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Tête Chevalière from the Combeau valley, Vercors

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To the south of the Vercors massif, the route climbs up the magnificent Combeau valley to the edge of the great depression overlooking the Chichilianne valley to the east, and gradually climbs up to the Tête Chevalière. The main attraction here is the incredible panoramic view of Mont Aiguille, which rises like a gigantic tooth from its own imposing base. The geological divide between the grassy plateau and the plain reveals finely sculpted, aesthetically pleasing canyons. In the distance, to complete the spectacle, the mineral peaks of Dévoluy and even further away the Écrins massif. And as we approach, many plump marmots return to their burrows. The loop via the Pas de la Chèvrerie is not compulsory, but allows you to extend the view and get a little closer to Mont Aiguille.

Au bord de la dépression, vue sur le Mont Aiguille

Technical summary

Departure point: Combeau valley, Treschenu-Creyers, Vercors, Drôme (26)
Type of route: mid-mountain loop hike
Distance: 13.5 km
Cumulative elevation gain: +650 m
Cumulative negative altitude gain: -650 m
Estimated total time: 3h30 to 4h30
■ Min and max altitude: 1460 m / 1951 m
Beaconing:
Equipment in place: none
Equipment required: GPS track useful for return loop

Difficulty:

Access to the place

South of Die, in the direction of Gap, take the D539 up to Grenoble via the Col de Ménée. Before reaching the pass, at Treschenu-Creyers, turn towards Bénevise and follow the small road upwards to enter the narrow, steep Combeau valley between the Cirque d'Archiane and the Rocher de Combeau. Higher up, the valley widens and you end up in the mountain pastures, parking at the final parking lot after the Grange de Rachier. We're at around 1460m altitude.

Itinerary description

Course

The route forms a large loop. The ascent from the Pas de l'Essaure to the summit follows an unmarked but well-marked path. The section behind the Tête Chevalière is off-piste but not really difficult, as it's fairly straightforward except for the climb back up to the Pas de la Chèvrerie, which requires a little orientation. The rest of the trail is marked and cairned.

Part 1: ascent of Tête Chevalière

From the parking lot, take the path alongside the metal cattle barriers and climb up to catch up with the track a little further up. Follow this stabilized track as it winds through the upper valley to pass the Bergerie de Combeau. From here, continue on the slightly right-hand path and soon reach the Essaure hut.

From the hut, turn right to cross the valley and reach the Pas de l'Essaure, which marks the edge of the valley with the depression on the northeast side. From here, follow the small, clearly visible path that skirts the edge of the hollow more or less closely. You soon get your first view of Mont Aiguille. Climb steadily and at the upper level the panorama is even more impressive. There are wonderful plunging views of the sculpted canyon below us. From here on, it's all very spectacular, as the route literally skirts the geological fracture between undulating grassy carpet and chiselled mineral depression. The trail then climbs up to the Tête Chevalière, with gentle undulations and an increasingly impressive view of the approaching Mont Aiguille.
Part 2: Tête Chevalière to Pas de la Chèvrerie

From the summit, descend to join the rightmost ridge, which runs almost northerly, leaving the flatter ridge with large cairns running westerly (unless you want to avoid this part). There's no trail left, but once you're on the ridge, it's easy to find your way between pebbles and shrubs. It descends quite steeply to land below on a small plateau with bits of forest and clearings. Here too, we follow the edge of the depression, gradually blocking off to the west and finally heading due south on a clearly visible path that leads to the Chaumailloux refuge. Further on, before reaching the Tête des Baumiers and a torrent, head back up into the woods, still off-trail, to aim for the Pas de la Chèvrerie (GPS orientation may prove useful).
Part 3: return to the parking lot via the Plaine de Chamousset

Back on the main path from the refuge de Chaumailloux, this time heading south. We enter a basin that we cross to pass in front of the Chamousset sheepfold. At the end of the basin, you'll find the Combeau valley, which you'll have to descend gently to the Cabane de l'Essaure, the end of the loop. Follow the same path in the opposite direction back to the parking lot.

Map & topo

The off-trail route between Tête Chevalière and Pas de la Chèvrerie is marked out as a guide.

Voir en plein écran

Photos

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