Did they have snowshoes? No proper equipment for overnight but the article did not mention proper winter equipment for a day-hike. Agree, it's a pretty ambitious winter day-hike they had planned. (Planned, LMAO)
Lots we don't know, but they didn't drive over from NY that morning so they must have been up a day or more in advance. I would find it hard to believe that this would be their first winter hike as there are some smaller more accessible peaks in the area. Had they been downhill skiing and saw the words near the slopes (where they get more sun) didn't have much snow and assumed that areas of deep fir and spruce cover would be the same?
I have to think they were peakbagging off the list, like many of us have done. I've left the snowshoes in the car, (& will today but only venturing into the Holyokes before the storm) and did regret it but that was only on a planned trip to Pierce and that was over. 20 years ago, (I was a uneducated 30 something), meeting Darren on the way up. Glad they are okay, but had the terrain not been snowmobile accessible, this likely would have had a different outcome.
There are few extremely fit 70 year olds (I get beat by them annually at the Manchester Road Race & they beat plenty of fit younger runners also. My 18 year XC and track runner did beat the 1st finisher in the 75-79 bracket by six minutes. The elder finished the 4.748 in just over 41 minutes. That said he stays an elite runner at his age because he's running not trying winter 4K's)