–submitted by Ken Warren
New Years morning was cold, breezy and clearing when four Ramblers set out in the snow from Witchcraft Lake to Mt Benson. There was one truck in the parking lot before us and a single hiker ahead of us. Trail conditions were fair with around 6cm of fresh snow softening up the ice slick of the well used track. We made good time to the halfway point with a short off trail ramble to mix things up.
From the halfway junction we took the most direct route as the temperature dropped, the wind rose, and the snow deepened. By that time we were all in micro-spikes or crampons making our way to the false summit. The views were spectacular, but only quickly appreciated as the wind was cutting. We took the trail around the southwest of the peak, the weatherly side, and enjoyed the fantastic shapes carved by snow and wind on the trees. The last stretch was slow and slippery, but we summited before noon and enjoyed a brief look at the coastal mountains, the city and the island mountains. Three hikers summited before us, but we enjoyed a crisp and peaceful sense of accomplishment for the new year.