A winter storm warning was in full effect for the Catskill Mountains. This would most likely be our last chance to get a taste of winter camping and snowshoeing in for the season. We have done this before, headed out into the mountains to catch a wicked snow storm and ride it out, so this was nothing new for either one of us. Granted it is dangerous and taking some risk, but we were fully prepared and have all the proper gear and clothing, and our plan was mostly flawless. I do not recommend anyone do this unless you have experience, proper gear and clothing, and understand all of the risk involved. So, our plan was simple. We leave work from the city by 4:30 pm and meet up in NJ so we could leave Daves car and he can hop in with me, I have a Highlander and the AWD would be necessary to get out of dodge on Sunday morning. We get to the trailhead by 9 pm, eat dinner in the car.. 9:30 we night hike up the mountain. It ended up 10 pm.. we started our nighthike up Balsam Lake Mt (3730 ft). The plan was to hile up to the lean to (3450 ft) and make camp for the weekend.. the storm was expected to begin between 2 and 4 AM. We were to pitch our tents inside the lean to. This is prohibited under normal circumstances.. people please DO NOT pitch your tents inside the lean to. We did this at midnight.. when there was a blizzard in full force.. expecting 12 inches of snow and 60 mph+ winds with temperature at 0°F , -26°F with windchill. So yes, we pitched our tents inside the empty lean to when we arrived at midnight. If at any time someone else came along, we would have taken the tents down and moved outside or satyed in the lean to with our eVent bivies, no problems. Saturday morning the storm was hitting hard. We Ventured out about 1/4 mile to a natural spring for some water.. but it was risky as the storm was intensifying and white out conditions were beginning. After that, we knew if we needed more water it would be easy to melt snow. I used my trusted MSR Windburner stove for this trip.. it worked flawlessly. Just kept the cannister sin my tent with me wrapped inside my down pants and jacket.. i was able to boil my water for hot coffee.. breakfast, dinner and even melt some snow to fill my thermos with boiling water for the night. We basically stayed in our tents the entire time as it was nasty windy blowing in drom the NorthWest, and the shelter was facing direct West.. it was frigid out there and white out with blowing snow powder and viscous winds howling non stop from 6 am Saturday to 6 am Sunday. I spent a lot of time in my MSR Access 1p tent and it served me well. If I had to pitch it outside, It easily would have held up and kept me comfortable. My Neoair X-Therm large pad fit perfectly inside the tent and kept my cozy warm. I did use my MLD eVent Soul bivy inside the tent and that worked like a charm also. I used my 0° Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Hybrid quilt which kept me very warm and dry. There was plenty of frost build up on the inside of the tent walls and if i brushed them or flicked the top, it would snow down on me. I was not concerned since i had the bivy and that quilt.. better then my down quilt! At 8:30 pm, i did use my Windburner stove inside the tent to boil water for my dinner and overnight thermos. I dont recommend doing this especially inside that 1p tent with a large pad, but it did work just fine.. cautiously!! Be very careful doing this to not burn the tent, pop your pad or burn yourself!! It was that nasty outside and I did it and I would do it again in those conditions.. thats just me.. be your own person and decisions. Sunday morning was probably 10 or 15 degrees below 0F and it sucked to pack up!! That was the worst part of the trip for sure!! Horrible frigid cold blustery!! We had to break trail down the mountain in about 8 – 12 inches of snow which was beautiful. Due to the nasty conditions we did not hike up to the fire tower and decided it was best to stay put in the lean to and ride out the storm.. and Sunday was still overcast and cloudy when we began to hike out.. though the sun did start to shine a bit on our way out.. it did beging to snow again. At the car, the road was not plowed!! Thankfully i drove the Highlander and we were able to drive down the 10 mile backcountry road safely. Everything went as planned and we were safe. We knew exactly what we were doing and had a good plan. All of my gear worked except my mico spikes broke on Friday night hike up, as soon as i put them on. Thankfully they were not critical needed and they worked well enough for that hike up. If you have any questions or comments feel free… https://youtu.be/kMV-orrM6wU
Join Our Community
Become a Backpacking Light Member
Unrestricted access to all forums, plus the ability to post and start new threads.
Unrestricted access to all 2,300+ articles, gear reviews, skills, stories, and more.
Post new content to the community including gear swaps, reviews, trip reports and more!
Get unlimited access to all our online education (*Unlimited membership required).
Pack less. Be more. Become a member today!