Wittenberg and Cornell Hike

During our time living in Colorado, my wife and I fell in love with climbing mountains. Soon after moving there in 2011 we learned of the list of 14ers, Colorado’s 58 14,000-foot peaks. We were hooked and spent most summer and fall weekends ticking these peaks off. I always thought it was dumb to focus on climbing peaks on a list, but something about it is addicting.

Wittenberg from Cornell
Wittenberg from Cornell

Back on the east coast we needed a new objective: The Catskill 3500. Having climbed a handful of these peaks during the winter, we were excited to be on the trail now that it’s warm and everything is green. Our most recent goal was Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains.

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Kaaterskill Falls in Winter

This winter I traveled to the Catskills, to show my girlfriend one of my prime stomping grounds when I lived in NYC.  With two days, I picked Kaaterskill Falls as one of my destinations.

Although I missed most of one day of excellent skiing, driving around the local hills with fresh eyes reminded me of how special these mountains really are, and I wanted to experience them in a new way.

One big hole in my hiking resume has always been getting to the top of Kaaterskill Falls. Anyone that skis Hunter regularly has no doubt seen the throngs clinging to the sides of 23A getting back and forth to the trailhead. I wanted to be one of those people cursing the trail up to this iconic spot.

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The Plattekill Plunge Army

I really like skiing lift lines. Something about them is just a bit more exciting to me. Maybe it’s dropping directly down the fall line, or maybe it’s the extra pressure from above to do your best.

Plattekill sign

On top of that, I’ve always had a thing for Plattekill’s Plunge. For starters, it’s a steep and narrow trail below a Hall Double. Plunge has snowmaking on its upper and lower third and is mostly all natural in the middle.

From the top, Plunge is often groomed about 60% of the way across starting from skier’s right. Down skier’s left 2 or 3 bump lines will form if given enough time. The middle — after the split with Giant Slalom — is almost never groomed.

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