Ascent of Tremper Mountain on 2018-03-03

Climber: Douglas Fortman

Others in Party:Jim Haynor -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Malcolm Kogut
Date:Saturday, March 3, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Tremper Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:2720 ft / 829 m

Ascent Trip Report

It had been warm and dry and there was no snow left on the ground in the week or so prior to our hike. My friend Jim came up from Georgia to do some winter hiking - he couldn't go a winter without some. Unfortunately, due to work commitments I was unable to schedule any time off for what has become our annual winter hiking trip in the Adirondacks. So, determined to get in some winter hiking, Jim booked a flight and came up to do some hiking in the Catskills, during the week and over the weekend. He climbed Mount Beacon two days prior. Our friend Malcolm and I were able to join him for a hike on Saturday, when we climbed Mount Tremper. Unfortunately, we experienced a Cyclone Bomb in between those two days which dumped between one and two feet of snow in areas of the Catskills.

We were the first to arrive at the trail head that morning, the parking lot not yet plowed. After we pushed Jim's rental car out of the snow (twice) and relocated it in a nearby parking area in Phoenecia, we finally got out on the trail at 8am. This was Malcolm's first time in snowshoes. Although he loves hiking and done a lot of it (he was born to hike), he has never embraced winter hiking. He was about to get a rude introduction, and unfortunately, I don't think he's a winter hiking convert yet. Snowshoes are heavy, and when the snow is wet like it was, it clings and adds more weight. He would later discover their value.

It was only supposed to be a 3.1 mile hike, a 2000' ascent. But, breaking trail through two feet of snow, and at the higher elevations, where there were three foot drifts of snow to push through, was draining. It ended up taking us just over 5 hours to make it to the summit.

From the parking area to the trail register the trail rises up above the road and follows it for about .25 mile when it comes to the trail register. From that point on, the trail follows an old jeep road up. The wide trail makes for a very pleasant hike, though the higher the elevation, the closer the trees crowd the trail. This day there were many trees that were down with the weight of the snow holding them down, some of them broken.

About .8 mile from the summit is a lean-to, which we did not have any desire to visit. It was only about 100 feet off of the trail, but that seemed like too much work to have to break trail down and then back up again to rejoin the trail. So after we admired it from afar, we pressed on.
The steady steep pitch (which felt steeper due to the snow) finally relented with about .4 mile to go. At that point we were thinking we're almost there now, it can't be far. We kept peering through the trees for any sign of the fire tower. Each time led to disappointment, though, as we realized we had to continue on through the deep snow. How much farther is it???

Finally, we spotted another lean-to and accompanying privy. And then we spotted the fire tower through the trees just beyond the lean-to. Let me catch my breath for a moment here. I feel exhausted just remembering this!

We headed over to the fire tower took the snowshoes off and climbed the stairs to get a glimpse of the surrounding mountains. The cab was locked shut, but the view from just underneath it was terrific. It was cloudy, but we could still see quite a way, clouds hiding the higher peaks. I am not very familiar with the Catskill Mountains yet, but I could definitely pick out Overlook Mountain off to the east. After Malcolm took a few photos (my cell phone died with my first photo of the tower) we headed over to the lean-to to get a bite to eat and prepare ourselves for the return journey.

The return trip was so much more pleasant, no longer fighting gravity and the unbroken depths of snow, and no more wondering how much further to the summit and whether I had enough energy left to make it. We descended and stayed toasty warm without sweating - gravity was our friend now. We finally made it back to the car at about 4:45, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and though exhausted, refreshed by our time in the mountains.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1886 ft / 574 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.6 mi / 12.2 km
    Route:Phoenicia Trail
    Trailhead:Trailhead on County Route 40  834 ft / 254 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Douglas Fortman
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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