Coordinates: 48.628N, 116.593W
Trailhead: Roman Nose Lake Trail, No. 165 Trailhead elevation 5,900’
Estimated time: 2.5 – 3 hours
3.5 miles, 1,360’ elevation gain
Roman Nose Lakes are some of the most beautiful and easy to access lakes in the region. The trailhead starts at the lower lake which is tucked into the cirque surrounding the lake. The area is famous for huckleberries in the summer which also means a lot of people.
You cannot see Rose Nose from the lake. It is hidden behind the cirque and climbs another 400-500’ beyond what you can see. Don’t underestimate the lack of elevation gain on this climb since just half of your effort will be on established trails. As you leave the trailhead, it climbs gently to the west and zigzags up the slope to the right. You will pass several interpretive plaques as you ascend. Pay attention as the trail to the upper lakes veers off to the right. If you stay on the main loop trail, you’ll find yourself going in a big circle and heading back down.
Trail 160 descends to the second lake. You do not want to go this direction though it is possible to drop down and follow this lake to the upper lake. This is less direct and will take more time. Remain on the trail heading southwest until you reach the upper lake underneath the summit of Roman Nose. The massive north face is hard to miss. Follow the path around the upper lake to left. The trail will slowly disappear but there is an unmistakable couloir that ascends to a high saddle directly east. This saddle is your objective. If you are early in the season, this will be filled with snow. Later in the season it is nothing more than talus and blocks. Be careful not to exit the lake until you are all the way to the south end. Then, start making your way up about 300-350’ to the saddle. This is the most arduous part of the climb. Alternative Route: Follow the upper lake counterclockwise past the couloir and toward the slopes to the right (west) of the steep face. You can ascent above the trees and into the large blocks or stay in the vegetation. Either way, your objective is to reach the ridge just to the right of the summit. From here it is an easy walk to the summit.
Once you reach the high saddle at about 6,700’ the views of the Selkirk Crest open up to the west, Ruby Ridge runs down to the east, and Roman Nose is directly above you on the ridgeline to the southwest. You will be in a large flat spot with ghostly trees left from the 1967 Sundance Fire. This is a good place to take a break. To reach the summit, the most direct route is up the ridgeline. It may be tempting to drop off to the west and make your way up the large boulders but this is actually more complicated than staying to the ridge. You won’t lose elevation but you will avoid some of the bigger blocks. The ridge leads directly to the summit and the debris from the old lookout. The views from here are some of the best anywhere.
3.0 miles, 1360’ elevation gain
This route climbs immediately above the last pit station at the campground just west of the normal trailhead. It may be a better descent route but it is also a solid way to make the ridge quickly. There is a faint trail that heads immediately up through the woods. You may find some flagging in the trees but don’t depend on it. The objective is the ridgeline above the lake and this is the quickest way to reach it. If you have followed the correct line, you will come to a small indentation in the ridge before it drops off to the east. Turn directly south (right) here until you reach the ridgeline. From here, the going along the ridge simply follows the cirque above the first lake. The lake will be directly below you to the right.
As you ascend the ridgeline you will find a few benches that you will need to negotiate but nothing too difficult. You can skirt most of these by dropping slightly to the east. Stay as close to the ridgeline as possible. Eventually you will reach a high point and Roman Nose will come into view. The views from this ridge (Apache Ridge) are excellent. Once you reach this point, the saddle (see West Couloir description) will be immediately below you about 300 yards but drops 150’. The way is clear from here as you make your way toward the saddle and then remain on the ridgeline above the third lake which will come into view as you reach the saddle.