My son and I set out from a very chilly Manker Flat at 8am sharp. The trail was clear all the way to the ski hut, but a couple of hundred meters beyond that we had to put our crampons on. From that point to the summit the trail was about 85% covered with hard packed snow. We encountered one hiker who didn't have his crampons on when he should have. He slipped off the trail and was extremely fortunate to have been stopped by a clump of vegetation after only about 15 feet. My son and I went down to help him. Turns out he had only one crampon with him and even that one wouldn't stay on because of the construction of his boot's heel. We literally dragged this guy back up to the trail. The group he was with had in the meantime just been watching their friend's travail. I told the group's apparent leader that their friend should not proceed without crampons. I assume the group went back because we did not see them any more.
Above approximately 8'000 feet the wind was howling and this made for a very exhilarating climb. The trail is pretty gradual so ice axes were not needed; trekking poles were sufficient. At the summit, the winds barely allowed us to stand in one place and I would estimate it was about 10 degrees F. with wind chill. West Baldy across the way looked inviting so we hiked over to that summit as well. The vistas were grand. The sun was out and the day was glorious. We returned the same way, feeling enriched by our outing.
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