The Catskills are home to many high quality ice routes that accommodate both novices and seasoned climbers alike. Areas such as the Asbestos Wall are perfect for novice climbers to gain experience climbing ice in the relative comfort of a short, southeast facing cliff. For the multipitch enthusiasts, areas like Stoney Clove offer moderate and more difficult routes high in the Stoney Clove pass. The Devils Kitchen is unique in having such a high concentration of classic lines of varying difficulty so close to the road. The Black Chasm is home to some of the steepest, most sustained ice pitches in the Northeast and is a testing ground for your skills in the absurd endeavor of hard ice climbing.
Given the increasing popularity of winter climbing, easily accessed areas can be very crowded on weekends between mid-December and mid-March. Fortunately, this increase in pressure has been met with a flurry of new mixed route development in areas such as the Devils Kitchen and Stoney Clove. These routes offer a good technical workout to those looking to climb harder, more challenging lines.
With our increased numbers also comes increased responsibility. Please endeavor to be extremely considerate of others. If your party is arriving in two cars, meet in town or a parking lot near the highway and carpool from there. Parking is becoming extremely limited and its just bad karma to waste our community resources. Also, have respect for ice climbs that are thin and still developing. If you are toproping, you should always be able to climb without knocking down a significant amount of ice. If you find yourself sending down bombs, maybe you should dial down the difficulty and focus on your hooking and delicate climbing technique. One day you will come to appreciate that it is in our community's best interest to protect delicate climbs so that they can be led. Don't underestimate the importance of this just because you are not leading yet. Limit toprope activities to solid, well formed routes, and if you do venture on to more delicate lines, have respect and limit your laps. Furthermore, you should be aware that many mixed climbs are dependent on frozen moss, turf, and mud. Climbing these routes when they are not frozen is yet another way to start accumulating bad karma.
The Catskill Ice climbing areas are spread across the park and, as such, you should look to each sub area for specific directions. In general, you take I-87 to either Exit 19 or 20, depending on which areas you want.
THE gear shop for ice climbing in the Catskills is Rock & Snow; they have everything you could possibly need for purchase or rent, as well as local-knowledge directions and conditions reports.
The only guidebook for the iceclimbing in the Catskills is posted under the "Books" section: "An Ice Climber's Guide to the Catskill Mountains", third edition, written by Marty Molitoris and available where advertised. Please be considerate to Marty and the effort he has put in to documenting the history of the area and only upload information you know from first hand experience.
Purgatory is one of the mega classic hard ice routes in the Catskills, and more generally, the northeast. Adirondack legend Joe Szot put up this route ground up on trad gear in a 3+ hour lead. His staunch trad ethic was not enough to stop this route from being subsequently bolted. Although it no longer offers the experience that Joe had on the first ascent, it still packs quite a punch considering that the bolts are well spaced up high and the top is, more often than not, not thick enough for go...[more]Browse More Classics in NY