Wolfgang Hokenmaier’s qualifications as trip leader were challenged right in the parking lot by both participants, Jeff Wehrwein and Phil Hazen, for two apparently obvious reasons:
- He had never heard of Microspikes before
- He had the trip all backwards, as the descent should be via Maple Ridge instead of Sunset Ridge.
The route change was accepted, along with Wolfgang’s almost certain slippery faith on the mountain, and off we went.
The weather was warmer (relatively speaking) than last year’s uncompleted attempt of the same hike, so this time there would be no turning back. Plus, the small group was determined to give Phil Hazen the maximum training effect before his impending departure to conquer South America’s highest.
It turned out to be cold enough, with temperatures in the single digits and a howling wind along the summit ridge. But it was also beautiful to see some “real winter” with all of the Champlain Valley lower elevations still snow-less. We used Lower Teardrop instead of the CCC-Road on the final descent, a nice and easy shortcut to the lower elevation winter parking lot.
Phil Hazen with “Flat Stanley”, Jeff Wehrwein and trip leader Wolfgang Hokenmaier