While climbing 19,400-foot Cotapaxi in Ecuador, Phil Hazen and his colleagues prioritized their goals:
- Have a good time
- Reach the summit
- Return home with no long- term injuries
Whether on the slopes of Mount Rainier, Orizaba in Mexico, or leading hikes for the GMC, this philosophy has permeated Phil Hazen's activities.
Don't be misled by Phil's easy laughter and light-heartedness: he is a serious hiker. He became, in one year, a winter and summer"Adirondack 46er (a person who has climbed the 46 Adirondack 4000-foot peaks). He admits to having a lot of free time that year! Of the 111 highest peaks in the northeast, he has reached the summit of 108 in summer and 71 in winter.
Growing up in rural Nickelville, NY, a quiet town of 200, Phil spent much of his free time hunting and wandering in the woods. When he was too young to be a Boy Scout, he remembers being invited on Scout trips because he owned a tent. He also recalls looking at Mount Marcy and wanting to climb it. Many years later, he fulfilled his dream.
After studying electrical engineering in college, Phil earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering. This was the beginning of a career as an engineer which took him across the country to Michigan, where he learned to ski on top of slopes that were built of garbage piles. Skiing became another passion; he is as likely to be found skiing mountains as hiking them.
Phil has worked as chief engineer for Skidoo in Valcourt, Quebec; Thief River Falls, Minnesota (Arctic Cat); Thetford Mines, Quebec, and Essex Junction (Snojet). He loved Vermont, and stayed. After working eight years for General Electric and several construction firms, he became self-employed and now does small renovations.
Phil credits GMC members Kathy Adams and Rob Thorne, who invited him on their GMC hikes, with renewing his boyhood interest in climbing mountains and finally climbing Mount Marcy.
He began leading hikes for the Burlington Section, and, when Mary Lou Recor and Len Carpenter invited him to participate on the outings committee, he was excited about helping. Phil loves to talk with GMC'ers but he hates paperwork so he split the outings job with Mary Lou and currently co-chairs with Paul Houchens. He also volunteers for trail work and corridor monitoring and was recently elected to the GMC Board of Directors.
Why I climb: I enjoy the challenge and exhilaration of climbing, particularly with the many good friends I have met in the GMC.
GMC hikes: A lot more people will be hiking in the future, putting more stress on popular trails and peaks. We could probably fill a trip up Mansfield every weekend, but is that what we really want? We need to promote more trips on the trails and peaks less traveled.
Making decisions: If I think five years into the future, will I regret not doing this? If so, I do it now.
Favorite trip I've led: The map and compass workshops combine my background in engineering with my love of the outdoors.
Future Trips: I am planning on trekking in the Himalayas, maybe to Everest base camp. Anyone interested?
Last words: Don't forget to say that I am the father of three daughters and have five lovely grandchildren.