Summit Elevation (m): 2515
Trip Date: June 13 2015
Elevation Gain (m): 1500
Round Trip Time (hr): 10.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 31
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: Distance and time is for Threepoint and Rose. Only difficulties are route finding and the large gains and distances involved. Mount Rose has some avoidable exposure near its summit.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps
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 Nugara 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.
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).
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 up-track 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.