Friday, March 31, 2017


Mark Klim and I enjoyed a spectacular early spring day for trip #4 in our Osceola slide snowshoe bushwhack series. The Dogleg, which crashed down during a big rainstorm in late fall 1995, is one of the most visible (from the Kanc Highway) and impressive slides in the Whites. We went partway up, as far as snowshoes would take us.

We began our bushwhack a short distance in on the Greeley Ponds XC Ski Trail, ascending through open hardwoods on solid crusty snow that had frozen overnight. We knew the top layer of snow would soften up later with sun and temps near 40, but underneath there was a rock-solid base that has been good for snowshoe bushwhacking for several weeks.

A tuning fork beech, with some bear claw marks.

An interesting rock with what appears to be a fractured basalt (?) intrusion in granite bedrock.

A great day to be in the woods.

I see a slide through the trees!

Contemplating the crossing of a SE tributary brook.

There is an interesting semi-open area here, where the SE tributary joins the main branch of Pine Brook, which comes down from the Dogleg Slide.

Even down here, a mile below the main part of the slide, Pine Brook was scoured out.

We followed Pine Brook for a mile, right along the buried brookbed/slide runout much of the way, taking to the bank or the woods to get around open stretches of water.

This was more enjoyable than pushing through clinging conifer thickets.

A first glimpse of North Hancock, looking back.

This towering white pine rises on the east bank of its namesake brook.

Working a route along the edge of the brook.

Big rock.

There are nice cascades along this stretch of the brook, still mostly hidden by snow this early spring.

A nice pool.

Looking back at the cliffs of West Huntington.

A peek at the tip of West Osceola.

The main summits of Mt. Huntington.

The Dogleg Slide in sight ahead.

Testing a stream crossing.

Into the great wide open - the upper slide track was a snowpacked boulevard.

This was fantastic!

Entering the wild gateway to the slide.

Cliffs on the northern spur of Middle Osceola.

This was the point where I turned around on a probe partway up the slide four winters earlier. That day I had a late start and there was much less snow and more exposed rock due to recent rain and thaw. Conditions were ideal today for continuing up the slide.

A short distance farther we found a good lunch rock.

A stark birch.

The ragged face of Osceola's Split Cliff looms on the east side.

Continuing up the snowbound slide track after our lunch break.

Snowshoeing into the sun. We joked that it was like being on a glacier.

Looking back to a distant northern vista.

Approaching a small ice cliff and a tributary slide at 3000 ft.

After checking and rejecting a route up around to the left, Mark heads across and up to the right side.

He works out a steep but doable way up and around.

Looking up the steep tributary slide.

A very cool spot!

View from above the ice cliff.

Heading higher on snow firmly packed by wind and sun.

Looking back. As usual, it was steeper than it appears in the photo.

A side gully that leads up towards the Split Cliff.

A tiny figure in a stark snowscape.

We came up over a lip.

Going higher.

A happy snowshoer: the spring 'shoeing was superb, and the sun was warm and strong.

Mark working his way up the final pitch of our climb.

A great view of the Hancock Range, from Northwest Hancock on the L to South Hancock on the R..

As I expected from looking at Google Earth, photos from my previous visits, and reports by others, 
this ledge and ice band was the end of the line for snowshoeing. From here on up is crampon and ice tool territory, with several more ice bulges. This bulge is at about 3200 ft.

Heading back down.

On the lip, good spot for a break.

Soaking up the sun.

Coming down by the ice cliff. A thin layer of sugary snow under the crust made for a bit of sketchy descent at this spot.

Summer trip report photos online reveal a small waterfall here.

Mark takes in the view of the Bonds and South Twin beyond Mt. Hitchcock.

A fine day for views.

Mt. Garfield peering over the side of Owl's Head.

Down we go.

A massive rock at the slide's edge.

Afternoon sun on the Split Cliff.

Corn snow 'shoeing.

Looking back up the track.

A good look at the Dogleg.

Crossing one of the open sections of the brook, snowshoe claws grating on rock.

The upper Dogleg.

Heading down through the cascade section of the brook.

Late afternoon sun and shadow.

The SE tributary, which drains the basin between East Osceola and the main summit.

Every whack needs some prickly conifers.

Evening in the hardwoods.

After our whack we went up to the Hancock Overlook to gawk at the Dogleg Slide from a distance.