Ascent of Plateau Mountain on 2015-07-25

Climber: Matthew Ledwith

Others in Party:Meet Jerry
and Kobi at the first ledge past the summit. Decided to hike as group to Rt 214 and help each other by getting a shuttle back to my car at Mink Hollow.
Date:Saturday, July 25, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Plateau Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3840 ft / 1170 m

Ascent Trip Report


I began my hike from the Mink Hollow Rd TH (not the seasonal road at the end of Elka Park Rd) at 12:15p. The day was warm and humid. I ascended Mink Hollow quite rapidly. I noted how different Sugarloaf and Plateau appear at the height of summer; my last visit to the hollow went up Sugarloaf in the depths of winter. The steep ledges and shelves for which these mountains are known were completely obscured by dense foliage. The hollow funneled streams across the stream bed that doubled as the path. I arrived at the junction for the Devil's Path and the old Mink Hollow Road at 12:35p. I could just make out the roof of the Mink Hollow Lean-to ten years down the junction path and could not see if it was occupied. There was a tent pitched adjacent the Devil's Path with four dudes playing hacky sack in a cleared patch opposite the path. Smoke from a unseen wood fire hung in the air. The dudes were rather loud and did not attempt to greet me when I arrived. I paused to catch my breath and drink from my reservoir.

The trail slowly ascended Plateau by circling north to the southern flank of the northeast shoulder. Along the way I worked past large shelves, boulders, and a spring (not marked). After thirty minutes it found a way up the shoulder through a series of chutes and switchbacks. I ascended this typical Devil's Path terrain from 2800 feet to just above 3500 feet. There was one chute worthy of note. It was steep and required methodical footwork and the occasional hand grab to ascend. It was not nearly as long or difficult as the more impressive chutes on Indian Head, Twin, and Sugarloaf. Just below the summit there was a ledge with a quality view east towards the Devil's Path range, Overlook Mountain southeast, and Kaaterskill High Peak northeast. I spent 45 minutes resting on the ledge. I had not had an adequate lunch for the level of exertion and heat and decided to boil water for a dehydrated meal.

For gear heads: I pack a MSR Pocket Rocket IsoPro backpacking stove. While not as light and compact as the DIY alcohol stoves that are common amongst ultra-light backpackers, it is close. I pack the common IsoPro fuel canisters you see in REI or EMS. I eat with a GSI mess kit which is compact and can contain within the small cooking pot: a plastic heat resistant cup, a plastic spork, a microfiber dish rag, a tiny bottle of highly concentrated dish soap, a bic lighter, and the MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove. Only the food and fuel are stored outside the pot. I love that my kitchen is contained in a tiny cooking pot and isn't even a couple of pounds.

Three groups passed me while I was resting at this ledge. I would see the last two groups later on in the hike. I packed up from my lunch (carry in - carry out) and made the final quick push to the summit. There was no marker nor view at the summit. It was just a spot on a long summit ridge path that was slightly higher than the area around it. The summit is very early upon final ascent and I estimate I arrived at 2:45p but did not pause to celebrate. My original intent was to descend back to Mink Hollow from this point, but I decided to continue on and hike the entire summit ridge. Plateau's summit ridge is much longer than is typical on the Devil's Path and the best views are (reported) to be on the northwest side. I pushed along the trail at a very rapid pace and arrived at the junction for the Long Path/Tremper Mountain Firetower/Warner's Creek and the Devil's Path at 3:00p.

After the trail junction I caught up to the second group that passed me at the ledge. It was a young couple with full 75 liter Osprey packs on. They were pretty quiet and I would later learn why. They had hiked the whole trail that day and were probably exhausted. They let me pass and I raced ahead to pass the next group ten minutes later. They also let me pass and to arrive just ahead of them at 3:30p for the first impressive view. This was a larger ledge with views northeast towards Spruce Top, Kaaterskill High Peak, and the Blackhead Mountain range to the north. I introduced myself to the three guys in this group and asked if they were doing the whole Devil's Path (they had large enough packs to assume they weren't doing a single peak). Jerry, Moe, and Kobi were from NYC and had already done Twin, Sugarloaf, and Plateau. I skeptically asked if they were going to turn around and go back to their car at Prediger Rd TH at the end of the summit ridge. They laughed at this and said they were going to Rt 214 to hitchhike, call a cab, or worse case road hike back to their car. On a whim I offered them a ride to their car if they could get me to my car in the much closer Mink Hollow. I wanted to see this whole summit ridge, but didn't want to back track. Also, I had heard that the descent to Rt 214 was one of the steepest sections of Devil's Path and I wanted to see it.

They agreed and quickly ate some food before we left (thanks for the mango). We kept a good pace for the short hike to the third and final view. This was a great view south towards Stoney Clove and the Burroughs range. We began our descent from this ledge at 3:10p by climbing down the boulders onto a steep trail. Halfway down to Rt 214 we caught up to the backpacking couple who had passed my augmented group at the second ledges. Kobi talked to them the rest of the way down. When we arrived at Rt 214 at 5p, we were unable to get cellphone reception or find anyone who could drive us back. After about thirty minutes of road hiking towards Tannersville we were able to call Smiley's Taxi Cab service and get a ride back to my car. It was expensive but worth it. I dropped Kobi off at Prediger Road TH to get his car and pickup Jerry and Moe. We said goodbye and I drove out of the Catskills via Platte Clove Rd. Great end to a good hike.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1622 ft / 494 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1850 ft / 563 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Hot and Humid. Hazy Day, but Clear.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1622 ft / 494 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Mink Hollow > Devil's Path (red blaze)
    Start Trailhead:Mink Hollow Rd TH  2218 ft / 676 m
    Time:0 Days 2 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1850 ft / 563 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Devil's Path (red naze) > Cab to Car
    End Trailhead:Route 214 TH  1990 ft / 606 m
    Time:0 Days 2 Hours 

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