After scrambling Drywood Mountain I only had 1 Nugara scramble left in the Castle Wilderness, namely Mount Roche, or Spread Eagle Mountain. I couldn't find any other trip reports of anyone taking Andrew's ascent route but I thought it sounded fun and would be worth a try. His dire warnings about not being able to down climb it were a bit ominous though. ;-)
The day started out with a nice drive from my parking / camping area near the Pincher Ridge trailhead. I got a great sunrise photo of Spread Eagle Mountain and Mount Yarrow from the road. I parked where Nugara indicates and followed the cow trail up the east end of Spionkop Ridge where the trees fade out and the hiking is more open. Following Nugara's directions I came to the scrambling sections soon enough.
[On my drive to Roche I took this shot of the southern Castle Peaks. ++]
[Panorama of Yarrow and Roche from the drive. The route goes from center to left following the ridge over two obvious bumps. ++]
[One more sunrise shot from the approach drive. ++]
[The approach trail is usually pretty obvious. Roche at upper left.]
[Where it needs to be, the trail is obvious.]
[Nice early morning views, looking back at my approach. ++]
[Looking ahead at the ridge. Loaf Mountain it's long NE ridge at right. ++]
[More great early morning views of the task ahead (L) with Loaf Mountain just right of center in the far distance. ++]
[Getting closer to serious looking terrain.]
The weather was once again gorgeous - no wind and dry rock. Smoky views were once again part of the day but I'll take it over wind! The scrambling on Spread Eagle is excellent for the most part. There were some moments of consternation where I wondered if I was going to be able to find weaknesses, but if you're an experienced Rockies scrambler there are weaknesses were Nugara says there are.
[Typical terrain once the scrambling starts.]
[Looking down a step I climbed to get up a small cliff band - this isn't the crux yet.]
I found the crux to be less exposed than I was expecting - I think with dry rock conditions it could be down climbed but you need long legs to do a stem move off the wall in order to do it. I compared it to Hawk Mountain's (Jasper) crux but unfortunately there's no obvious bypass on this one.
[The crux is out of sight to the right here - avoiding the terrain above me in this shot for obvious reasons.]
[Looking along the ledge that leads to the crux crack with is visible left of center here. Not the sort of terrain you want to slip or fall from!]
The terrain after the crux was a bit of a surprise since Nugara basically says " pick your way up" after the crux. I expected pretty tame terrain but it was continuous low-difficult scrambling with route finding all the way to the summit after the crux. Nothing too hard but I wasn't expecting it. The rock was great and so were the views so I wasn't complaining.
[I was surprised to see this after climbing through the crux - it didn't look quite as easy as I was expecting. I went left around the bump on the ridge at upper left here.]
[A bit closer to the cliff band from the previous photo - I'll go left around the first rocky bump here on exposed terrain.]
[Looking back off the first section of the left hand traverse above the crux.]
[More views back from the traverse above the crux - it was blocky terrain and quite short, but fun! ++]
[Back on easy terrain and heading to the apex of Roche, back across to climber's right now. ++]
[Looking down at the top of the section I bypassed on climber's left. I'm still not sure if this was the correct way to go...]
[View west from the summit. Loaf Mountain on the right. Glendowan, Newman, Spionkop Ridge and Sage from R to L. ++]
[View to the west and north over the long ridge of Loaf Mountain which is at left of center. Spionkop Ridge just left of Loaf and Sage Mountain at far left. Drywood Mountain is just peeking over Loaf Ridge at right. ++]
[Panorama including the road that I walked out on. It's tempting to descend this slope but you have to contour around the high point on the left first. ++]
[Looking east over my ascent route]
[On the edge of the Rockies!]
[Beautiful views east over Blind Canyon and out to the prairies beyond.]
After reaching the summit I spent some time snacking and taking in the great views - especially west into Waterton and north to Loaf Mountain. When I was ready to continue, I began the traverse over to Mount Yarrow.