Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Osceola Slides: 3/16/20

Mark Klim and I took advantage of spectacular weather and solid snowpack to visit two of the prominent slides on the north face of Mt. Osceola. (Long post.) Stay well, everyone!

Our snowshoes were barely denting the surface of the snowpack, making for easy off-trail travel.

Slingshot beech.


Typical crevassing of a small brook in late winter.

The brook on the left flows down from a large basin on the north side of East Osceola.

The main branch of Pine Brook is scoured out more than a mile downstream from the upper section of the Dogleg Slide.

For a short distance the brook was buried in snow and ice, providing an easy route up the valley.

A towering white pine overlooks its eponymous brook.

Large blowdowns block the way.

Time for a detour into scrappy woods along the bank.

 Glimpse of a slide far up the valley.

Back and forth across the brook we go.

Looking back to the cliffs of West Huntington.

This massive rock is a landmark along the way.

The brook flows over a series of cascades.

From here, as far as we could see, the brook was gullied and would be tedious to negotiate. Back into the trees.

Farther along, we returned to the brook where it had transformed into a wonderful packed snow highway. Cliffs on a spur of Middle Osceola loom ahead.

The Dogleg Slide comes into view.

An impressive swath of destruction, triggered by a rainstorm in October 1995.

Entering a wild amphitheatre enclosed by cliffs on both sides.

Lunch break, sunscreen and sunglasses required.

Like a glacier.

The dark wall of the Split Cliff rises ahead.

 Nice view to the north.

Garfield, Galehead, SW Twin, South Twin, West Bond, Hitchcock and Bond.

Mark ponders the first ice bulge, which bars the way at 3000 ft. On a previous visit three winters ago, in softer snow conditions, we skirted this on the right and continued up to the second ice bulge, which requires technical climbing gear.

We were snowshoeing, not mountaineering, and the Mt. Washington Avalanche Center noted that the open snowpack was "firm, icy and smooth" and that there was a "long sliding fall hazard." Our snowshoe crampons were biting very well, but descending a steep open slope in these conditions seemed unwise. So we made this our turnaround point.

A zoom on the second ice bulge and the swath above. Lots o' ice.

Not a bad spot to lounge in the sun for a while.

Another angle on the first ice bulge.

The crags of the Split Cliff peering over.



 Zoom on Garfield rearing above the eastern slope of Owl's Head.

In his 1958 dissertation, "Landslides and Their Revegetation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire," Edward Flaccus listed Mountain Alder (aka Green Alder) as one of the many plant species that revegetate landslide tracks. Seen here are last season's cones.

Mark was taking an imaginary ski run as he descended the slide track.

Heading down past a massive slide-side rock.

Full facade of the Split Cliff.

Scouring from the slide.

Osceola Boulevard.

Fine view of the Hancocks and Arrow Slide.

 Last look back at the Dogleg and Split Cliff.

With longer daylight hours, we had time to visit the next slide to the west, sometimes called the Middle Slide. To do this, we climbed onto the intervening ridge and made a steep, scrappy descent to another branch of Pine Brook.

After bushwhacking upstream through the woods, we dropped onto the brook where it, too, was buried in snow, in a lovely little nook of the valley.

Another snowy highway through the forest.

A double cascade marks the start of the open part of the slide.

The last pitch up the cascade was too steep for my liking, so I retreated and made an alternate route through the woods while Mark waited patiently below.

I emerged beside the next pitch of the slide, with a bit of ledge and running water revealed.

In summer, this is the Osceola Coliseum.

 A long view up the Middle Slide. This one doesn't receive much sun.

Amply steep.

Fork in the slide.

Farther up.

The Hancock Overlook was visible below its namesake peaks.

View from the bottom.

Stone sentinels.

Looking back.

Homeward bound.

Our descent route briefly followed yet another branch of Pine Brook, this one draining the four-pronged Northwest Slides. No time for those today!

Back over the ridge.

Roaming in the Osceola woods.

Parting look at Pine Brook, Split Cliff in the distance.

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