Dwight Peck's personal website
"other side" of the Dents du Midi
2007, Kristin's visiting, and we're looking for a venue with nice quiet mountain
views in the twilight hours.
to the Col de Susanfe
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.
got nicely installed in the auberge at the Lac de Salanfe
and got through a considerable amount of conviviality over dinner, and now it's
time to set off on a hike.
the next morning, and the Col du Susanfe (the tiny
snow patch at the low point on the horizon) beckons. Up on the right, the Haute
Cime ("highest peak", 3257m) presides, the only hikable summit on the
Dents du Midi chain. The snowy step leftward below the summit is the Col des Paresseux
(3056m), the 'pass of the lazy people' -- as hikers clamber up the 500 metres
from the Col du Susanfe, Paresseux appears to them to be the grand summit, but
it's not. When they reach the col, they gaze up at the real summit, the Haute
Cime 200 metres still higher, and the lazy ones bag it at that point. Usually
explaining that they'd love to continue, but old football injuries are preventing
risk a glance back at the auberge de Salanfe, where it might be nice to sprawl
out on the balcony with a big Victorian novel at this point.
Col de Susanfe plays hide-and-seek as we prepare to leave the lake and wander
upward hoping that this will go much more easily than it looks like it will.
Haute Cime's southeastern side, with the Col des Paresseux on the left.
along the Dents du Midi from the end of the lake. I'll name them a little later,
with a more panoramic photo. There's at least one refuge up there near the glaciers,
but damned if I can see it from below. (Philippe
Noth's close-up of the refuge)
last look back at the auberge de Salanfe as we leave the lake level, 14 July 2007
following Dr Pirri up a likely trail-like thing on the hillside, but we have to
wait a bit as he takes a few important telephone calls.
Pirri, blowing on his short alpenhorn to summon the stragglers
Pirri following trail signs into some extremely improbable countryside
is where it becomes apparent that the trail is, unfortunately, going to go straight
up through those cliffs to the col de Susanfe. The narrator's aging memory had
suppressed this part of it somehow.
Pirri, having forgotten to bring along his ski pole, wobbles upward.
nothing for it but to stumble along behind Dr Pirri and hope that he knows where
Pirri searching out water in an arid land, favoring his broken wrist
path to the Col de Susanfe winds up through a good deal of interesting landscape
. . .
. . and the most interesting parts have chains laid on for safety's sake.
out of the cliffs, Dr Pirri pours on the coals to beat us to the Col de Susanfe.
last stretch up scree to the Col de Susanfe, with some fatties lunching at a little
one-person survival refuge built into the side of the hill.
narrator exults at the Col de Susanfe, 26 years after his first sojourn at this
site, glad to be back.
Haute Cime (3257m, 10,688 feet) in the centre, the Col des Paresseux (3056m) in
the foreground, from the Col de Susanfe (2494m)
the far (west) side of the Col de Susanfe, a view of the Cabane de Susanfe (2102m)
-- this is the first day's destination in the normal hike up from Champéry,
before carrying on to the summit on the second day. Ice blocks cascade down all
night from the glaciers up on the left.
in a bit, so that you can see the cabane itsownself. Irritated one night in the
early 1980s by all the unpleasant noises in the dortoir, the narrator took a bivvy
sac out onto the hillside above the cabane in a heavy snowstorm and had a much
better night of it.
super-Fuji-zoom focus on the Cabane de Susanfe for those who couldn't make it
out in the previous photo. The loo's down to the left. The two little buildings
to the right weren't there the last time I visited, so I can't help you there.
Pirri nurses his broken wrist and holds up the trail sign with the other arm.
L'Eglise end of the Tour Sallière
glance back down at the lake. The Col de la Golette, tomorrow's walk, is the col
up on the center right.
you're going to the summit, this is
The Way Up! The trail,
such as it is, leads out rightward up through the "2700m rockband" on
the horizon, then back leftward over awful muddy stuff and up to the Col des Paresseux,
thence to the summit. The "trail", at that point, consists largely of
wherever the party in front of you walked. The group lunching on the col had brought
a baby with them who was pleased as punch to be here.
we lunch at the col, two girls and a guy head downward below us.
people preparing to glissade a ways
party of hikers preparing to descend towards Susanfe
modern hiker using his hiking time well by moving his investments around with
his little telephone
Pirri in a rare contemplative mood; don't alarm him.
is over, and Dr Pirri is joining the party with the baby in descending towards
the tiny refuge at the top of the cliffs.
Pirri, having a good knee-day, is gaining ground and losing height on us.
party is picking its way down above us as we head back to the auberge.
Pirri is still ahead of us but we're catching up with him now (because he took
time for a little nap by the trailside).
hotel at Salanfe, with its half-litre chopes de bière out on the terrace,
beckons to us.
the lake with a chope de bière clasped firmly.
(The flags are those
of the Swiss Confederation and the canton of Valais.)
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 4 August 2007, revised 3 November 2013.