Dwight Peck's personal website

Les Dents du Midi

Where the Alps begin

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Les Dents du Midi, overlooking the passage of the river Rhône from the Alps to the Med. Seen here from above Les Avants, Les Dents du Midi (the "teeth of noon" or "of the south") dominate the first range of Alps at the far end of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman, under the fog in this photograph from 1981).

The classic scene from Leysin of the Dents du Midi across the valley. At 3257 meters at its highest point (Haute Cime, "High Peak", on the right), it is really part of the Prealps, just before the 4000-meter peaks really get into gear.

Here is a photo (from a broken camera) of the back side of Haute Cime, with a hiker approaching the Cabane du Susanfe at 2102m near the end of the first half of a two-day hike to the summit.

The normal route from this side leaves from the trailhead (1055m) at Champèry in the Val d'Illiez, circles up round the western end of the range through the Pas d'Encel, and pauses for a pleasant evening in the Susanfe hut. The second day continues up to the Col du Susanfe (2494m), behind the hiker's head in this photo, and then leftward up the ridge in the photo above to the "false summit" of the Col des Paresseux and then another 200 vertical meters to the summit. (The hiker in the photo is Prof. Fritz Gaenslen, August 1981.)

The narrator used to run up when in sufficiently good shape to do so, three times in the 1980s, all between 3:06 and 3:15 from Champéry past Susanfe to the summit, never under the magic 3-hour mark, alas.

Way back in 1981: Jane, Alison Peck, Fritz and Kris

Here's the Cabane du Susanfe (2102m) on a stormy evening behind the Dents-du-Midi, 1981. On 2-day hikes with a stopover, some people would prefer to dine in the hut and empty a few beer bottles with companions, and then go outside with a bivvy sack for a good sleep, even in snowstorms, rather than climb into the dortoir {sleeping room} with 86 other hikers at various stages in their snoring and digestive processes.

On the traditional second day, Jane idles whilst hiking companions catch their breaths on the Col du Susanfe (2494m), August 1981.

Most 2-day hikers leave the Susanfe hut early, after a refreshing sleep with 86 other fairly rowdy people at various stages in their digestive processes, and walk up to the Col du Susanfe at 2494m (this is the view from the Col), and then proceed up to the foot of the 2700m-rockband (upper right), then back up left to the "false summit" seen in cloud in this photo. That's the Col des Paresseux (3056m), "the pass of the lazy people", because many hikers, high-fiveingly reaching the false summit and dismayed to find another 200 vertical meters looming above them, decide to go home in a disappointed snit.

Fritz and Kris heading towards the 2700m rockband, with the Col du Susanfe below. The rain's coming in kind of hard now and they're becoming discouraged. August 1981.

A break in the rain: this is a look upward from the top of the 2700m rockband up the slag towards the Col des Paresseux. The hiking path appears and disappears in the mud, depending upon who has been there last. Haute Cime, the highest peak of Dents du Midi at 3257m, is the only one of its five summits that is accessible to hikers, without specialized equipment.

Sorry about the 1981 camera problem; we took it to Tunisia with us, and then threw it away.

Jane in Rain near the Col des Paresseux

Jane at the summit in awkward weather, August 1981

Marlowe's mother, before Marlowe had arrived to delight and torment us, leaving the summit of Haute Cime on a stormy day in 1981.

Some years later, the narrator (foreground) assisted a crowd of high school boys to the Dents du Midi, carrying all their lunches, hats, gloves and extra sweaters for them. This is a scan from the high school yearbook, 1992.

Rainsoaked Amy and the narrator, en route to the Dents du Midi in November 1992, share their satisfaction at being able to pass through the Pas d'Encel before winter closes in utterly.

In November 1992, on the Col du Susanfe (2494m), Carmen peeks out from under a hatbrim better drawn down against the wind.

From the Champèry side, the crux of Dents du Midi in bad weather is not the summit, but the Pas d'Encel leading around the end of the range from the steep-sided valley of Bonavau and up into the Susanfe area behind the mountain. In winter, the Pas d'Encel is best left to the pros.

Amy and Dwight share a chilly moment at the Col du Susanfe, with the Lac de Salanfe below, overlooking the valley of the Rhône towards Martigny.

Carmen descending through the Pas d'Encel (right), November 1992

. . . and, wisely, hanging onto the chain thoughtfully provided by the Tourist Office.

Amy, too, finds a way through this bunch of steepness.

Get ready. Get set. Leap!

In 1992, below the Pas d'Encel, Amy and Carmen take the better part of valor and descend backwards.

The back of Dents du Midi (horizon, right) seen from Dent de Morcles on the far side of the valley of the river Rhône.

The postcard.

Dents du Midi and moon from the narrator's home in Bassins, near Geneva, 6 October 2003

Les Dents du Midi from Leysin village, January 2005

Les Dents du Midi looming among clouds, seen from near the Cornettes de Bise, September 2002

From Mont de Bière in the Jura

Dents du Midi from Ollon, June 2007

Les Dents du Midi, from our backyard in Ollon, April 2016

Les Dents du Midi from the south side, at the Col de la Golette, 15 July 2007 (More views from that side, here.)

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 March 2002, revised 16 June 2008, 8 March 2017.

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