The word could be a corruption of barbe glacées,
which translates to "frozen beards".
Barbegazi look very similar to other gnomes. They are considerably shorter than Man and vary from average to stocky build. With pointed ears and ice-blue eyes, Barbegazi hair is covered with thick clumps of icicles that seem to shimmer in the light. Covered with pure white body hair the males grow great amounts of facial hair. Unlike most hibernating mammals, Barbegazi hibernate during warm weather and emerge only after the first heavy snowfall of winter.
What sets the Barbegazi apart physically from most other species of gnome are their large feet and which allow them to easily walk and ski over snow as well as dig tunnels. With those feet, Barbegazi can tunnel into, under, out of, and through snow very easily. Should the need arise, a Barbegazi can cover himself with snow in seconds, and dig himself out no matter how deep he may be buried.
Barbegazi's traditional dress is a white-fur garment that is unisex in design, which can make it hard to tell a male from a female at a distance. Barbegazi speech has been likened to the whistling of a marmot (a small furry Alpine mammal). They also can communicate over long distances by a kind of eerie hooting which may be mistaken for the whistling of the wind through the mountains peaks.
These shy dwarf/gnome-like beings live in the mountainous regions of France and Switzerland. Barbegazi live in vast networks of caves and tunnels deep beneath the mountains, most of which are excavated near the summits of the highest peaks of the Alps. The entrances to their cave-dens are tiny openings shielded by curtains of icicles. Here Barbegazi live, happy with their solitary existence and raise their families. Youngling Barbegazi are rambunctious and love to romp about in the snow, playing with snowballs, snowboarding down the mountain on their feet, and generally having fun.
Known as the caretakers of the Mountains, Barbegazi protect the mountain environment from harm. They are generally friendly towards man-kind, and will often help those who are lost and dying of cold in the mountains (providing the person hasn't shown any disrespect to the environment). They also will hoot to warn mountaineers of oncoming avalanches, even though they themselves quite enjoy these, and surf them down the mountainside.
They are rarely seen, and then only in the winter months, when the temperature drops below zero. They never venture below the tree-line. The few specimens who have been trapped by mountaineers (or by the occasional confused Yeti Hunter) and taken down to the Alpine villages, died after only a few hours of captivity.
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