Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

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Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby S. M. Lee » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:34 pm

Hello everyone! I just put together my touring setup and was wondering if anyone has information regarding where backcountry skiing/touring is possible in the Catskills or surrounding area. I understand the 'dacks are probably better for this, but I live much closer to the Catskills, and I am just starting out so I'm more interested in places where I can practice the proper technique and such in terms of the uphill (in other words, I'm not too concerned with getting the greatest downhill). Specific input regarding where to go, what types of weather conditions are necessary (i.e., how much does it need to snow), and the severity of avy risks would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time.
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Re: Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby mike » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:40 pm

The ADK's have more options, but the park is larger. The Catskills do have options. Here are a couple off the top of my head:

Colgate Lake to Dutcher's Notch (pretty much flat for 4.5 miles one-way - 9 miles RT)
Bearpen from Ski Run Road (lots of snowmobiles - 10 miles round trip - mild jeep road, then long ridge to ski on to Bearpen Mtn).
North-South Lake (so many trails - lots of people on weekends - snowmobiles - beautiful area - popular area for snow shoeing and skiing)
Huntersfield Road to Jim Cleveland Road (hard to find a place to park - wide road with climbing and descending).
Ashland Pinnacle Access area (hard to find a place to park)
South Mtn Access Area (hard to find a place to park)
Snowmobile trail around Kaaterskill & RoundTop Mtn (hard to get to the snowmobile loop - about 10 miles)
Overlook Carriage Road from Platte Clove to Woodstock (need 1-2 feet of snow for one part - rest is okay
Balsam Lake Mtn Fire tower from the NE (easy ski except for one small section)
Winter Clove (good place to stay too)
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Re: Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby S. M. Lee » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:47 pm

Wow! Thanks, Mike, that's a lot of options! No surprise regarding the ADK's, but I'm glad to see there are options in the Catskills. I have a special connection with those hills since I started most of my backpacking there.

When does the season usually start a.k.a. how soon can I get out there and bust out these skis?!?! (I'm from South Jersey, so I really don't know what local conditions are like from year to year)

I see that most of these are primarily for cross-country skiing, which is exactly what I'm looking for to get some good practice/good sights in, but do any of them have any sort of downhill portion? I'm guessing the ones up to summits do, but what are the downhills like?

I'm guessing there isn't much avalanche risk in these areas...

I know these questions might sound pretty silly, but like I said, I'm completely new to this. Thanks again, Mike, and to anyone else that might share some insider tips.
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Re: Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby mtnclimber » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:45 am

Mike's got a pretty good list. Hard to say when it will snow. But, there is a small amount on the peaks now. Sometimes we have a good base by the end of December. Sometimes the good base starts in mid-January. But, you need a 1-2' base to cover up the rocks.

If you are just learning, then North-South Lake might be a good place. Especailly if the lake is frozen with some snow on it.

Bearpen is a former ski center. Ski Run road is a gradual incline, then a 2mile ridge walk to Bearpen. You can ski down some of the old runs and come out in Heisinger road. Some of the roads are narrow, and the saplings are growing up in places. Saplings and skies don't mix. Some backcountry skiers have taken to the place. If you stay up there, you might consider Winter Clove Inn. They have a golf course you can ski on too. Golf courses are good to learn on because they are wide open spaces.
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Re: Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby S. M. Lee » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:40 pm

Yeah, Ski Run Road up to Bearpen and down to Heisinger sounds PERFECT. The only thing wrong with that plan is that I have to wait--but I guess that's just east coast skiing. Maybe it'll be a great snow year. Otherwise I might have to make the drive up to the ADKs and tackle Bearpen later on as a quick daytrip. Thanks a lot for the input, guys. I really appreciate it.
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Re: Basic backcountry skiing/touring in the Catskills

New postby schwanzstucker » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:06 am

I just ordered a backcountry package and would love to get out and explore some of the above areas as well. Love that video of slide mt skiing on youtube! Pray for good snow!
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