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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 is slightly more protected, especially in the trees, from the north wind that can rip apart more exposed areas.
This makes it a good place to go if the snow in the resort has been tracked out or wind affected.
Even if the snow isn’t wonderful it is an easily accessible tour that you don’t have to be super fit to tackle – a great introduction to ski touring for experienced skiers.
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.
A helpful hint at this point: make sure you pack two skins in your backpack - doing the whole climb on only one does very odd things to your legs and back, as a certain Serre Chevalier ski instructor once discovered! From the col on the ridge, head down through the open snowfields and allow yourself to be funnelled into the gulley between the trees.
The trees themselves are critical habitat areas for endangered black grouse and are roped off.
These birds have a tough time of it in the winter and skiers are a significant cause of mortality so it's best to respect the roped off areas.
When you get to the bottom of the valley, you can either skin back up to the Rocher Blanc chairlift on a forest track or ski down through the village of Les Combes to Puy Chalvin and a pre-arranged pick up.