Osceolas For A Complete Set, 4/19/2014


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Well-known member
Jul 18, 2005
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Nashua, NH
April 19, 2014: The Osceolas

Trails: Greeley Pond Trail, Mt. Osceola Trail

Summits: Osceola East Peak, Osceola

Hikers: Trail Trotter (Sue) and me

The latest report on the area from a day earlier indicated we should be prepared with light traction and snowshoes. There was plenty of snow and if the conditions were warm we would most likely need snowshoes to avoid postholing.

We arrived to the trailhead lot for Greeley Ponds Trail and found it empty. By the time we were ready to get started, several other vehicles pulled in. We weren’t first on the trail but there were others following.

We left the trailhead on light traction and stayed with it for the full hike. The initial hike along Greeley Ponds Trail to Mt. Osceola Trail is mild terrain, the crossing along the way is open but easy to cross and stay dry; it’s generally a good warm-up for the day. We arrived to the junction with Mt. Osceola Trail, went right, and started the climb.

The climb is easy at first but very soon after leaving the trail junction the trail gets very steep as it climbs along the East Osceola Slide. There are patches of ice along the climb and we needed to work the left or right sides of the trail in order to have secure footing. Crampons might have been a better choice but the MICROSpikes did the job. We worked our way up the various steep sections leading to the slide crossing. Once in the open on the slide we stopped to enjoy a little sun and some views.

Our break was brief because of the wind. Standing around for an extended period would require an extra layer. We continued across the slide and up. The upper section is steeper than everything we had climbed so far but it’s also a short section. After a couple turns we were able to see the ridge and the sky beyond. Soon we were working our way past the final ice at the ridge. All the way up I was making mental notes on areas to avoid on the descent; that was going to be the interesting part of the day.

Once we hit the ridge we made a quick visit to the viewpoint before continuing on to East Osceola. There was a short additional climb to the summit but it is nothing like the climb along the slide. We arrived to the East Osceola summit, got a couple summit pictures, and continued on to the main peak.

Leaving East Osceola, the trail descends to the col between the peaks. The trail is in pretty good shape, solid, little ice, but an obvious monorail exists. Stay on the monorail and everything is okay. We reached the col and the next piece of entertainment was in front of us.

We were at the base of The Chimney. Off to the right was the bypass and it appeared pretty clear. That became a mental note for our return. With very little hesitation we continued straight ahead and started up The Chimney. I don’t think there were any recent tracks that we were following. It was just a matter of habit; see The Chimney, climb The Chimney. We climbed The Chimney.

When we reached the top I pointed out to Sue this trip gave us a full set. We have previously climbed The Chimney quite a few times. We have been up on bare boots. We have climbed it on crampons. A couple trips were made up The Chimney on our MSR snowshoes. This trip was our first on light traction; the MICROSpikes worked well. I’d say that’s a full set.

We paused for a few minutes at the top of the chimney to enjoy the views and were soon on the final section to Osceola main peak. The portion between The Chimney and the summit includes several short steep pitches, mostly hard packed snow and very little ice. We ran into some ice on the final approach to the summit, especially toward the top. That ice was no place for MICROSpikes. We worked the edges and managed to reach the summit without a problem.

After the usual summit and view pictures we made the u-turn and headed back out the way we hiked in. On our way past The Chimney we went with the bypass and I think we agreed climbing The Chimney is easier than negotiating the bypass. We reached the bottom of The Chimney, Sue stopped to make a small snowman on the lower part of The Chimney, and we were off for East Osceola, and then the steep descent.

After making our way over East Osceola and down to the steep trail leaving the ridge we slowed things down a lot. Descending to the slide crossing had sections of ice that needed caution. We got past all of it and managed to stay upright. A short break was waiting for us when we crossed the slide and then back into the steep descent. More ice, more working the edges of the trail, but still we stayed upright. I was a little surprised by this because even though the underlying trail was very solid there was a layer of soft surface snow that was generally greater than the depth of the MICROSpikes. We focused on the trail surface, avoided the patches of ice, and found good foot placements all the way down. Eventually the steepness of the descent eased up and we were able to just walk. Soon we were back to the junction with Greeley Ponds Trail.

We made the turn and completed the 1.3 mile cruise to the trailhead. Even though the steep descent slowed progress and cost extra time, we arrived back to the trailhead on plan for the day.

I’ve posted some pictures from the day.

BIGEarl's Pictures

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