Monday, January 16, 2012

Mt. Osceola, East Peak & Mt. Osceola 1/14/12

It was another frigid adventure yesterday, this time back to where my 2011 Quest for NHs 48 all started for me about exactly a year ago on the Osceola's. I joined my friend Mike for this one, as we did some peakbagging shenanigans. He is working on the 48, and oddly, it was his 31st and 32nd on round 1 while this was number 31 and 32 on my second round, and my 38th Trailwright.

We started up the Greeley Ponds Trail and it was a pleasant 1.3 mile stroll to the junction. The powdery snow snow was trampled from a couple of groups before us, but not packed solid. It was still nice walking, until my foot slipped off of a two plank bridge and I was in up over my thigh. That was pretty funny, and then it turned into an adventure. (I have this on video, its hilarious, I'll post it later)
Greeley Pond Trail
At the junction we could see the East Peak above which was impressive. At this point, I was already enjoying it because last time, it was snowing all day, and I couldn't see anything at all, just a steep trail. Now on the Mt. Osceola Trail, the trail steepened after leaving the open woods. Microspikes and our ice axes were doing the trick as we continued to climb. The powdery snow made it tough in some areas to climb without hand support.
East Peak from the junction
We encountered an older couple having a tough time at the open slide area. We assisted them from that area to the outlook near the summit. While Mike and I second guessed giving them assistance, we went along with them, offering assistance based on both of their willingness to continue. We were concerned about them going down, but I said to Mike, "we're all out here hiking our own hike, and you and I are prepared with the equipment we need." The gentleman had poles and yaktrax, and the woman had yaktrax and no poles.

Almost to East Peak from the viewpoint
We left them at the outlook after taking in the view together. I'm glad they got to experience the great view before heading back. I was excited to be able to see from the outlook this time. Osceola has some great views while ascending. We then made it to the rather view-less summit though, of East Peak. Another hiker was on his down from there. As we started to walk away, I said to Mike, "there's enough people out here, we can't worry about them, let's go". We carried on, and the chimney awaited.
#31 Round 1

#31 Round 2
Once there, I don't think there was any other option. The bypass looked way too easy, so the crampons went on with rather quickness and I was ready for the chimney. As I approached it, I sunk up to my hips in the snow. When I got to it, I tried going to the left, and getting enough grip to swing my body up over the first wall of ice, but I then went to the right, and used the tree to help me get over that section. I left my sure hold on the tree, and for about 30 seconds I was on my crampon points and my ice axe hold, leaning my body against the ice. I swung my ice axe a little left on the above ice and shifted left twice quickly, and the tough part was over. (I have to describe, it since Mike somehow didn't have the video working, even though I pressed record, otherwise you would simply watch me climb it) After the visible ice, it climbs another 15-20 feet or so through deep drifted snow. Here I still had to be extremely cautious with each step. I reached the top successfully, and it was a freakin' blast.
Mike followed suit, but he skipped the powdery snow section and came out just above the ice. We continued on, through the winter wonderland. We finally came to the summit, and before we came out of the trees, it looked like we had reached the gates of heaven. We popped out onto the summit to amazing views which I had not seen from here before. The Trips look mighty impressive, and Washington looks as just good from anywhere. A steady wind with chills down to -20 left us not hanging around too long, but the beaming sun and views were such a great reward for the steep effort.
About to get a great view from Osceola
A sweet view and a steep ledge
Mike celebrates #32 with some sort of ice axe pose
A couple of other favorites from this trip...
Mt. Washington in the distance
The beautiful Pemi
Now began the descent which was one of the best butt-sliding descents ever.

Hike Stats
Trails: Greeley Ponds Trail, Mt. Osceola Trail
Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft
Book Time: 6hrs 40min


  1. Awesome pictures. I remember that final approach to the ledges on that "tunnel to heaven".
    Sometimes you have to brave some tough whether for great views. Nice job.

  2. Nice post dude, i could of swarn that video was working... what a bummer! i guess that means we need to go and do it again!!!!!!

  3. Yeah it was cold, but with all of the fun and excitement we certainly enjoyed it. It's ok Mike, not sure what happened, it wasn't on the camera, but I made up for that yesterday! Yes, my brother's friend Sean needs the Osceola's, so there's a good reason.