Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs, etc) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
This is Serre Chevalier’s most accessible ski tour.
Though outside of the resort’s boundaries, it makes sense to do the Croix d’Aquila starting from the lifts as you get significantly more skiing to climbing than you would if you did it as a pure ski tour.
Predominantly northeast facing, the face holds cold snow well and the tree section is well protected from northerly winds that can rip apart more exposed areas.
This makes the trees, at least, a good place to go if the snow in the resort has been tracked out or wind affected.
However, the summit couloir will pick up any north wind so won’t be any better than other high north facing slopes.
The best way to approach the start of the skinning section is from the top of the Eychauda button lift.
Follow the first half of the Les Combes off piste run, stopping to start the climb near the livestock shed.
The skin up should take around an hour to the second col on the ridge, via the Col de la Trancoulette, and a further 30-40 minutes to the peak.
The main descent is down a steep and exposed couloir that then leads into the trees.
This couloir sees frequent avalanche activity so read the snow conditions well before committing to this line.
If in any doubt, stick to the less exposed lower route.
At the bottom, you’ll end up on the valley floor from where you can skin out back to the Les Combes road and ski down to Puy Chalvin and your pre-arranged transport.
Alternatively, you can skin back up to the Rocher Blanc chairlift along a forest track.