Skiing: Hunter Mountain and John Robb Leanto | Catskill Mountains, NY | 1/15/10

It really wasn't the best conditions when we set out to ski up Hunter Mountain via the Spruceton Jeep Trail. Down in Spruceton Valley it was a bit above freezing and it was drizzling on and off very lightly. This made for some pretty difficult waxing conditions for me since nothing really seemed to work on the slightly wet snow and I wasn't going to go too warm with the wax since I'd never get it off for the way down. Thankfully Moe's skis are waxless, so there was a lot less work for him.
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

The first mile and a half is fairly easy as this is the best part of the old roadway. It's wide and while it does climb to the notch between Hunter and Rusk, it does so at a fairly gentle pace that makes for a fairly easy ski up.

Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

The snow conditions improved just below the notch too as the air temperature was steadily dropping as we climbed. It was cold enough that the drizzle had turned into snow flurries and snow that was already on the ground was no longer wet, but fairly powdery, which made for a lot easier climbing on my skis.

From the notch, the jeep trail narrows down and climbs steeply up to the site of the newly rebuilt John Robb leanto in about a mile or so. From there it's another mile and a half to the summit of Hunter Mountain, but after the leanto the grade drops off quite a bit and in places, the road is flat for quite a ways.

Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

Our original plan had been to go all the way to the summit but by about halfway to the leanto, I gave up on that idea. It wasn't that the conditions weren't good, but this was only Moe's 3rd real backcountry ski trip and I knew he'd have some trouble coming down the narrow and fairly steep trail from the leanto. Why stretch him even thinner by going to the summit in one shot.
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

So instead of going to the summit, when we got to the leanto, we stopped for lunch. We changed out of the clothes we climbed up in to stay warm and then enjoyed some hot chocolate while the leanto protected us from the wind that was whipping up the side of the mountain.

Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

I would have liked a bit more of the powder on top of the frozen base, but the conditions for the ski down from the leanto were not all that bad. Moe was still getting used to telemark skis and had a few falls and I know there were a few places I took my time, but overall, the trip back down to the notch wasn't all that bad. On a few of the steepers sections, Moe ended up walking down, but I was proud of myself for making it all the way down on the skis considering I haven't done any real heavy backcountry like this in a while.

Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

From the notch down, the trip is usually just a cruise. It's not really steep enough that you'll go too fast, but because of the snow conditions, the snow was pretty quick. It had dropped below freezing all the way down to the valley at this point, but since the snow had been wetted by the drizzle, it was now crusty and icy, so if you were in the track, you went fast and if you tried to get out, you'd break the crust, which made for a few hard turns here and there.


It was nice to get back to the truck...after climbing to the leanto and then heading back, it was nice to relax and warm up.

Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10
Hunter Mountain/John Robb Leanto Ski Trip - 1/15/10

The entire photo set for the trip on Flickr

The store behind the rebuilding of the John Robb Leanto.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskills and the Catskill Park?




Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills? We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set. These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park. The Catskill Center offers a regional map of the Catskills that provides an excellent overview of the region, it's roadways, attractions and trails. National Geographic Trails Illustrated also produces a map for the region. 

How about a guidebook? Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region. 

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line. For the most comprehensive natural history of the Catskill Park and the Forests of the Catskill region, we recommend reading The Catskill Forest, a History by Michael Kudish.

   

Comments

  1. kind of hard trip, my mind was transported while i was reading, but at the end the best part come, when you can warm each other up, nice guys. This is the firs tome i see your blog, quite interesting because i like as well outdoor activities. I think i will keep reading the next adventures!. lenon

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  2. What a perfect length on a trail! It looks like a really fun one! I live in Washington state, and were quickly approaching the ski season, and I couldn't be more excited! Just out of curiosity what type of hiking gaiters would you reccommend? I need to get some new ones, but just wondering what a good brand might be, I posted a link to some I was looking at that I liked. Have you tried them before? Thanks for the help I appreciate it :)

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  3. I use the Outdoor Research Croc Gaitors. They are pretty heavy duty and work great for back country skiing. Not quite as strong if you're doing ice climbing or something - I've ripped mine a few times on crampons. Though Duct Tape on the inside of the gaitor works pretty well in taking care of small tears.

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