OverviewNOTE: This page was assigned to me after the original creator left SP. I had plans to climb it in fall of 2009, but they fell through. I'm happy to maintain this page and will make it a priority in 2010, but if there is anyone who has actually climbed it and wants to maintain the page, it would be more appropriate for me to pass it on to you. Let me know if there are any takers.
Since the first time I travelled along Highway 200 heading east from Sandpoint, the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho have beckoned to me. That was even before I knew what I was looking at. All I knew was that somewhere north of Sandpoint there were a bunch of mountains that contradicted my perception of this area as having nothing more to offer than a few forested foothills. Later I found out that it was the Selkirks I was looking at. When my wife and I decided I would do school in Spokane, Rich Landers book "100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest" opened my eyes to how much there was to explore near my future home. That summer (2007) on a jaunt to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, one peak in particular stood out as being particularly majestic and beckoned to me even more, though I did not yet know its name. Finally, on June 29, 2009, I not only found out the name of that peak, I got to stand on top of it. That peak is Roman Nose.
It wasn't as if I'd never heard of Roman Nose. I've coveted its lofty summit ever since I read about it in the guidebook. I just didn't realize that the peak I coveted from the guidebook and that which I coveted from Highway 95 were one and the same. Once I stood on the summit, instead of being disappointed by having 2 places I wanted to explore reduced to one, I found myself revelling in a sort of alpine giddiness as I gazed upon an unending supply of future alpine explorations.
Not sure how it got its name. I've been looking online and have found nothing. If you know, please tell. The peak used to serve as a fire lookout from about 1917 until the 1970's. All that remains of the lookout now are the concrete footings, a few boards, some nails, and a little broken glass. Despite the unsightly relics from its lookout years, the peak is still quite pristine. According to Dennis Nichols (Trails of the Wild Selkirks, pg 262), a young man(18 years old) by the name of Randy Langston survived the viscious firestorm that roared across the mountain during the 1967 Sundance Burn by hunkering down under a rock ledge on the summit. Down below in the Pack River Valley, two fellow firefighters were not so fortunate and perished in the conflagration.
Roman Nose, like the vast majority of the peaks in the Selkirks, is composed of granite. Because of the way the landscape was lifted up, the west and south slopes bear a gentle grade, with the east and north aspects being very abrupt. The north face bears about a 250' cliff that leads up to the summit from boulder fields below. According to some sorces, the cliff is seldomly climbed. If you look at the map, you'll see that three ridges come together at the summit. The North and South Ridges form a straight line with each other, with the west face gently sloping down to the Pack River below. From the North Ridge, it is easy terrain to the summit of Bottleneck Peak with views of more lakes. The East Ridge, together with the North Ridge, forms a gorgeous basin which holds three spectacular alpine lakes -- Roman Nose Lakes. About midway along the East Ridge, a spur shoots north, somewhat separating the lower lake from the other two. The lower lake, at 5891' above sea level, is accessible by car. From there, a dandy little trail system leads to the other lakes which are at 5921' and 6194' above sea level.
While the lakes and surrounding meadows and forests are a worthy destination by themselves, the best views in the area are to be had from the summit of Roman Nose. The peak is situated far enough south and east of the Selkirk Crest so as to offer an outstanding panorama of the range. The views down into the Pack River Valley are remarkable as well. Other views include the Cabinet Mountains to the east, the Kootenai River Valley to the northeast, and Lake Pend Oreille to the south. Far to the north one can view distant glaciers clinging to peaks up in the Canadian portion of the range. Looking down the north face (watch your step -- it's a 250' fall otherwise) one can view the gem-like upper and middle Roman Nose Lakes.
The South and East Ridges form a large basin that is still recovering from the Sundance Fire of 1967. The basin looks like the perfect spot to watch for grizzly bears or the even more elusive (and endangered) mountain caribou that inhabit the area.
The area around the lakes is lush with huckleberry bushes, subalpine fir, white pine, and even alpine larch in some places. The huckleberries ripen around August. The larch turn golden in October.
Getting ThereAdd Getting There text here.
Red TapeNo red tape to speak of. The area is part of Kaniksu National Forest. Contact information for the Bonners Ferry Ranger District is below. Their website is not very informative:
Bonners Ferry Ranger District
Rt. 4, Box 4860
Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805
CampingThere is a minimally developed car camping area just before the lower lake. I didn't notice whether there was any registration process involved or whether there are any fees involved. I'll update this page as soon as I contact the Bonners Ferry Ranger District by phone.
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