Ice Climbing in the Catskills, NY

Kickin’ it (winter camping style) in the Catskills.

Oh, how I love New York.

J stemming the Twin Columns.

Well, actually I’d never been there before, but it was time for an adventure. After an 12 hour car drive (well, passenger ride really) we finally made it to the Catskills. I found it moderately amusing that the folk that work in gas stations and are happy? to give directions sound just like us. Well, sorta.

In any case Michelle and I arrived a bit before our Boston hailing friend, and decided to pick a campsite. Really, this just ended up being a parking lot, on the side of the road. But, hey, we were tired and wanted to car camp. I think we were so tired that setting up Michelle’s Big Agnes Big House 6 seemed like a good idea. Well, we all had plenty of room, even if it was a bit chilly.


Michelle's Mock Lead at Abestos

The next morning (after getting weird looks from passerby’s) we broke down camp and wandered down to Asbestos wall. The approach was SUPER short, and the walls are pretty nice so I highly recommend it for a fun, easily accessible, top roping day. We set up two different top rope sites and played around on them for hours. Michelle did her first mock ice lead, and yes, I’m very proud of my little ice climber. I also did a legit WI2+/3 lead, that was super fun, and super easy. And Justin, well, tried to get into shape. Bless his soul.


That evening we took a little gander up the mountain and camped right near the approach to Stoney Cove. It was much warmer the second night. I have a feeling this might be because the three of us were actually using a 2 person winter tent. Three bodies, three zero degree sleeping bags, three collections of junk, room for two? Yea, I was actually sweating. But that might also be because I was miserably sick on this trip. (I had been battling the cold from hell, which lasted about 3 weeks.)
Sunday morning, after tea time and a little re-organization we headed up the east side of Stony Cove. We ran into some older folk who were experienced snowshoers, and recommended we strap ours on. After an incredibly steep approach using snowshoes that didn’t have heel bars, we quickly regretted that decision. One piece of gear that I desperately need, is a good pair of ascent specific snowshoes. Bringing the trekking poles however, was an excellent idea.

The Playground, Stoney Cove East

The Playground rope free

Once at the top we ran smack into the Playground. A few guides were working on setting up 4 top ropes for their novice group that was soon to met up, and they were basically monopolizing the whole area. Fortunately, the twin columns are a stones throw away so Michelle and Justin took off to set up a rope. This whole area is great for setting top ropes. There are easy walk-ups, and if you can lead a WI2, you’re money. The left most line on the Playground is about a WI2-, and I imagine taking a rope up this way might save a little time.
In any case, I twiddled my thumbs yet again, waiting for them to drop the rope. (In the right place, yea, I’m good for something…) Soon after we all had a chance to climb the route, another group set up a rope on the far right side of the columns. We did a little switching off, and goofing around.

The results:

Michelle bests 6 axes...

I’ll let you be the judge.
On another note, we did end up climbing the playground as well. The far right line was in, and WET. But it was a solid route, that not many, if any, of the guide groups ‘customers’ could send.
After the clean, we did a little sliding down the approach. Yes, I love doing this, and I love that my shell has a snow-skirt. (I’m sure Arc’teryx designed it in mind for ass sliding with trekking poles, and an ascent bag full of climbing gear, no?) And somewhere between then, and home Michelle lost a tool. So if anyone has an old Petzl Quark up for sale, let a girl know.

All in all, another solid trip. Plus, I love driving through Canada. (And visiting close friends and felines in Buffalo).

Kiley and I.

About vanizzle17

Climber and Adventure Therapist.
This entry was posted in Trips & Destinations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Ice Climbing in the Catskills, NY

  1. Michelle says:

    Yesssssss! I miss this trip. Solid update. Cannot wait for the Gunks this summer? 🙂

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