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2,000 Feet and Above: Exploring Every Corner of the Catskills

Mar 20, 2012

We have the pleasure of sponsoring adventurer Erik Schlimmer. Most recently Schlimmer reached his goal to peak bag 387 peaks over 2,000 in New York's Catskill Mountains. Below is an account of his experience, maybe after reading his blog, you too, will feel inspired to reach your goals or even set a new one or two.

2,000 Feet and Above: Exploring Every Corner of the Catskills

By Erik SchlimmerMarch 17, 2012

A peakbagger generally has three choices of what to do with his mountain climbing penchant when he “finishes” a list.  He can hang up his peakbagging hat and retire.  He can put a spin on the list he recently completed, such as climbing all his peaks during winter.  Or he can find a list of mountains somewhere else.  But few peakbaggers realize a fourth option: Lower the cut-off elevation of your list.



After climbing the 35 3,500-foot peaks of New York’s Catskill Mountains, I went back and climbed them all during winter and then completed a continuous traverse of these high peaks.  Next were this range’s 100 highest peaks, which were climbed twice.  Next were the 200 highest peaks, which were all climbed during winter.  Still loving the Catskills, my list slumped even lower to encompass every 2,000-foot peak.  Totaling 387 mountains, this expansive list, bottoming out at a lowly 2,010 feet and topping out at 4,190 feet, is no slouch.

Though the average elevation is low compared to other ranges of the Northeast, these hills still possess respectable wildness.  Nearly 150 have no names, more than 250 receive no mention in guidebooks, and more than 300 have no trails to their summits, which are often covered with downed trees, second growth forests, and briars.  And even if each peak requires an average of only two miles of hiking and 700 vertical feet of climbing (a mere guess), that’s still nearly 800 miles of travel and almost 300,000 vertical feet of climbing, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest from sea level ten times. 



Adding to the challenge is the fact that more than 100 summits are privately owned.  Landowners were sometimes difficult to track down, though when I did find them most immediately gave me permission to hike their peaks, and they wished me luck in my Catskill quest.  A handful of mountains, perhaps twenty, went unclimbed because I was unable to find out who the landowner is or because the landowner denied access.  But hey, getting permission to climb eighty mountains says something about the kindness of the range’s residents and how they can appreciate someone who’s passionate about hiking.

Reaching 2,230-foot Sheridan Mountain, peak #387, during March of 2012 was bittersweet since chasing peaks is more thrilling than catching them.  Now that my work is done, what follows are twenty images from my fifteen-year Catskill quest.  Picking twenty favorites somehow seemed harder than climbing all the peaks. Enjoy. - All twenty of Erik's pictures can be seen at Vasque's Facebook page, here.




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