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Alpine Scramble - Osceola

Osceola Peak scramble / larch trip post winter storm.

  • Snow and ice on road
  • We hiked  in on Monday (9/30) am, starting on the road from the parking lot located about 0.3 miles after Harts  Pass campground. Road was completely covered in snow and it was icy in places. Trail was completely covered in fresh, dry snow, its depth varying from ankle to  calves  deep on the approach. On our hike out started  Tuesday afternoon (10/1) and finished on Wednesday at noon (10/2), snow was melted out in various portions of the trail (around 5000 ft elevation) and the road from Slate Pass to Harts Pass Campground  was 80% dry.

    The actual scramble of Osceola (10/1)  was  a bit sketchy due to snow, slippery and unstable rocks. 

As a party of 5, we drove to Mazama on Sunday (9/29) afternoon  and decided to get everybody in one truck  and  drive up to Harts Pass / Slate Pass to check out conditions post early season winter storm. We were able to make it to Slate Pass  but there were no parking opportunities,  snow being a couple of feet deep. We carefully made it back down to Harts Pass Campground and concluded we would park the next morning in the parking lot located 0.3 miles after the campground. That approach added extra 3 miles (road hike) to our trip but it was the right thing to do, all wintry things considered.

We spent the night in Winthrop, and started our 14 miles hike in on Monday, 8 am. Given snow covered trail, it took us 7.5 hours to get to Doris Lake.  We did setup camp (4 pm)  and decided  to not go for Osceola that afternoon, due to snow  pack, poor visibility and limited day light. We had to deal with one of the coldest winter camping experiences we have ever  had in the Cascades , with temps  in teens but we woke up the next morning to beautiful blue skies and knew we would have a perfect weather window to climb Osceola.  Snow coverage made things interesting on our ascent and descent but we safely made it on the summit in 4 hours and got back to the camp under 2 hours. Climbing Carru, Lago and Blackup (initially part our itinerary)  was not an option anymore due to unconsolidated snow coverage. We decided to partially hike out that afternoon and setup camp  about 0.5 mile before  Ferguson Lake trail split, right next to the Middle Fork Pasayten River. Great decision and perfect spot for camping. Next day we only had to hike out 8 miles instead of 14. By noon we were back to Slate Pass.

Larches were close to their peak at / around Doris Lake. Blue sky+Golden larches+Snow = Gorgeous  scenery  hard to leave behind on our way our on Tuesday afternoon. Even though we had to scale it down due to early wintry conditions, it was a great, successful trip.

 

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