Marie Paradis (1778 – 1839) was the first woman to climb Mont Blanc.
Paradis was a poor maidservant who lived in
Chamonix at that time part
of the Kingdom of Sardinia. On 14 July 1808, in the company of
renowned mountain guide Jacques Balmat, she became the first woman to
climb Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain. The party camped on
the Grands Mulets, and during the final ascent Paradis became fatigued
and was assisted by her guides. On the summit, Paradis was in such
poor condition that she had difficulty breathing, was unable to speak,
and could not see. Exhausted and quite undone by her efforts, she
begged her companions to throw her into the nearest crevasse to end
Mark Twain reports that she took her boyfriend with her, a
detail not found in other sources. In 1809 she recorded her
experience in an "admirably graphic and picturesque" account. Le
Blond reports that Paradis made "quite a fortune" out of her
Afterward she was known as "Maria de Mont Blanc"; Charles Edward
Mathews notes, in The Annals of Mont Blanc, that after her own
successful climb she would leave refreshments for others who attempted
Mont Blanc. The second woman to climb
Mont Blanc did so thirty
years after her; when
Henriette d'Angeville celebrated her successful
ascent in Chamonix, she was congratulated by Paradis who had received
her special, personal invitation.
^ Brown 3–11.
^ Mathews 118-19.
^ Twain 171.
^ Le Blond 203–204.
^ Le Blond, Mrs Aubrey (1903). True Tales of Mountain Adventure. E.T.
Dutton & Company. pp. 203–204.
^ Clark et al. 24–25.
^ Mathews 118-19.
^ Brown 26–28.
Brown, Rebecca A. (2002). Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering.
Appalachian Mountain Club Books. ISBN 1-929173-13-X.
Clark, Edmund; H. H. Jackson (1826). Ascents of Mont Blanc. Colburn's
New Monthly Magazine.
Le Blond, Aubrey (1903). True tales of mountain adventures for
non-climbers young and old. Unwin.
Mathews, Charles Edward (1898). The annals of Mont Blanc. Unwin.
Twain, Mark (1907). A Tramp Abroad. Harper and brothers.