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For more than 150 years, map makers and local people argued that the Petit Muveran – which looks just like a tooth – must have lost its name to the Dent Favre. Now, Aiglon Magazine can reveal the truth. Sort of.
THEY ARE AS FAMILIAR A SIGHT to Aiglonians as the orange tents used for expedition. But while the appearance and names of the peaks that surround Aiglon might be some of the first things new students learn, until recently, those very names were in dispute. The peaks in question are the Dent Favre and the Petit Muveran – and the argument rests on the idea that the names were once inadvertently switched by a careless cartographer. The issue came to prominence again last year, when former conservationist in the canton of Vaud, Jean-Pierre Reitz, told the Swiss newspaper 24 Heures that he was sure that at some point the names of the two peaks must have been swapped. In short, the mountain we know as the Dent Favre is actually the Petit Muveran – and the Petit Muveran should really be called the Dent Favre. In fact, Mr Reitz is only the most recent in a long line – going back 150 years – to declare that the mountains have been misnamed. Indeed, in 2013, Olivier Epars, local Green Party politician, even asked the State Council to consider the issue.
So why are so many mountaineers and local people convinced by the story? It all comes down to the fact that the Petit Muveran looks like a tooth, whereas the Dent Favre looks like a small version of the Grand Muveran. Yet despite the level of support, no ancient map has been found that can prove the theory. Mr Epars was told by Nuria Gorrite, the Vaudoise State Council president: “According to the evidence available to the State Council, this cartographical inversion appears to be a myth.”
And indeed, local guide, Pierre Delaloye, believes that while the names of these particular peaks are correct, “there are certainly other mountains where this seems to have happened. There is a similar theory that the Dent d’Hérens and the Dent Blanche in the Valais have exchanged names after a mapping error, the former being far whiter than the latter.” Which means that new Aiglonians who have just mastered the names of the peaks can rest easy: for now, at least, the Dent Favre and Petit Muveran can stay as they are.
From the Aiglon Magazine, Issue 11
Words by Sandra Haurant
Photo by Jean-Pierre Novelli (Technician, IT Department)