View Full Version : Friday Mtn hiking suggestions-Catskills

Jay H
12-21-2004, 09:02 AM
Gathering some info here on Friday Mtn in the catskills. Cliffs are on the southern side while the famous friday slide is on the NE. The usual route from Maltby Hollow goes to the pass between BC and Friday, the land off Moon Haw is private property. That I do know.


How do I get permission from the land owner to go via the land. I'm told he's a nice guy and I've hiked from Moon Haw before but bushwacked to Wittenberg so we basically just went around the private property.

Told the spruce/bd between BC and Rocky is very serious! Would I be nuts to do this in a full backpack? Contemplating doing Friday, Balsam Cap, camping somewhere around BC, then doing Rocky/Lone the next day...


John Graham
12-21-2004, 09:20 AM
Climbers seeking to climb Balsam Cap and Friday from the Schultis property do not need permission to cross their land. They allow people to park on their land, leave a note in the window saying Catskill 3500 Club. Just after crossing the bridge on the driveway, take the left fork and park immediately on the right. Do not park in the area just in from the road on the right. If you cannot get in to the designated spot, because of snow or mud, you will have to park on the road. Do not block the road. The best thing is to continue down the road ½ a mile to the brown State
Land Access sign. From here, you can either scramble right up the steep bank ( the grade eases after the first nasty pitch), or walk back down to the Schultis driveway.

At the Schultis driveway, there is a route marked faintly with green ribbons nailed in trees. It turns right at the fork after the bridge, past an old trailer, and angles up the ridge after the houses. The wood road leading up to the herd path is just off to the left of the crest of the ridge. If you find yourself on a heavily used one, you are probably on the road to the cabin. If you come to where the road turns sharp right to the cabin don’t approach the cabin. You can traverse left across the ridge and will hit the road leading to the herdpath. If you have climbed straight up from the State Land parking area, you will reach the crest
of the ridge about here, give the cabin a wide berth. If coming up from the main road, you would do better to aim just a little lower, you will be able to pick up a road and you won’t have to climb ledges.

As you approach the state land you will enter a grove of hemlocks. If you followed the crest of the ridge, you will already have been climbing through hemlock for a while before it levels off and the hemlock ends. As you enter hardwoods you will see a steep band of ledges ahead. The main herd path climbs to the left of these ledges, remaining just below the steepest slopes as it angles up toward the Balsam Cap-Friday col. It is marked by old ax blazes, which have grown over, at eye level.

There is a fainter herd path that heads up the ledges on the right side. If you take this route, you will commit yourself to climbing a series of steep ledges, with a herdpath not always visible. If you take the obvious route, you will be channeled onto the herdpath. This route is hairy, but fun. I wouldn’t recommend it for coming down.

If you stay on the main herdpath, it will lead you up to the col on the Balsam Cap side. It gets very faint
as you approach the major band of cliffs, just angle up to the major cliff band. If you go to Friday first,
leave the herdpath about a hundred yards below the cliffs. Climb straight up and look for a cleft in the ledge that climbs to the right. If you find yourself faced with a rock climb, you are in the wrong cleft, and probably should back out, swing right and try again. The cleft you’re looking for angles evenly up to the flat ledge above. This ledge will have beech trees and be about 20 yards wide. Work right , about 200 yards along this ledge until it peters out, then climb straight up about 300 yards for the summit. The
canister is on a Spruce covered knoll, on the south side of a tree.

For Balsam Cap, climb back down to the major cliff band and at the cliff base, work to the left and pick up a herdpath that leads you through the thick Balsam into tall trees. From here, just go up, swinging a little right to miss the worst of the spruce and ledges. When it levels off for over 100 yards, you have probably reached the summit plateau. The canister is on the east side of a Beech tree, in a thicket of Alder.

This is a tough place for an overnight hike, especially in winter, but it is done. If you do go for an overnight, be sure to indicate that in a note on your window, so that people don't start looking for you. It might be better to park at the State Land Access sign if you are doing an backpack.

If you want to go for Rocky from Balsam Cap, I would recommend coming back down to the col, where the herd path peters out in the tall spruce. If you bushwack down from this spot, you will break out of the spruce into the hardwoods after a couple of hundred meters, and be able to see Rocky right in front of you. Take a bearing on the ridge straight ahead on Rocky and follow it right up to the summit. You could camp in the col between Rocky and Balsam Cap, it is open in this area and you could leave a camp here and be able to find it again. If you take the direct route between the summit of Balsam Cap and Rocky, you will be in thick spuce the whole way, clambering up and down ledges all too frequently. Climbing Rocky southwest up that ridge will be open longer and involve less ledges.

Jay H
12-21-2004, 10:11 AM
Thanks John! When we parked to do Witt. We parked I believe at a state land sign just after Moon Haw Road crosses Maltby Hollow Brook on a bridge. Then we walked over the bridge to get to the east side of the brook and followed a woods road til it became a sparsely blazed yellow path to the col between Cornell and Witt.

I presume Shultis property's driveway has two stone pillars and an iron gate beween it? I think we drove up there til we came to that gate and then turned around and found the little pulloff by the bridge that we parked at.


John Graham
12-21-2004, 10:44 AM
No, the driveway with the pillars belongs to property owners who do not allow hikers on their land, you would have to bushwack around their property to get on the old washed out road that leads up between Cornell and Wittenberg. There are two State Land Access signs. The one at the end of the road, near the pillars, is a snow plow turn around. You should park at the one about 1/4 of a mile up the road, a pullover on the right side. Some people follow the brook up from this lot and ascend the "slide" on Friday this way. I never cared for this approach, it's just a long, tedious bolder field with no views and no interesting climbing.

12-31-2004, 02:45 PM
Actually, as of this writing there IS no house at the end of Moon Haw Road. It has been entirely demolished. There are also no "keep out" signs or gates anymore. This is a temporary state of affairs. A huge house will be built there in the next year or so.

I gently disagree with my friend John about the slide. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the only currently active slide in the Catskills. It has not yet revegetated and continues (on the lower section) to erode. The views towards the ledges on the headwall over Wittenberg Brook are headily vertiginious. There's also a good view at (?) 2900 ft., a couple of hundred feet off and to the left of the upper portion of the slide. Don't have a map in front of me, but I believe the USGS map shows this large ledge. Beyond it, one climbs steeply again to the summit.

On another matter, does anyone know if there is continuous passage between the sparse ledges on the previously mentioned headwall? I've looked through binoculars and am still undecided, but I have been told that ascent has been made this way occasionally. Not a winter route--indeed, even Cornell's ridge approaches the technical in winter. The Dutchman's Path is, however, generally negotiable although it can be shatteringly exhausting towards the top in deep powder. I nearly blew a gasket there one year!