Dents du Midi

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Dents du Midi
Haute Cime
Aigle - Dents du Midi.jpg
The Dents du Midi from Aigle. Click on image for annotations.
Highest point
Elevation3,257 m (10,686 ft)
Prominence1,796 m (5,892 ft) [1]
Isolation19.0 km (11.8 mi) [2]
Parent peakMont Blanc
Coordinates46°09′39.6″N 6°55′24.3″E / 46.161000°N 6.923417°E / 46.161000; 6.923417Coordinates: 46°09′39.6″N 6°55′24.3″E / 46.161000°N 6.923417°E / 46.161000; 6.923417
Dents du Midi is located in Switzerland
Dents du Midi
Dents du Midi
Location in Switzerland
LocationValais, Switzerland
Parent rangeChablais Alps
Mountain typelimestone
First ascent1784

The Dents du Midi (French: "teeth of the south")[3] are a multi-summited mountain situated in the Chablais Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais. They are composed of seven distinct summits and reach a height of 3257 metres (10,686 feet). Highest mountain between Lake Geneva and the Mont Blanc Massif, they dominate the Val-d'Illiez and the Rhône Valley, from Martigny down to the lake. Together with the slightly lower Tour Sallière, they form a cirque around the Lac de Salanfe, an artificial reservoir. Geologically it makes up a part of the massif Haut-Giffre.

The seven peaks[edit]

Map of the Dents du Midi
Six peaks of the Dents du Midi as seen from the seventh and highest one (the Haute Cime, 3257 m)

The "Dents", or "Teeth" are, from east to west:

  • La Cime de l'Est (3178 metres, 10,426.51 feet)
  • La Forteresse (3164 m, 10,380.58 ft)
  • La Cathédrale (3160 m, 10,367.45 ft)
  • L'Éperon (3114 m, 10,216.54 ft)
  • Dent Jaune (3186 m, 10,452.76 ft)
  • Les Doigts (3205 m, 10,515.09 ft and 3210 m, 10,531.50 ft) or Doigts de Salanfe
  • La Haute Cime (3257 m, 10,685.70 ft)



On the morning of 30 October 2006, a mass of 1,000,000 cubic metres (35,000,000 cu ft) of rocks detached themselves from the side of the Haute Cime and fell down the side to an altitude of about 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The event did not pose any danger for the nearby town of Val-d'Illiez but roads and footpaths were closed as a security measure. According to the geologists of the canton, the landslide was caused by thawing, assisted by the hot summers of the preceding years.[4]
Shortly after midday on Friday 17 August 2012, another significant rockfall occurred below the Cathédrale, amounting to at least 100,000m³ of rock. Twelve hikers were rescued by helicopter. All were unscathed, as was a flock of sheep grazing nearby. Again, the fall was put down to exceptional heat locally.[5] Less serious falls continued over the next few days and hiking trails remained closed.[6]

Origin of the name[edit]

The Dents du Midi from the south, with the Cime de l'Est on the right

The name "Dents du Midi" is of relatively recent origin, referring to the time of day at which the sun reaches a certain point.[3] The native inhabitants originally called them the "Dents de Tsallen" ("teeth of Tsallen"). The present Haute Cime was then called Dent du Midi, and it eventually gave its name to the entire mountain.[7]

Each peak, or "tooth", has had several names over the centuries:

  • La Cime de l'Est (Summit of the East) was called Mont de Novierre before approximately the seventeenth century, then Mont Saint Michel after the landslides of 1635 and 1636, and finally Dent Noire (Black Tooth) till the 19th century.
  • Dent Jaune (The Yellow Tooth) was called the Dent Rouge (Red Tooth) until 1879.
  • Les Doigts (The Fingers) were called Le Doigt de Champéry (The Finger of Champéry, 1882) then Le Doigt de Salanfe (The Finger of Salanfe, 1886) before finally just Les Doigts.
  • La Haute Cime (The High Summit) also had several names: Dent de l’Ouest (Tooth of the West, 1784), Dent du Midi (Tooth of Noon), Dent de Tsallen (Tooth of Tsallen), and Dent de Challent (Tooth of Challent).


Several ruptures in the massif have changed the form of the peaks so much that the names adapted themselves according to the geological evolution. L’Éperon (The Spur), for example, no longer has two summits, since a landslide in the Middle Ages significantly changed this peak.

First ascents[edit]

The Dents du Midi display their north wall prominently from Lake Geneva (here at Chillon Castle)
Name of peak Date of first ascent[8] Climber(s)
Cime de l'Est 16 August 1842 Nicolaz Delez
Forteresse 7 June 1870 E. Javelle and J. Oberhauser
La Cathédrale 1890 Nicolas Delez
L'Éperon ? ?
La Dent Jaune 24 August 1879 ?
Les Doigts ? ?
La Haute Cime 1784[9] Jean-Maurice Clément

See also[edit]

Dent du Midi, (3 x 4.5 inches), c. 1880, by Helga von Cramm.


  1. ^ Retrieved from the Swisstopo topographic maps. The key col is the Col des Montets (1,461 m).
  2. ^ Retrieved from Google Earth. The nearest point of higher elevation is north of the Aiguille du Génépi (Mont Blanc massif).
  3. ^ a b "Names - Swiss Mountains". Swissinfo. Swiss Confederation. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-11-26.

External links[edit]