The Devil’s Kitchen has a very high route concentration and an easy approach. Simple, safe toprope set-ups make this spot incredibly popular on nice weekends. The climbing, lighting and backdrop in the Kitchen (also known as the “Hellhole”) simply cannot be beat. The climbs here are challenging (WI 4-M8) yet never extreme, and there’s potential for some new routes on the upper cliffs.
There are a few ways to approach the Devil’s Kitchen. The best option is to descend the gully on the north side of the stone bridge on Platte Clove Road. Alternately, one could hike downhill from the cul de sac (where the road is closed in winter) following a trail along the top of the cliff. Once above the lower Devil’s Kitchen a single rope rappel will get you to the base of the climbs. Both of these options involve crossing private property. Currently the landowners are tolerant of climbers crossing their property to gain access to the climbs. It is imperative that we be respectful while parking and entering the Kitchen in order to maintain easy access. The third, and most complex approach (and suggested in Marty Molitoris’s Catskill guidebook) is to head down hill by the red artist’s cabin by the Plattekill and contour left above the lower cliffs. Use extreme caution on this approach. A slip on frozen dirt or snow here could kill you. Although this is the only approach across public land it’s not recommended due to the objective hazard. When in doubt use a rope. Climbers have died trying to traverse the frozen dirt slopes above cliffs in the Catskills.
The Upper Devil’s Kitchen
The first cliff one encounters as they descend the gully from stone bridge is the Upper Devils’ Kitchen. One of the steepest cliffs in the Catskills. Many of the lines remained unclimbed until the 2010-2011 season. The climbs are described from right to left. The first routes begin in the descent gully (on skier’s right) just below the stone bridge.
Stairway to Heaven - WI3-4. Climb the short, bulging flows on the wall of the descent gully. The lowest of these pillars forms a narrow, two-tiered WI4 route.
Devil’s Chandelier? - WI4+. (shown in orange).Techie climbing and easier when it’s super fat. This one has seen a lot of traffic this year. Deserves to be more popular.
KYBHT - M6 R. Climb Devil’s Chandelier until it steps right at mid-height. From here link small patches of ice and top out through horizontal root-covered roofs. Scary climbing.
Big Kids Shouldn’t Have Little Kids - M7+. (shown in pink) Outstanding climbing. It might be best to prehang the draws on this fierce short route. Start atop a rubble pile on the right end of the cliff. Climb straight up to the right side of a small free hanger. 6 bolts.
Erosion Control – M8. Heel hook your way directly left and then up the overhanging face to an alcove and the giant corner. Finish on the same hanging column as Big Kids.
9th Circle of Hell – M8-, WI5. (shown in green) Great climbing. Probably the most obvious big line up the cliff follows left facing corners trending right and up to the biggest dagger up there. Locate a black bolt in a V-notch about 8 feet up to find the start. Gear to 1′” plus fixed gear.
On a Hook and a Prayer – M8. (shown in red) Hard. Locate a short overhung thin crack 12′ up. Climb to this crack (3 gray bolts) and punch it up the long reaches above to gain a poor rest at the ledge where this route meets 9th Circle. Climb 9th circle and move left to a short right facing corner and the big hanger on the left. Fixed gear. It might make more sense to climb the start of this route to the finish of 9th Circle for a real rock/ice kick in the pants.
Snotcicle – WI4+/5. Awesome climbing that’s really exposed to the sun. This route gets a muddy stain from meltwater. Only consider climbing this route if it’s been cold for a long while. Climb the striking column of ice at the left end of the overhanging upper cliff.
Low Hanging Fruit - WI4 M7. An amazing short route which climbs some amazing rock. Instantly classic when it was established in 2011. Climb a blue pillar left of the snotcicle. Clip a bolt and crank through the roof using jugs or your tools. Stretch for a horzontal, fire in some gear and climb the knifeblade-width corner to the top. Pat yourself on the back. This one’s hard.
Lower Devil’s Kitchen
Continuing down from the Upper Kitchen will take you to the Lower Devil’s Kitchen. This is the most popular cliff in the area, and maybe the most popular cliff in the Catskills due to convenient toprope setups and fun climbing. This spot has a really high route concentration.
- Unnamed, Grade 4, 20m
- Dream a Little Dream, M6+, 20m, bolts – harder since a flake fell off below the crux
- Hell On Wheels, M7-, 20m, gear to 4″ – 1-2 bolts at the start
- Reincarnation, M4 WI4, 25m, gear to 2″, classic, easier than it looks, tough gear at times
- Unnamed, WI 5, 20m – short and fierce, if it were longer it would be grade 6
- 1st Corner, WI 4/4+, 25 m
- Unnamed, WI 4+/5-, 25m
- 2nd Corner, WI 4, 25m, finger size gear early/late season
- Unnamed, WI4 M6-, gear to 1″plus specter if crack is iced up, tough tooling with great sticks
- 3rd Corner, WI 4-, 30m from bottom corner small cams early and late season
- Smear, WI 5- M6, 30m with M6 start, bolts under the ice the entire way (mostly on right)
- Smear Direct, M7, WI 5-R, 30m, Corner to right leaning seam then thin flow to top, bolts, runout
- Purgatory, M5 WI 5-, 30 m, bolts and gear, classic sustained climbing
- Straight to Hell, M7, 30m, bolts and gear. good tooling across a steep face, tough exit moves