On December 21, before the sun rose over the icy peaks of the Catskill Mountains, Phil Vondra, 53, from New Paltz (via the UK), took the snowy trail from Denning Road to Claryville where he would begin his ascent of Table Mountain. For most people, deciding to go out on a winter’s day and trek a 3,825-foot peak would be a tall order. For Vondra, a peak was just the beginning.
What Vondra aimed to do was hike all 33 Catskill peaks that measure 3,500+ feet, in winter, and in less than four days – a feat that had never been done before. (There are 35 Catskill peaks at 3,500 feet and above, but two are on private land that is now closed to the public. Climbers now only have access to the 33 highest.)