Winter Peakbaggers By Phil Hazen

The word is not even in the dictionary, but ask a few Burlington Section members and they may say with a sly smile, “Yeah, I’m one of them.” The hiking season is short for this activity, from the winter solstice to the spring equinox — roughly from December 21 to March 21 as the exact time and date varies slightly from year to year.

It usually starts out quite innocently. You talk to a hiking companion on some hike and they casually mention working on completing some list of mountains to hike. At this time it’s summer, and after a short discussion it’s revealed that people actually do this as a winter pursuit as well. If you keep asking more questions at this point, you are probably hooked. “You have the disease.”

In the Northeast there are many lists of mountains to hike; the oldest is the Adirondack Forty Sixers with the club formed in 1948. In 1957 the Four Thousand Footer Club was organized with the lists of the 4000 footers of New Hampshire and 4000 footers of New England (includes New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont).

Then in 1968 the New England’s Hundred Highest Club was added, followed in 1971 by the 111ers of Northeastern USA. Obviously there is a little overlap on these lists. The “111ers” includes all the 4000 footers from New York to Maine – currently there being 115 peaks on the list, but the name remains the same. The “Hundred Highest List” includes 4000 footers of New England (67) plus another 33 sub 4000 footers.

As Burlington Section GMC members, we are pretty centrally located to go either west or east to hike one of these lists, so depending on our compass setting we may start most anywhere. Some of us started out doing the Adirondack 46 ers and then migrated to the Northeast 111ers. Out of the first 44 winter finishers of the Northeast 111ers, 10 of us have been Burlington Section Members. Ralph Gibbs was the first as #5 in 1983 followed by Dot Myer #6 in 1985 and the first woman to do this list in winter.

Later came George Putnam #19, John Sharp #20, and Tony Smith #21, followed by Mary Lou Recor #35, Liz Moloff #39, and Mary Natches #40. After that was Phil Hazen #42 and Phil Schlosser #44.

Then there have been a few us (“we were incurable”) that went on to complete the Hundred Highest in winter. That includes John Sharp, Tony Smith, Liz Moloff, Mary Natches, Phil Hazen, and Phil Schlosser.

Our quest took us to the far reaches of the Northeast and places we would not have ordinarily have gone. We met many other hikers along the way and shared some amazing experiences. I can safely say that we all share a love for the mountains. The Four Thousand Footer Committee says it well: “…hope that our members will continue to work for the protection and preservation of the mountain experiences.”

If you have read this far you are probably a Burlington Section GMC member. I want to thank you for your continuing support in helping us protect and maintain the Long Trail – a 272-mile part of all of our mountain experiences.
(February, 2007)

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