After a fairly straightforward route to the summit of Threepoint Mountain it was time to explore. Nugara is pretty sure in his guidebooks that there is "no direct route" from Threepoint over to Mount Rose, it's shorter neighbor to the south. He's right, of course. There is no direct scramble route. But when there's no direct route what do you do? Obviously you scout around a bit and look for an indirect one. :) The thing with Mount Rose is that while it's a nice enough little summit, surrounded by some very nice terrain, it's not really the sort of mountain you want to dedicate a whole day to ascend. Phil and I both remarked more than once that if we didn't get Rose with Threepoint we wouldn't be coming back for it any time soon. From the summit of Threepoint, there were a few obvious gullies to try on the ridge splitting south (skier's left) off the west ridge that Nugara recommends using for an alternate descent. We knew that the long band of cliffs running along this ridge were huge and even overhanging so the odds of these gullies working were slim. We also figured that for sure Nuguara would have tried them - although if he did Threepoint in the winter he may not have bothered.
If the gullies didn't go we were prepared to descend all the way to tree line before crossing a creek and re-ascending Rose. This would involve hundreds of meters of height loss / regain and we weren't that keen on the idea. Clouds were also building and we knew that it could easily be raining in a few hours. We easily descended the west ridge before cutting off to the left towards some obvious gullies. The first gully we checked looked very steep. Low 5th class for sure. Phil went a bit closer for a look, while I checked out the gully slightly further south. At first the gully looked impossible. Then I gave it a closer inspection and it started looking feasible! An even closer inspection made it look dead-easy. Excellent! A short moderate scramble and we were through. "All" that was left now was a long side hill traverse and climb back up to Mount Rose!
[Descending the west ridge beneath Threepoint. You can see the split in the ridge. Nugara's descent route goes right, the traverse to Rose goes left where the red arrow points. We didn't know at this point if it would go. The red arrow probably won't be there when you do it... ++]
[Looking back up at Threepoint]
[The first gully we checked out looked kind of nasty]
[But this one looks pretty easy up close!]
[Looking through the gully at Threepoint (L) and Rose (R). It looks like a long traverse from here.]
[The terrain is loose and steep, but easy scrambling]
[This looks like a wee bit of a grunt! Bluerock is even visible at the right - with fresh snow.]
The long side hill traverse to Rose wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it would be. Don't get me wrong - it sucked, it just sucked less than expected. The scree was reasonably stable compared to the stuff we ascended Threepoint on, and the distance wasn't as much as we thought either. Looking up at the summit block we found ourselves once again wondering if this was going to remain easy / moderate scrambling but we suspected it would be, based on our experience on Threepoint. We were mostly right. We stuck to the ridge and ended up on some moderate / exposed terrain just before the summit. We could have easily avoided this on climber's right but didn't feel like it. It was the most enjoyable scrambling of the day, to be honest. The summit views were a bit cloudier than Threepoint's, but of course similar. I really love the green meadows in this area - I can see why it's heaven for sheep (and cougars!).
[The terrain under the gully is steep and loose]
[Now you know why there's so many fossils here]
[The terrain is pretty cool around the cliff bands. The gully we took is marked with a red arrow - again, it probably won't be there anymore when you do it.]
[Looking back at Threepoint and the ridge / cliffs from part way along the traverse. ++]
[Mount Rose looks a little intimidating as we get nearer.]
[Phil is getting sick of all this darn scree!]
[Looking back at Threepoint with the 'impenetrable' cliff band running along it's west ridge.]
[Looks worse than it is]
[Some delicate balancing]
[Almost at the summit of Rose. We could have chosen easier terrain out of picture to the left but didn't feel like it at this point.]
[Nice summit views from Rose. Bluerock on the left and Threepoint on the right. ++]
[Looking over Mount Ware]
[Bluerock is looking more white today]
After snapping some photos and grabbing some lunch (yes, it was only around noon - you gotta love early starts!) we started the long trek back. We descended the west ridge of Rose to near treeline before cutting down towards the creek, but staying high above it on skier's left to avoid boulder hopping and the rushing water below. I was nervous about conditions in Cougar Creek, but when we finally got there, the creek started out very wide and easy to walk along. Eventually our luck ran out and for the next few kilometers we had to ascend / descend along Cougar Creek on the right (east) side, roughly following an old horse / sheep trail. We even found evidence of a few old camps along the way. The terrain was a bit challenging, but beautiful. We finally managed to get back to our uptrack and followed the GPS back to our river crossing shoes and our bikes. The ride out was fast and fun.
I highly recommend Threepoint and Rose as a combination in the direction we did it (thrashing up Cougar Creek would not be a good way to start your day). The views are great, the terrain is fairly easy and these two mountains should be accessible for a good part of the year, considering their front range locations.
[I love this view from the descent ridge on Rose, looking back to Rose (L) and Bluerock (R) with some great alpine meadows in between. ++]
[Another look at Bluerock from the west ridge of Rose. It is possible to ascend both Rose and Bluerock from the valley on the left - access is via Gorge Creek in the Sheep Provincial Park area of Kananaskis.]
[A great shot of Threepoint's southwest ridge and line of cliff bands that we broke through to get to Rose. ++]
[Phil heads down towards the creek. You can spot a clearing in the trees to the creek lower down - we stayed high on the edge of this clearing and stuck to the ridge all the way down to Cougar Creek which is running in the major valley below.]
[The forest is fairly light here]
[Looking back at the terminus of the SW ridge of Threepoint, with Rose on the upper right.]
[Cougar Creek is lovely]
[An old camp]
[I thought there was writing on the tree, 'til I took a closer look]
[More of Cougar Creek - you can see why we couldn't stay right in the creekbed]
[Now we're high above - this was a theme!]
[Carpets of Ladies Slipper are still out]
[Finally back along the Elbow River]
[One last glance at Threepoint - I believe the bump to the left has a hiking route in Daffern's book.]