie Paradis was the first woman to summit Mont Blanc at 4810m. She was 18 years old.

Despite becoming ill mid-way, she swore “she would rather die than descend without having placed her foot upon the spot where M. de Saussure had placed his”. According to scholars she vomited and was seized with nervous attacks but insisted she would die happy should she just reach the summit. After reaching the top Marie famously told her companions “throw me in a crevasse, and go where you want.” [3]

On her return her recollection was far from the sublime, and closer to a hang-over; she claimed she had climbed, had trouble breathing, nearly died, was dragged and carried by her guides, saw black and white and then came down again.

This premier female ascent of Mont Blanc boosted Balmats reputation and made Marie Paradis one of the valleys most famous characters; ‘Marie du Mont Blanc’. Proving exponentially that the infamous Mont Blanc can make both dreams and money a reality for the most dexterous of opponents. Paradis succeeded in playing fame to her favour; As the first woman to achieve such a remarkable feat, travellers sought her out and paid for the pleasure of hearing her story. [5] Today you might consider her mind-set like that of a YouTube starlet, the more outrageous their publication; the more views they shall receive and therefore ad-money.

Marie went on to open a teashop at the now vanished “bouncing cascade”, or waterfall, of Les Pelerins in Chamonix. As promised, she was well tipped by her clients and remains famous to this day. You can see her as the matriarch of mountaineering in the valley of Chamonix, peering from the top window of the famous ‘figures of mountaineering’ mural at Place Balmat, Chamonix. Like many of the characters from this era she also has a street named after her “Promenade Marie-Paradis”, the elementary school of Saint Gervais also bears her name.[6]

Marie’s success is not only remarkable in the sense that she sought to monetize her experience, but also within the context of early 19th century women’s mountaineering. At the time, most outdoor activities, sports and particularly mountaineering, was reserved for men of the leisure class.[7] Any women mountaineers were drawn from the leisured and/or monied middle, upper middle and aristocratic classes.[8] Marie’s accomplishment upset not only gender stereotypes, but also cultural ones. With her triumph over Mont Blanc she became the ultimate working class hero. She proved a working-class girl of ordinary origins possessed the physical and mental capacity to undertake great sporting challenges, once reserved for the wealthy, as well as men. Working-class women from servants, to crystal gatherers, to prostitutes; could now also become historical figures with the right personal excursion.

From humble beginnings Paradis’ feat was followed by that of a wealthy French countess, Henriette D’Angeville, who successfully summited Mont Blanc in 1838. In her French narrative of the ascent, D’Angeville declared mountaineering lacked a “feminine stamp” and encouraged her female successors to publish their experiences in their own words.

The woman in question, Henriette D’Angeville, was a forty-four year old countess from an established and wealthy French family. D’Angevilles upper-class background typifies the sort of woman who took on mountaineering challenges in the 19th and early 20th centuries. D’Angevilles wealth enabled her to purchase considerable goods and services to assure her own comfort and safety on the climb; Notably where Paradis wore a full skirt and reached the summit over two days, D’angeville completed the ascent in several days wearing a self-made 7kg outfit, that included, socially frowned upon, Knickerbocker pants. Meanwhile, in Chamonix, local men had placed bets on which point of the ascent she would give up. [9]

Both d’Angeville and her contemporaries came to view her own ascent as the true ‘first’ because Marie Paradis, the prior claimant, was allegedly ‘dragged’ to the summit.[10]

While Marie Paradis never climbed again and certainly had a helping hand in her 1808 conquest, Henriette d’Angeville was a passionate alpinist who reached the summit unaided and continued her climbing career into her late sixties.[11]

So before you start thinking your feet are feeling heavy, or your thermals could do with a good wash. Imagine your accomplishments thus far in a full Victorian skirt with the entire town betting against you. Marie Paradis like a Cinderella red riding hood followed the wolf up the Mont Blanc and got a fairytale ending. The moral of the story is; That with the right friends to drag you to the top, you can truly achieve great things.

 

[1] Megan Walsh, Can't Keep Her Down: A Consolidated History of Women’s Climbing Achievements, Climbing.com, 2017

[2] Fergus Fleming, Killing Dragons: The Conquest of the Alps, 2000, page 77

[3] Peter H. Hansen, The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering after the Enlightenment, Harvard University Press, 2013, p.173

[4] Fergus Fleming, Killing Dragons: The Conquest of the Alps, 2000, page 78

[5] Allen, Victoria, Travelling Ladies: Victorian Adventuresses, London: Jupiter Books, 1980.

[6] Gaston Rebuffat, Mont Blanc, jardin féerique, Editions Denoel, 1987

[7] Mountaineers: Great Tales of Bravery and Conquest De Royal Geographical Society, The Alpine Club, page 150

[8] Bohls, Elizabeth A, Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics, Pages 1716,1818, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

[9] Laeticia FT, The First Woman to Climb Mont Blanc, Sky Above us
[10] Peter H. Hansen, The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering after the Enlightenment, Harvard University Press, 2013, p.173

[11] Demet Güzey, Food on Foot: A History of Eating on Trails and in the Wild, pages 64,65

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0 0

298 thoughts on “Chamonix : Marie Paradis

  1. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

  2. I think the admin of this web site is really working hard in favor of his web page, because here every material
    is quality based stuff.

  3. Very good site you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any user discussion forums
    that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I
    can get feedback from other knowledgeable people that share the same
    interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Thanks!

  4. Hurrah! At last I got a webpage from where I know how to genuinely get helpful facts concerning my study and knowledge.

  5. Hello to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this site,
    and your views are fastidious in support of new visitors.

  6. When some one searches for his essential thing, thus he/she desires
    to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over
    here.

  7. Это очень плотный камень, который не пропускает влагу, устойчив к деформациям,
    колебаниям температуры воздуха, ультрафиолетовому излучению и отлично
    подходит для использования на открытом воздухе. Срок службы гранитных
    изделий составляет 500-600 лет, что в разы превосходит все другие породы камня.
    Гранитная мастерская

  8. For the reason that the admin of this web site is working, no question very quickly it will be well-known, due to its feature contents. Annmaria Nikolaos Mufi

  9. Miccclcob says:

    Scorpions Lolita Girls Fucked Assemblage

    Pthc cp offline forum

    xtl.jp/?pr

  10. LeonardTidge says:

    Продажи с помощью Pinterest. Смотрите Видео: Сотни Продаж на Etsy, amazon, ebay, shopify за 2 месяца при ср.цене чека 300 usd https://youtu.be/GNOZtXGGM-I

  11. Miccclcob says:

    Scorpions Lolita Girls Fucked Anthology

    Pthc cp offline forum

    xtl.jp/?pr

  12. Futbol TV телеканалининг 14 декабрь кунги кўрсатувлар дастури
    Sport TV телеканалининг 14 декабрь кунги кўрсатувлар дастури

    transfer yangiliklari

  13. Важным условием подбора во выгоду Чехии считается богемское
    формирование, соло с наиболее древнейших также признаваемых
    в абсолютно всем обществе.

    Нострификация в Чехии

    Безвозмездное высочайшее образование
    во Чехии – смотри фактор, согласно каковой тыс. учащихся с
    в целом общества каждый год прибывают с целью рента во
    университеты Богемской республики.

  14. We at Pezalli, produce high quality shirts for discerning gentleman, entirely hand crafted. From exquisite fit and comfort to impeccable elegance, this shirt offers you the 바카라 best of both British traditional craftsmanship and modern Italian design.

  15. Hiya! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site
    looks weird when viewing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able
    to correct this issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    With thanks!

  16. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time
    to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things
    or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article.
    I desire to read more things about it!

  17. You could certainly see your skills in the paintings you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  18. Howdy! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept talking about this. I will forward this post
    to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read.

    Many thanks for sharing!

  19. It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the long run and it is time to
    be happy. I have read this submit and if I could I want to
    counsel you some fascinating things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles
    regarding this article. I wish to learn even more things about
    it!

  20. I every time used to study article in news papers but now as I am a user of net therefore
    from now I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  21. I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet visitors, its really really fastidious piece of
    writing on building up new website.

  22. It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to
    be happy. I have read this put up and if I may just I want to suggest
    you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to learn even more issues about it!

  23. I know this web site presents quality based articles or reviews and additional information, is there any other site which gives such information in quality?| Editha Alastair Ozkum

  24. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there. Kass Rodrigo Belanger

  25. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Suspendisse potenti. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Ut vitae lacus justo. Mauris quis imperdiet elit. Donec vitae lacus nibh. Aenean in rutrum orci. Ut augue diam, facilisis nec nibh eget, ultricies maximus sapien. Sherri Regan Bertie

  26. Could fresh ginger sub for ground? I just used all mine up on a pumpkin spice situation Golda Lammond Alfeus

  27. My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks! Adele Tammy Garcia

  28. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks| Janis Wit Jacquet

  29. I hope the Bass Lure fishing group can get out with you later in the year. Our boat trips have been in the Solent but looking forward to a bass trip out of brighton in 2013. Regards, Ed Milicent Forrest Shirlee

  30. This post will help the internet users for setting up new website or even a blog from start to end. Elenore Raoul Papotto

  31. Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality used to be a leisure account it. Glance advanced to far introduced agreeable from you! However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  32. CarlosGrath says:

    Самые лучшие сигналы на IPO в 2021 году только на канале https://t.me/investtimepro. Подписывайся и не пропусти свою лучшую сделку!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>