Bearpen Mountain Hike with Ben Lane

In the four years since we posted an interview with Russ LaChapelle, about the Catskills’ enigmatic Bearpen Mountain — the one that got away — that article has become far and away NY Ski Magazine’s most popular, both in page views and comments.


Between my conversations with Russ, his many forum posts on the Snowjournal website, a feature article on his Lost New York website, and a 2014 trip report from Matt Lucas here on NYSB, I felt like I already knew Bearpen even though I’d never been there.

The closest that I’d ever come to the former Princeton Ski Bowl was seeing it from afar while at other Catskill ski areas, after which I’d always post photos in trip reports captioned with “Bearpen Mountain In The Distance.”

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Bearpen Mountain: Going the Distance

Change is a constant in New York and exceptions will only prove that rule. Through the foggy goggles of memory, we skiers like to reminisce about the past, but someone else will always remember the story differently from a time before we lived it.


Bearpen is like that for me, as I can play “remember when.”  Still, I learned about the mountain from NELSAP, but that was well after the halcyon era for the bygone resort.

I suppose my own glory days at Bearpen were spent assisting the owners and the caretaker, Russ LaChapelle in maintaining the property and learning of its storied past.

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Bearpen: The Original Beast Of The East

Four months ago, we posted an interview with New York ski history expert Russ LaChapelle, in which he explained how his passion for lost Empire State ski areas developed over the years.

Of the many ski centers that had closed for good, none caught his imagination more than Bearpen — a mountain in the western Catskills that could have turned into the biggest resort east of the Rockies. Instead, it became a forgotten footnote. But this story must be heard.

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