Berkshire East: Another New Frontier

I got a third day on my Indy Pass last Saturday at Berkshire East in Massachusetts. It got me thinking: multi-resort passes are appealling to me for three reasons.

young skier

The economics are paramount, of course. The price, divided by the number of days you’re hoping to ski, is compared to the window price for all those days. For my Freedom Pass or Max Pass, I needed ten days of skiing to break even. For the Indy Pass, it’s five or six.

Second is skiing hills I know and love. That’s the hook. Last year, I had a Freedom Pass through my Plattekill season pass. The year before I had a Max Pass. I loved several of the Max Pass hills including Whiteface, Gore, Killington and Pico. Both passes felt like a safe purchase.

Berkshire East lodge

The third thing is exploration. Before the Max Pass, I’d never skied Stratton or Okemo. Last year I discovered Magic through the Freedom Pass. The Indy Pass has several mountains that I haven’t skied but have piqued my curiosity. I learned to ski at Jiminy and somehow had never made it to Berkshire East.

We arrived early. The lifts were turning and it looked like patrol and race kids riding up. We got our RF cards and were on the quad just after nine. The Summit Quad is a fixed grip with a conveyor belt loading station so it moves pretty quickly.

Berkshire East Patrol

My youngest got a real kick out of the conveyor. Sometimes these systems seem like more hassle then they’re worth but in this case it worked great. The Berkshire Lifties know how to run it and the regulars know how to ride it.

The boys wanted a warmup so we followed the “easiest way down” signs to Outback and Roundabout, two long easy cruisers on skiers’ left. This route deposited us at the bottom of the Wilderness Quad, another fixed grip. We rode that lift a few times to explore Exhibition and Lower Competition and a few other blue trails.

good conditions

We then made our way back to the Summit Quad to poke around the other side of the mountain. Surface conditions were pretty good, especially considering the recent weather challenges. Berkshire’s snowmakers obviously know what they’re doing.

The morning was overcast but temps were well above freezing so we weren’t dealing with any icing problems. I’d describe the snow as frozen granular and packed powder in the morning and it softened into mashed potato goodness as the day went on.

no easy way sign

Berkshire East is a family hill. There were racers and ski schoolers everywhere, both on the hill and in the lodge. Everybody seemed to know everybody else. Kids were everywhere acting like kids, but not in an obnoxious way. It was Christmas week, but I don’t think we stood in a line for more then five minutes at any point during the day. The atmosphere was laid back and stress free.

At 11:30 we broke for lunch. I bolted my chili so I could quickly check out the two open black diamonds, Upper Competition and Flying Cloud, before my kids finished eating. I collected the boys and led them to Upper Competition. Everybody had fun.

trenchable snow

By 2pm, the kids were shot so we headed back into the lodge. I wasn’t quite done so I left them for another run on Flying Cloud. One run turned into two, and then five. I hot-lapped Flying Cloud and Competition until 3pm. My thighs burned at the bottom of each run but the lift ride back to the top was just long enough for my legs to get ready for another go.

When I returned to the lodge, the boys didn’t seem to mind my extra runs. We lugged our gear back to the car and I punched in my parents’ address in Albany for a little post- holiday family time. The ride home was a beautiful drive through North Adams and a little sliver of Southeast Vermont.

NYSkiBlog is joining with The Indy Pass to bring exposure to independent mountains.

This piece is part of our effort. For more information on The Pass visit the Indy Pass website.

10 comments on “Berkshire East: Another New Frontier

  1. Berkshire East is a freaking treasure. Make sure to get back there with some natural… it goes toe to toe with any of the better known areas in the region on those steeps. Sounds like you figured this one out already. I wonder what’s next on the hit list… Happy new years.

  2. A local I know is friends with the owner of Berkshire East, I had never heard of it before until last month, used to ski Jiminy Peak and Brodie where they used to let people with Kelly in their name ski free on St Patricks day. I am hoping to check that place out thank you for the review!

  3. I grew up skiing Berkshire East and Magic. Back then Berkshire East or the BEast as it was called, was the original Beast, before Killington picked up that nickname. There used to be a T-bar going up the bottom half of Competition and a J-bar toward the western side of the hill. They’ve always had a good race program, lots of local colleges used to train there back in the day. As you can see and commented, it is a very well-run hill, hence their recent purchase of Catamount.

  4. Skied Berkshire East on Saturday. Love the vibe of the place and the relative low crowds. Get back for your second visit on the pass when they have plenty of natural snow. There is a lot more terrain there to explore.

  5. Nice piece and pix. Back in the days when I weekend-warriored to VT from Brooklyn, I always wanted to stop at B East along the way but it never happened (Ascutney was easier geographically).

  6. So glad this overlooked ski area is getting some attention. Nice write-up and focus on the variety that appeals to families and shredders. Hopefully you can make it back when the trees are open and the full potential of this mountain is on display.

  7. Finally got an indie pass this year. Up in NH over Christmas and got to check out Pat’s peak. Hadn’t ski’d there in 30 years. At Shawnee in PA today. Can’t wait to go back to our favorite place, Bolton Valley. We’ve been doing spring break there for the last 4 years and had perfect conditions each time.

  8. Thanks for the positive feedback as always, everybody. It really seems like this Indy Pass thing is working out.

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