This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Gorlin-Crenshaw '13

The Quest for the Catskill 35

Two Vassar Outing Club leaders – Nathaniel Gorlin-Crenshaw ’13 and Steve Platz ’12 – are on a quest to become Catskills “35ers,” a title bestowed upon those who climb all 35 of the Catskill Mountains that exceed 3,500 feet in elevation. In a requirement unique among such lists, the Catskill 3500 Club standards mandate that four particular mountains (Slide, Blackhead, Panther and Balsam) must be climbed a second time during winter (resulting in a total of 39 summits). The club was born in 1962 with Vassar Outing Club member Nancy Locke ’64 among its charter members.

Gorlin-Crenshaw and Platz began their quest during Fall 2010. To date, fewer than 1,900 people have added their names to the list of successful “35ers.” To put that number into perspective, more people have climbed Mount Everest than have become full-fledged members of the Catskill 3500 Club. The duo has seven mountains under their belts so far. “If we managed to average two peaks a week, it would still take us almost five months to accomplish,” notes Gorlin-Crenshaw. With classes, jobs, and an anticipated Junior Year Abroad, “that’s obviously not realistic,” he admits. Even so, “I definitely plan to manage it before I graduate,” he says.

Although they are just one fifth of the way complete, the experience has already yielded highs, such as breaking trail in the Blackhead Range after a big snowstorm. Tree branches bowed down under the weight of the snow. “It felt like we were walking through a long tunnel to the top of the mountain, with light shining through the cracks and making these fantastic dappled patterns on the snow in front of us,” Gorlin-Crenshaw recalls. The experience has also brought with it lows, too. Later on that same trip through the Blackhead Range, the pair was tired, cold, and wet, with oncoming darkness, and still faced a five-mile march along the side of a road back to their car. (They managed to hitch a ride for the last two and a half miles.)

Yet, they remain undeterred. “It’s definitely been hard scheduling around homework and classes,” Gorlin-Crenshaw says. “Having said that, it’s been one of the best ways to get off campus and blow off steam after a week of working in a lab and listening to lectures.” – PB

February 2011

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