Dent Blanche

~ Thursday 21st July 2016

The Dent Blanche is the emblem of the Val d'Hérens, Evolene's Matterhorn. At 4357m it dominates the view from the village. I'd been thinking (to myself) about trying to climb it in a day from the valley...then I carelessly mentioned the idea at dinner with friends. Unfortunately 1 of them is an ultra-running type. Predictably, he thought it was a good idea so more wine was drunk, and a plan made.

Next day, while in the Coop stocking up on biscuits to fuel the ascent I saw Kilian Jornet doing his shopping - it turned out he'd just been up the Dent Blanche, and had the nerve to Facebook about an "easy day". Well, we'd see...

2am in the Ferpecle carpark, time to finish our coffees and start walking. The Dent Blanche hut approach is famously long, an energy-sapping climb if tackled in the afternoon sun. Happily, in the cool early hours with a stunning full moon lighting the way the climb passed fairly painlessly.

We saw headtorches leave the still-distant hut as dawn broke over the Dent d'Hérens, and some time later we flopped onto the hut terrace for a quick break.

We'd now got most of the walking behind us - the climbing starts right behind the hut. Dry rock, then well-frozen snow lead up to 4000m where the trickier climbing starts. I'd been hoping the ultra-runner might slow down when we got to the climbing, but he had a mis-spent youth as a pretty handy rock-climber so sadly there was no change in pace!

By now we'd caught a few people but the mountain was quiet, with only half a dozen teams.

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