Winter comes to the Catskills every year. Even while it is warm in New York City or other nearby cities, it can be below freezing in the Catskills. This makes ice climbing possible every year, sometimes as soon as early December and possibly through late March. Obviously, the actual time varies with each season. A normal winter usually includes one or two thaws. However, following each thaw, the temperatures usually drop again and with new moisture allow the formation of new and thicker ice.
An advantage of climbing in the Catskills is that the temperatures are slightly warmer here than in the climbing areas farther north. You do get the cold temperatures needed to form and sustain the ice, but the wicked cold of the far north comes only for a brief period. This allows you to enjoy the winter but not freeze your butt off at the belays or feel the terror of climbing hard, brittle ice that plates off with every swing. Instead, you get tempera- tures in the 20s to 30s and more plastic, sometimes even hero ice.
Below are the average temperatures for this region.
- November: Mean temp. 40; Avg. high 55; Avg. low 25
- December: Mean temp. 26; Avg. high 34; Avg. low 12
- January: Mean temp. 18; Avg. high 33; Avg. low 3
- February: Mean temp. 21; Avg. high 37; Avg. low 6
- March: Mean temp. 33; Avg. high 50; Avg. low 13
- April: Mean temp. 44; Avg. high 65; Avg. low 26