From a certain angle, the imposing mountain does resemble a “white tooth” — the translation of its French name. From almost any angle, it looks rather unapproachable, unclimbable, with steep white slopes piercing through the cloudtops. But where others saw only impossibility, T. S. Kennedy saw opportunity. He had before attempted (unsuccessfully) to climb the nearby unconquered Matterhorn. Compared to that, the Dent Blanche promised to be easy.
On this day, July 18, in 1862 Kennedy reached the peak of Dent Blanche, accomplishing an ascent of one of the highest mountains in all of Europe. He climbed up the easier southern ridge of the mountain, but not long after another intrepid climber tied to go up on the northern one.
John Stafford Anderson and George Baker tried the northern ridge with guides Alois Pollinger and Ulrich Almer, taking 12 hours to go up 4,300 feet of treacherous terrain and unpredictable elements. The first comment after reaching the top was Almer’s: Wir sind vier Esel (we are four asses), and so it came to be that the northern ridge of Dent Blanche was named in German Viereselsgrat – “Ridge of the Four Asses.”