Saturday, December 29, 2012

W48-in-1: The Osceola's - 12/28/12

On Friday morning as snow was still flying, I set off on a climb to the Osceola's. I had climbed them twice already in winter. The first time, back in January '11, was the first time I had ever snowshoed. It took me and my brother all day long. The conditions were far more cold and windy that day, but as I tread through almost a foot of fresh untouched powder for nearly 4 miles, I couldn't help but think back to that day, when I first strapped my new MSR Lightning Ascents on. They still perform flawlessly and just like the day I first used them.

As I started the hike, the thick white blanket of snow all over everything in the woods was a sight to see. It was like an entire different world, and I know many winter hikers are just excited as I am. It was snowing and windy to start. Eventually the sun rose and allowed for some clearing at lower elevation.  
Rising sun from Mt. Osceola Trail
A brief view of the sky en route to East Osceola 
Once I hit the slide, I remembered that most of the way is pretty steep from here. As you can see below, the slide had a thin layer of ice, and the snow was blown off it. This area didn't cause any difficulty, but most of the way from here all of the way to Osceola was twice as hard as from the trail head to the slide.
Looking up the slide section 
East Osceola summit, 46th solo 4000-footer 
After bagging East Osceola, I looked forward to the Bypass section. I descended off the backside sliding down the drifts of powdery snow in my snowshoes. When I arrived at the Chimney and Bypass, it was another sight to see. Completely untouched snow filled the area. No one else but me would see it this way today. I started to climb the bypass, and about 5 or so feet up, I definitely slipped and slid back down. Luckily, the rocks aren't too sharp and my snowshoes didn't get caught. I made it fine on the second try, but towards the top, I had to jam my arm into the snow for leverage, and basically crawl up. With all of this snow like this, I could've been somewhere in the middle of the Alaskan backcountry for all I knew. It was tough.
Chimney ahead, Bypass to the right 
Looking up the Bypass

I was getting anxious to get to Osceola, because it meant that I would have it much easier going back. When I arrived, it looked the same as it did on my first time here. I had views once here, but it felt like deja vu. Osceola was the 47th summit I've hiked solo, and I now have only Cannon left to hike solo. Despite it being my 3rd time in winter here, they were new December peaks on my grid. I am approaching 25% completed.
Osceola summit 
My plan for this last week was to go on a rampage bagging 8+ peaks (a tentative Presi Traverse was planned too), but the weather really screwed things up. I was already starting to feel the effects of a head cold before this hike, so when I got back home, my head stuffed up so bad, and I couldn't muster it up to get back out there the following day (today). Planning for this single season thing is not easy. Already, its been affected by this dumping of snow, and threatening of additional storms. I'm already seeing how difficult its going to be. This upcoming week's weather is looking good so far; let's hope it doesn't do anything else, and the trails stay nicely broken out for me! (and this cold goes away)
My snowshoe tracks on the way back

Hike Stats:
Trails: Greeley Ponds Trail, Mt. Osceola Trail
Distance: 7.6 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft.
Actual Book Time: 7:10


  1. Wow! We hiked to the Osceola's last spring. I remember the chimney section was hairy then! Not to mention the 550 ft of reverse elevation on the return to the Osceola summit. Can't imagine it buried in unbroken snow, congrats!

    1. Scott, thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully I'll get to see what it looks like, not in the winter, sometime soon, and you vice versa. The powder and occasional foot and a half drift made it very laborious on the steep sections. (The first approach to the final ridge on East, the Bypass, and then the return to East).

  2. Nice! A partner of mine and I broke out the Osceolas last February or March right after a snowstorm. Lots of fun butt sliding on the way down. Hope you're feeling better soon, 48-in-1 is tough, and feel yucky doesn't help you make your goals!

    1. Thanks a lot Summerset! I've butt-slid Osceola before too. I have a video of it on my YouTube channel. The powder allowed me to almost ski down some of the trail this time, making the hike out a lot faster and much more fun!