Catskills Freeheel's home is Plattekill Mountain, New York's best-kept secret for great skiing in the Catskill Mountains. We are the only mountain in the Cats with Telemark equipment for rent - come visit and take a lesson!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Plattekill Work Day

Always a thrill to cut new lines every October at Platty. This year, it's a new glade between Plunge and Freefall. Was already pretty good in the midsection, now you can drop in from Wing It and make turns through some nice, steep and fairly open trees all the way down. Just need some snow. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Chalet

One of the things that makes Plattekill Mountain so unique is its location, tucked away in Meeker Hollow at the end of a narrow country road. To get there, you pass some sights of greater and lesser charm, depending on your perspective - including Cronk's Appliances, which looks a bit like the set of Sanford and Son if Fred Sanford lived in Petticoat Junction. And on a little triangle of land at the bottom of Upper Meeker Hollow Road, there sits a bunch of old office trailers. Something of an eyesore, I suppose, but I've always thought it added to Plattekill's charm. And it seemed to me that one of those trailers could be easily converted into a living space, a "little house," off the grid--a mountain chalet.

I thought about that every time I drove past those trailers. Finally, this past August my partner Kate and I with her niece McCala and my son Henry took a tour of the trailers. We found one that appeared immediately to be totally workable. 8 feet wide, 8 feet height, and about 30 feet long, it had three rooms that suggested a mud room, a living space, and a bedroom. The interior paneling -- one kind of wood made to look like another kind of wood -- was in near-perfect condition. The linoleum floors were dirty, but intact. The windows were functional; all but one had a screen. There were two openings in the walls for air conditioners, with one in just the right position to send a wood stove pipe out to a chimney.

This tour was followed by a few months of rumination, conceptualization, and hesitation. Could we really do this? Where would we put it? The first idea was to put it in the lower lot of Plattekill Mountain. However, not everyone could see the incredible possibility given its current exterior condition. The rough paint job it currently sports might be kindly called beige, but probably more accurate to call it baby-shit brown. Parking it at Plattekill was a non-starter with the top brass. There were other ideas, but these all led to the dead end of concerns about liability. We were just about to give up when I made one final push. Through a mutual friend, I contacted a farmer with some land in Roxbury and described our idea. She was one of those people that you meet in life who understand your vision and have the generosity and wherewithal to make things happen.

About a week later, on Halloween, a flawless autumn day, I handed a wad of $100 bills (I ain't saying how many) to a dude who towed it down the road to our spot behind the barn next to the chickens and pigs, in the shadow of the old silos, just shy of 50 paces from the compost heap where we would deposit the contents of our composting toilet. I wouldn't have dared imagine a more perfect site

A week after moving it, we enjoyed our first overnight and christened 'The Chalet' with whiskey, tunes, and so forth. There are some tweaks we need to make to the woodstove, the 'kitchen' area needs to be built, the composting toilet placed, and it needs to be furnished (a trip to Ikea took care of most of that). But it's inhabitable. Stay tuned to these pages to follow the progress.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Meat Me in the Mountains

Here's a simple way to make yourself a delicious, healthy and nutritious snack for a day touring the backcountry or for when you're sitting on the chairlift - beef jerky is the perfect protein-packed snack for taking to the mountains. Use the cheapest cut of the best meat you can afford (local and organic, if you're able). I use a convection oven to dry it. Maybe you have a food dehydrator. Or just do it in your oven set on 'warm'. Why would you buy beef jerky when it's so easy to make?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Skiing, Back in the Day

Still looking for that perfect Holiday gift for that skier in your life?  George Quinn, whom many of you know as our mild-mannered shopkeeper on the second floor of the lodge at Plattekill, has assembled a fabulous collection of photographs and stories from the early days of skiing in the Catskills in his latest book, Skiing in the Catskill Region.  The book is available for $20 in his shop. Stop by and pick one up on your next visit to Platty!

Here's Laszlo with young Nicholas back in 2003. 
Did you know that there was a log-cabin Ski Bureau located in the corner of Grand Central Terminal in the 1940's (upper left)?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

End of Winter?

Our notion of the seasons is based upon misty memories of seemingly distant childhood, itself constructed of myth and fantasy. Time was different then - a drive to the mountains felt like an eternity: how much longer? How long did winter last then? And how long is winter now, really? Our expectations, inflected with nostalgia, compete with the reality of climate change.

I found myself feeling down and out last week. I couldn't get over the feeling, more familiar in late March than mid-December, that the wonderful winter that we'd had was coming to an end. It didn't matter that that season had only lasted a week. When we took our first ride on the triple at Plattekill on opening day last Saturday, we were enjoying what felt like the depths of winter: light, fluffy powder and cold. It didn't matter that there really wasn't a base. Returning to Platty after 9 months, it felt as though we had never left.  
Chairlift? We don't need no stinkin' chairlift.
Switchback on Opening Day at Platty
Opening day was glorious. Day two was heavy and challenging but how wonderful to have the whole mountain covered. And 3 days of gorgeous cross-country skiing at Mohonk Preserve and Shaupeneak Ridge, 5 minutes from my house in Esopus. It had been several years since we saw such conditions down here in the Valley.  
Shaupeneak Ridge, Esopus

Mohonk Preserve
And then, spring came. Temps in the 60's and rain will wash away all of what Mama N. gave us and much of what, with great ingenuity and industry, was made by man.  

But don't worry - winter will be back this week. And it's still early. Think of last week as foreplay, an appetizer for the main course to come. How big will the portions be?  How tasty? The anticipation is part of the pleasure. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


In case you missed the big story of the day, Plattekill woke up to its first real snow on the ground this morning.  A beautiful sight, and well timed, too, because yesterday, a rag-tag band of intrepid woodsmen, led fearlessly by Greg Merryweather, set into the wilds of Plattekill to carve out new paths through the trees.  We gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, 'earning your turns.'

So where are Plattekill's glades? Oh, like I'm gonna put that on the internet.

Laszlo sets us loose.  

Won't that be fun?

Greg Merryweather (left) and Wayne Ford making it nice.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No Words

There are no words for the most extraordinary experiences in our lives.  So here are some pictures from the past couple of weeks.  If you missed Telefest at Plattekill, next year's will be bigger and better.

Managers, Friends and Family Dinner.  Nice Surprise!

At the Summit, Getting Ready for the Torchlight Parade

Another Scenic Tour Through the Wilds off the Back of Platty

At Gore, "Barkeater Glade"

Tele Ho!  Telefest 2013 at Plattekill

Looking up Freefall, End of Day
Looking Down Freefall After the Sun Came Out

Do You Know Where to Find Platty's Woods Runs?