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Ascent of Mount Kineo on 2013-02-16

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser <3472>; Russ and Susan Collette; Chuck and Martha Holden
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, February 16, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Snowmobile
Peak:Mount Kineo
    Location:USA-Maine
    Elevation:1789 ft / 545 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was at least my 33rd ascent of this mountain but my first during the winter conditions. TR to document the ice fall and routes in full snow and ice conditions.

We left in the later morning once temperature rose to 28 degrees F. Wind was not too bad but had some strong gusts. It was snowing off and on all day. We used snow shoes to go from Holden Cabin through the woods down to the golf course and along Carriage Trail. We ascended the Indian Trail. Two of the ladies traded their snow shoes for microspikes which I feared would be a mistake. the beginning climb (first 150 feet of vertical) is the steepest section of the trail and when wet or icey is tricky. 6 inch snow dusted the ground with a lot of slick ice and ice falls from all of the tree roots and people were slipping and falling. I had no trouble with snow shoes as the crampon on the bottom held most of the pitches.

Martha had her microspikes give way and she slipped on ledge. The snow pushed aside you could see she was about 8 feet above ground on the edge of a rounded wall of slick ice and could not move without falling. Susan and I worked over to her and helped her off the edge and back to her feet. They then joined the rest of us with snowshoes and all did better. I had crampons with me and they would have been perfect for the icey conditions but I did not want to lead Karen into something she could not negotiate with only snowshoes. Chuck and Russ had climbed to the first overlook, Russ using his oversized bigfoot Cabela shoes (36 inchers).

There were several slip and falls along the way but all and all it was a pretty safe route and no ropes were needed just caution on the icey sections. The tower afforded great views of the frozen lake below with about 24 inches of ice pack. There were three major shift faults in the lake that could be seen from above that we did not see at grade. One stretched across the lake and looked like it was 3 feet high. A nightmare for a snowmobile to stike in a whiteout. The Moose River has two paths of unfrozen water near its mouth. A place where they have a lost a snowmobile or two when riders stray from the marked trails. Not a fun way to go.

We elected to take the seldomly used "North Trail" back. The trail is harder to follow and has fewer steps. It is not as steep, but without the steps has many sections of steep solped pitches that were not good with snowshoes. Crampons would have worked here better but I stayed with my snowshoes and watched by colleagues stumble and fall and do a lot of butt slides. Chuck did a nice job of spotting the ladies off the few short fall ledges and we took the last slope near the bottom as a control glissade with shoes in the air and skipoles to slow us.

We then walked over the deepest part of the lake where the glaciers carved the bottom over 250 deep below us, and hiked around to the concave cliff of Rhyolite above us. Standing on 250 of water and looking up 700 feet was spectacular in winter snow and ice.

We took the group across the island and over and back to the cabin and then Karen and I set out to complete the hike by walking over to the ice falls that the ice climbers use. We crossed the golf course again, dodged a caravan of snowmobiles, and thne bushwhacked up through the woods and made and ascent to the base of the falls. The base of the falls is around 300 feet upslope against the vertical wall of the mountain. I abandoned my snowshoes and used crampons at the base of the ice fall when I realized the entire area under the falls was thick slick ice. We took many photos and hoped to see an ice climber but the windy conditions must have discouraged climbers so we had the mountain to ourselves all day.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1209 ft / 367 m
    Total Elevation Loss:460 ft / 139 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Grade/Class:1,2,3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Breezy, Overcast
28 F
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:849 ft / 258 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 749 ft / 229 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Loss on way in:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:KOA trails to Indian trail
    Start Trailhead:Holden cabin - Moosehead Lake  1040 ft / 316 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:360 ft / 109 m
    Gain on way out:360 ft / 109 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:North trail to lake to cabin to icefall base to ca



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