All great mountains have their own legend, and the Maladeta Massif is no different. Let us take a look at its story.

Its history

Far from civilisation, the Maladeta Massif and Aneto were an unknown for the mountain dwellers who resisted the temptation to give up on their pagan beliefs, myths and legends.

As legend has it, a group of eight farmers, with their herd of cattle made up of over 1,000 animals, enjoyed the green pastures this mountain had to offer. But their greed and their refusal to take in a lost pilgrim angered the lords of the land, who condemned this small Eden to cold for the rest of eternity. The pastures froze over and were replaced by glaciers. The sheep turned into rocks on the ice, while the eight farmers were raised towards the sky, eventually becoming the eight peaks of the massif.

There are countless other stories and myths about the origins of this mountain, but this is perhaps the oldest.

The end of the silence

During the 18th century, a great interest in mountains was aroused. Until then, nobody climbed them, and only the more accessible passes through hilly terrain were used by settlements in order to communicate with one another.

During this period, the military’s desire to control elevated land led to it being mapped, and these cartographers became the first mountaineers in history – the first men who contemplated their imposing peaks and accurately sketched and measured them.

Back then, French cartographer La Blottière became determined to dethrone Monte Perdido as the highest mountain in the Pyrenees, and he began to focus his attention instead on the Maladeta Massif. The year-round snow and the thickness of the body of ice he found there would lay the basis of the hypothesis that would be confirmed years later. 

Louis Ramond de Carbonnières

Louis Ramond de Carbonnières, a distinguished Frenchman, together with Vidal and Reboul, grew tired of being limited to drawing and measuring mountains and instead set out to trek them, documenting their rocks, fossils and plants. They wished to discover the unknown, eager to be the first men to wander where none had gone before.

It was this that drove a young Louis Ramond to attempt to reach the summit of the mountain deemed as cursed by the mountain dwellers, the one whose pastures were frozen over long ago: Maladeta.

Although he was unsuccessful, Louis Ramond’s failed attempt did, however, grant him the opportunity to gain a better perspective of the true dimensions of a peak hidden behind Cresta de los Portillones: Aneto.


First ascent