Entry level mountaineering

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Entry level mountaineering

New postby Wolfie2nd » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:55 pm

Well I'm about to take the plunge and sign up for mountaineering school and before I do I was wondering if the Catskills has any mountains that I can practice the skills on that I would learn at the school? I know that there's plenty of ice when the weather is right. So how about some steep gullies with maybe some mixed climbing or one or the Other. I'm just trying to figure out weather I'm actually going to have a place to train for the big boys without having to drive 5 hrs... any help or info would be great
Thanks in advance.,
Doug
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby mike » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:03 pm

Not a lot of rock climbing in the Catskills. There are some groups that do hike into the Kaaterskill Clove and Platte Clove. Both are dangerous. The rock is not that stable. The last climber that tried Kaaterskill Falls, fell and died. The best rock climbing is in the Gunks. Which is close to the Catskill Mountains (30 miles away).

BUT, when Winter arrives, come back to the Catskills. We have some of the best ice climbing. Ice climbing is popular in the Kaaterskill Clove. There are 45 waterfalls in the clove. Most can be climbed. A few are on private property, which you can't climb. By Moore's Bridge (Prospect Rock) is a common beginner spot. Others like to climb Buttermilk, Wildcat, Viola, and Hillyer ravines and waterfalls. All of them are excellent. Then there is the Devil's Kitchen, which has 18 waterfalls with many of the sides that are climbable. There is another ice climbing spot on Rt 214.

If you like challenging hiking/climbing then do the Devil's Path in the Winter. Some do it in snowshoes. But, most use cramp-ons and an ice axe.
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby Wolfie2nd » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:21 pm

Yeah the devils path was a good time we did all 24 miles in 2.5 days and even made a side trip to the thrown room last February in that lovely glaze of ice you guys had out there last year. The problem is that I'm still looking for more of a challenge. Don't get me wrong the DP was by no means easy but I want even harder more demanding trips the type of stuff that will make you stop an think..
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby bikenhike » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:58 pm

There are some rock climbing places in the Catskills but you have to hike to them. Like the east and south side of KHP. The South access route to KHP is also a good hiking trail. Quite challenging. The Platte Clove is also very challenging, but also dangerous due to the water. What about the Buttermilk Ravine that Mike just did? Rocky has some nice rocks to climb too, along with Wittenburg. I don't know if you can rock climb the Giant Ledge or not.
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby Wolfie2nd » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:28 pm

Thanks for all the info guys. What does KHP stand for?
It doesn't have to have 5th class climbing 4th class can be just as Fun.
An once again thanks for all the info
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby mike » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:05 pm

KHP stands for Kaaterskill High Peak. The top part of the mountain has some harder rock that is climbable. Most people just hike up the trails (north, south, and west access). Very few people go there to climb. Not sure on the quality of the climbing.

Buttermilk Ravine wouldn't be good climbing terrain. Full of moss, algae, and loose rock. Very dangerous place to hike or climb.

The south access point to KHP is probably the most difficult hiking in the Catskills. It is not an official DEC trail. I am sure you would like it. Not safe with snow on the ground. Followed by the north access route to Blackhead.
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby Sam » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:02 pm

In all honesty I think the longer drive to the Adirondacks, Whites, or the Katahdin area would facilitate a place for you to dabble in mountaineering. You can actually rope up, use some of the skills that you will use on the "big boys", and at the end of the day feel like you've truly been to a place and done something that requires a tremendous amount of skill, endurance, and knowledge to safely travel through the terrain.

The Catskills are fantastic mountains to snow shoe in and cross country ski (in some places), but will not demand any of the skills that will be demanded of you in most true "mountaineering destinations". You can really get a good day of heart pounding up and downs in the Catskills on a winter day with a heavy pack to simulate a mountaineering experience, but it will not adequately provide you with "mixed terrain".

As mike said the Catskills do offer a plethora of waterfalls/ravines to climb during "Winter" (hopefully this winter will not be a repeat of last year's). So you could potentially polish some of your skills on vertical ice, here in the Hudson Valley.

Just out of curiosity where are you headed and which outfit are you signed up with?

Best of luck!
-Sam
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby Wolfie2nd » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:16 pm

I'm prebably going to use ems cause their about the only affordable ones I've found for a 3 day course
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Re: Entry level mountaineering

New postby Sam » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:22 pm

Oh, I got the wrong impression. Well, have a good time! They should take good care of you! The people who work at the EMS down in Poughkeepsie are very friendly. Haven't had a chance to mingle with the folks across the river in Gardiner, yet. I assumed you were signed up for a more extensive program. My bad.
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