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Catskill 3500: Picchu’s Peaks, 2009

Bob and I and the NYC Whippets packette have been tackling the 35 highest peaks in the Catskills. Our 2009 summits:

#9: Cornell Mountain, 3860 feet

Cornell Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, June 12, 2009

Cornell Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, October 11, 2009

#1: Slide Mountain, 4180 feet

Slide Mtn: Biski, Bob, Picchu, June 13, 2009

Slide Mtn, June 13

#11: Peekamoose Mountain, 3,843 feet

Peekamoose Mtn: Biski, Sesame, Picchu, Bob, August 7, 2009

#10: Table Mountain, 3,847 feet

Table Mtn: Picchu, Biski, Bob, August 7, 2009

#14: Wittenberg Mountain, 3,780 feet

Wittenberg Mtn: Bob & Picchu, October 11, 2009 (Picchu's Birthday!)

#6: Westkill Mountain, 3,880 feet

Westkill Mtn: Picchu & Bob, October 30, 2009

Picchu and Bob on Westkill: Even in the fog, we located the true summit!

Bob & Picchu on Westkill - a rare summit marker

#2: Hunter Mountain, 4,040 feet

Hunter Mtn: Bob and Biski, November 1, 2009

Hunter Mtn: Bob, Biski, Sesame, Picchu (front)

Shira and Sesame on Hunter

#27: Balsam Mountain, 3,600 feet

Balsam Mtn: Sesame, Biski, Bob, Picchu, November 20, 2009

Sesame on Balsam: "Peak, valley, it really makes no difference to me."

#29: Eagle Mountain, 3,600 feet

Eagle Mtn: Biski, Picchu, Bob, Sesame, November 21, 2009

Picchu and Bob on top of Eagle Mtn

Picchu: Pocket pup, hunting dog, hiking accessory or hand warmer?

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The Whippenberg

 

For Picchu’s second birthday Sunday we went on a mountain-climbing extravaganza in the Catskills. 

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu

Bob and the Birthday Girl, Picchu, on our latest Catskills adventure

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg

Bob, Biski and Sesame on the trail up Wittenberg, cliffy in parts

Destination: Mt. Wittenberg, the most massive mountain in the Catskills, so it is referred to as The Wittenberg.

We were wondering if a whippet pack has ever scaled it before, and in honor of our expedition, decided to re-name the mountain The Whippenberg.

Two nights, three day-long hikes, all meals and accommodations, um, carried by everyone but Picchu.

 

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa whippets

C-Biscuit and Sesame, sherpa dogs

 

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

Sesame and Biski look for a way around the rock-scaling, but there isn't one

 

Why the pack wears harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

Why the dogs wear harnesses/backpacks: "Ok, hoist them up!"

 

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop Wittenberg

The Whippenberg: Shira and the whippet pack atop the mountain formerly known as The Wittenberg

 

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain

Biski billygoating on top of the mountain: "Will a pack member with opposable thumbs please step forward to release my lunch!"

 

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

Shira, Sesame, Biski, Picchu: Brrrrr

 

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn

Bob herds the whippets on a side excursion to Cornell Mtn, overlooking Slide Mtn

 

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

The dogs huddling in the tent, shortly before moving into our double-wide sleeping bag

 

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

There's one in every pack who refuses to observe check-out time

 

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home

After two nights in arctic temperatures, Bob & the packette are ready to head home. Next stop: Rockettes audition!

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Tree Climbing with Dogs

Bob is a major tree climber. He climbs for work, then climbs for fun. If we pause on a hiking trail, it’s common to lose Bob to a nearby tree:

Bob disappeared into this oak tree in no time

Bob disappeared into this White Oak tree in no time

On hiking trips, this is a common scenario for us:

Bob: "There's an amazing view up here!"

Bob: "There's an amazing view up here!"

Shira: "Get back down here, the dogs are going nuts!"

Shira: "Get back down here, the dogs are going nuts!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dogs can’t believe he can go where the squirrels are, and they can’t come. C-Biscuit especially is determined – when Bob goes up a tree, she runs up the trunk a good 6 or 7 feet.

Where the squirrels are: Bob and C-Biscuit attempt a tree climb

Where the squirrels are: Bob and C-Biscuit attempt a tree climb

We’d love to do more climbing together, but who would whipsit?

Bob has roped me into tree climbing

Bob has roped me into tree climbing

Doubleback Harness from Ruffwear

Doubleback Harness from Ruff Wear

Bob’s idea is that the dogs should be harnessed and brought up with us. Until this week I’d thought that was a joke. But our favorite outdoor gear company for dogs, Ruff Wear, just came out with a climbing harness for dogs! Woo-hoo! 

It’s described as a “2000 lbf strength-rated harness built for lifting and lowering in extreme and exposed areas.”

Dog ready to rock climb in Ruff Wear's new harness

Dog ready to rock climb in Ruff Wear's new harness

There’s a video on the site that shows a lab being strapped into the harness – it has leg straps and everything – and belayed up a rock face. Bob’s nearly unheard-of response: “Let me buy it!”

Seeing as the harness is $125 (!) – the whippet who most wants to climb will need to come forward and make a strong case before we get one. And even a climbing harness won’t mean the dogs can follow Bob in every climbing situation:  

In addition to trees, Bob likes to tango with bridges

In addition to trees, Bob likes to tango with bridges

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Favorite Things: Ruff Wear Dog Harness

When we got C-Biscuit she would lunge, jump fences and even climb trees to go after squirrels. Whippets have long, muscular necks that are not fragile, but we still hated to see her buck and twist against her collar. So we looked for a harness. 

Web Master Dog Harness by Ruff Wear

Web Master Dog Harness by Ruff Wear

Most regular harnesses don’t fit the deep chest and tiny waist of a sighthound. Plus most are designed for dogs to be pulling forward, so when they back up they can escape. In a squirrel frenzy, anything is possible. Which is why the breeder said, “Please don’t put her in a harness. She can back up and be gone!”

We were then delighted to discover the Web Master Dog Harness ($50) made by Ruff Wear. The company says that “Houdini dogs that manage to get out of traditional harnesses will find it nearly impossible to escape the Web Master.” Which we have found to be true.

The back strap can be cinched around the whippet’s narrow waist, so they can’t back out of the harness. Additional straps go behind the front legs, around the front of the chest and between the front legs. Our girls have worn the harness on long hikes without any chafing. (C-Biscuit’s dog backpack by Ruff Wear has the Web Master Harness as its base layer.)

Picchu in her Web Master Dog Harness

Picchu in her Web Master Dog Harness - comfy, safe, secure

With a snug and secure fit, the harness also has a handle on top to lift the dogs up – that recently came in handy while climbing some steep rock faces on Slide Mountain. Its bright red color means it can double as a safety vest for off-leash hiking.

C-Biscuit has learned mostly to watch squirrels without lunging for them (although when especially tempted, she will still try to scale a tree or fence), so she doesn’t wear the harness anymore. Picchu, though, embarrasses us with her squealing and lunging, and the harness keeps her from potentially snapping her neck at the end of her leash.

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