The trip had been planned to go up the Laura Cowles trail, since that provides more protection than Sunset Ridge in the wind, but Laura Cowles is steep, and disliked by some. We had a good day, little wind, and there had been deep snow a few days before, so we decided we would take whichever trail had been stamped out by previous hikers. The existing footprints led to Sunset Ridge, so we went that way. In general, the snowpack was deep but firm.
Once on the ridge, the weather was about as benign as it can be in winter, but on the ground we were greeted by large stretches of ‘water-ice’ – bare rock that had been covered by water, now frozen in solid, flowed sheets. Micro-spikes or some other type of crampon were needed to handle this ice, so we all put them on and continued up. The trip to the top took 3 _ hours from the winter parking lot. There were high, thick cloud layers building from Camel’s Hump south, but we had clear weather above Mansfield, and great views to the north. After a short lunch break, we headed down, again using Sunset Ridge, and arrived back at the cars 5 and 3/4 hours after starting.