This picture gallery includes a guide to ice and snow climbing on the Northern Side of Mt Osceola in New Hampshire.
Overview Osceola North
The northern side of Mt Osceola has three major slide areas as seen in the Google Earth picture below. This document describes the approach and climbs in the area of the Dog Leg Slide and right side slide.
Dog Leg Slide Area
Steve Golden, Chuck Woodman, Phil Lonergan, and I have done a number of undocumented (probably unclimbed) ice climbs in the Dog Leg Slide Area of Osceola. At this point we've done eight climbs ranging from grade 2 to 4+. The climbs are all high so they come in early and last until late. Avalanche conditions can be an issue in the area.
The approach starts at the East Pond Trail Head and follows the well traveled East Pond Trail for at least 8/10 of a mile where you come to Pine Brook. The way I recommend going in is to cross the brook and continue for another 1/4 mile and follow this route. Using the GPS route is very helpful if there is not a packed out trail which is usually the case.
Note: The coordinates in the route are in UTM (WGS84) format
Dog Leg Slide
Bushwhacking in by keeping Pine Brook on your right may be a better choice if you choose not to use the GPS route.
After following what seems like an old road for a couple hundred yards, the banking above the brook becomes steep. By heading left and up a bit you can find relatively open woods that keeps the brook to your right.
When following this route care is required to keep from following one of the feeder brooks that you must cross to stay on course as the other brooks end up by East Peak of Osceola.
After bushwhacking for about 1 mile you come to the Dog Leg Slide.
Split Cliff Area Climbs
There are ice climbs on both sides of the of the Dog Leg Slide. To reach the most interesting climbs on the left side, hike until just above this ice bulge then take the Split Cliff Gully that heads off left.
Split Cliff Gully
Snow climb this gully until reaching the first steep ice where you can choose a number of options.
Split Cliff Climbs
Split Cliff Gully leads to these three climbs that we've completed at this point:
- Enduro Dads grade 4 -
- The Hydrant grade 4 -
- Captain Jack grade 4 +
Enduro Dads (Steve Golden and Jack Dorsey Jan 17, 2008) Grade 4-.
Enduro Dads heads straight up Split Cliff Gully over this 100 ft pitch that we rated 4-. In addition to The Hydrant and Captain Jack there are two other single pitch options here slightly to the left .
Near the Gully's End
We short roped until we reaching this location in the upper reaches of Split Cliff Gully. At one point an ice dam just above an ice bulge burst drenching me with water.
Fortunately I was able to avoid all but a glancing blow from a table top sized piece of 3 inch ice that exploded from the dam. The explosion and my yell alerted Steve to quickly tightnen up on the rope.
Enduro Dads Upper Technical Pitch
Then we climbed this section of ice until coming to the trees where you can either rap or bushwhack to the Osceola Trail.
We bushwhacked about 1/4 mile to Osceola Trail using the waypoint that is included in the approach coordinates. For the most part the bushwack route maintains the same elevation until you reach the Osceola Trail a bit above it's chimney. From there we followed the Osceola Trail down to the col over East Peak and down to the Greeley Ponds trail that leads to the Kancamagus Highway.
Walking the highway to the East Pond Trailhead to completed our 7 1/2 mile adventure. The Enduro Dads name was the result of not bringing snowshoes for the approach.
The Hydrant Grade 4- (Jack Dorsey and Steve Golden Jan 22 2008)
To reach this climb bushwhack right for a couple hundred ft from below the first steep pitch of Enduro Dads until you enter a slide with a steep ice pitch above. This picture shows the Hydrant route that includes two steep sections. The first 120 foot pitch that is in the 3 +/4- range was my lead.
After the first pitch, its possible to head right up another short ice flow rather than stay in the gully.