Tour des Dents du Midi
Les Dents du Midi are based in Switzerland and can be seen from nearly all of Les Portes du Soleil resorts, particularly the Swiss ones such as Champéry, Champoussin and Les Crosets. We are lucky enough to see them from my parents’ chalet and have witnessed many a stunning sunset as the peaks turn every shade of orange, pink and red.
Dad, almost as proud of his International Mountain Leader Award as I am of my BASI level 4 (!), has completed the tour twice previously, and reached the highest of the ‘dents’, the Haute Cime.
As a warm-up and fitness tester for his summer season of walking, we decided this would be the perfect trip, especially as I hadn’t done it before.
We parked the car in Vérossaz and set off towards Mex. Dad had promised me lunch in Mex, but as it was early season nothing was open. Whoops! Thankfully we had stocked up with a few bits and pieces, particularly Figolu’s, or at least Casino’s version. I can’t think of a walk without these scrummy fig filled soft biscuits. I think I am going to try and recreate them at home!
The path meandered through woods, with a minor detour to avoid being knocked on the head by falling trees as they were lopped down by workmen. From Mex, we started the climb up to Col de Jorat.
It was a fairly steady climb, following the path as it zig-zagged up, listening to Dad as he pointed out all the different types of flowers and distinguished the variations by shoving ‘Alpine’ or ‘Spring’ in the name. For the first time in my life, I was ahead of my old man! It won’t be long though before he finds his mountain goat legs once again, and bounds off, almost skipping up mountains much to everyone’s amazement/disgust.
Reaching the top of the col we were rewarded with a view down to the Auberge de Salanfe, our stop for the night, and out towards Martigny. The mountains were familiar from seasons in Nendaz and Verbier.
We received a warm welcome at the auberge, a nice cold panache and a bag of crisps to keep us ticking over until dinner. I’m not going to lie, Dad and I showered and proceeded to have a good old nap. This auberge is one of the more civilised ones you’ll find when out hiking in the Alps with pretty good facilities.
We were only 5 in the auberge; another gentlemen walking the tour in the opposite direction to us, and two guys who had been training and doing various routes over a couple of days. The auberge is run by a couple, who have also employed a lovely lady from Cambridge. We were served soup, followed by sausage, pasta, broccoli and ice cream for dessert. Embarrassingly, I was the only one who said yes to more, until one of the guys felt he had to keep me company. Classic Rachael.
Stats (according to my Garmin Vivoactive HR)
Moving Time: 4hr 40mins
A good night’s sleep and we awoke to beautiful clear skies.
After breakfast we set off, but not before a quick chat with a marmotte.
We had been warned there was still snow on the trail, and so took the winter route up to col de Susanfe. Had we wanted to summit Haute Cime, we would have needed more kit than just a pair of walking shoes. And maybe some more energy and fitness in the legs. Ahem.
Over the winter trail we still had to negotiate snowy patches, but at least not clamber up a steep and potentially icy and slippy couloir.
Again, we were greeted with some fabulous views.
A steady descent down to the Cabane de Susanfe where I ate the majority of my packed lunch from the auberge at Salanfe. Dad decided to ration his into two lunches. I’ve never been good at pacing myself with food. All or nothing!
We continued on down, surrounded by Mount Ruan and a few glaciers, towards a narrow gorge where the descent turned into more of a clamber. Pointe de Marcelly was spotted through a gap to our surprise (it’s a shape you can’t miss once you know it!), and familiar scenery came into view. The Swiss ski resorts of Les Crossets, Champoussin and Champéry of Les Portes du Soleil sat in the sun as we reached the turning to Bonaveau. From there we contoured our way around the mountains towards Lac d’Antème.
We arrived at the cabane to find a young girl sunbathing with a dog by her side. The owner had gone down to the the valley for appointments. We’re not sure she was entirely expecting to have to provide us with a meal, but with some encouragement she soon rose to the challenge and got us settled into the refuge. We were the only ones!
This refuge is one of the more basic types you’ll find when hiking in the Alps, with mattresses lined up in an annex type room, and a nice refreshing cold shower.
Moving Time: 5hr 17mins
A prompt (ish) start as our goal was to be back at the car in time to head to Monthey for lunch. Obviously! Bread, jam, some tasty honey and tea filled us up ready to wiggle our way round, taking us gradually back down to Vérossaz. Walking downhill is not my favourite and my shoes were beginning to rub, as was my rucksack against my shoulders. As my mother said, I’m such a delicate flower with pathetic skin; need to toughen up!
Despite it being a little murky and waking up to the remains of a thunderstorm overhead, we were still lucky enough to get some lovely views and avoid the rain. It was clear enough to see right down to Lac Léman, over to Villars and Leysin.
Moving Time: 3hr 55mins
We had a lovely plat du jour in Monthey before driving home.
An excellent trip, thank you Dad! We’ll have to go back and do the summit the Haute Cime next time.
**All photographs are taken with an iphone or my Moto G4 (!). Dad packed a proper camera, but no batteries. I forgot a sleeping bag liner and Dad forgot a towel. Total pro’s.**