The 7 jagged peaks of the Dents du Midi mountain range dominate the Illiez and the Rhone valleys; clearly visible from the shores of Lake Geneva, standing.
Adventurous mountaineers and hikers can circumnavigate the iconic mountain range in two, three or four days, enjoying the stark contrasts in landscape between the glacial peaks and the verdant alpine meadows. Find out more about the Tour des Dents du Midi at www.dentsdumidi.ch.
The Dents du Midi (the teeth of the south) were originally called the Dents du Tsallen. It was only at the end of the 19th century that their present name was officialised.
Over the centuries, the fragile limestone summits have undergone considerable changes in topography as well. It is probable that the Éperon, for example, originally had two summits, but a rockfall in the Middle Ages eliminated one of them. The hot summers of recent years are increasing the number of rockfalls as the ice that cements the friable limestone in place melts.
In the early morning hours of October 30th 2006, a massive chunk of 1 million cubic metres of rock detatched off the side of the Haute Cime, crashing nearly 300 metres down the mountainside. Fortunately, the nearby village of Val-d'Illiez was not threatened by this rockfall, but the surrounding roads, footpaths and trails were closed as a precautionary measure. According to the cantonal geologist, the fall was caused melting permafrost.
The seven 'Dents' have been known by many other names by past generations.
Cime de l'Est
The Cime de l'Est was known as the Mont de Novierre up to the middle of the 17th century. Following the rockfalls in 1635 and 1636 it was called Mont Saint Michel and then the Dent Noire until the 19th century.
La Dent Jaune
The Dent Jaune was known as the Dent Rouge as late as 1879.
The Doigt de Champéry (1882) and the Doigt de Salanfe (1886) later became, simply, Les Doigts.
La Haute Cime
The highest of the 7 peaks, the Haute Cime has also been know by many names. The Dent de l'Ouest (1874), Dent du Midi, Dent de Tsallen et Dent de Challent.
Plusieurs ruptures dans le massif changèrent la forme des dents si bien que les noms s'adaptèrent en fonction de l'évolution géologique. On suppose que l'Éperon comportait deux sommets mais qu'un éboulement au Moyen Âge changea de manière significative sa crête.