Berkshire East has earliest ski season opening

  • Berkshire East’s pre-season sale, held in the ski lodge, coincided with an early opening weekend this year. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Berkshire East’s season opening this weekend was about a month earlier than usual. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Berkshire East’s season opening this weekend was about a month earlier than usual. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2019 11:09:49 PM

CHARLEMONT — Unseasonably cold weather last week gave Berkshire East an early start on its snowmaking, allowing the mountain to start its ski season on Saturday.

Directors said it was the earliest opening Berkshire East has ever had.

Even better, the skiing conditions this weekend were reportedly excellent, even though only eight trails were open out of about 40 total. Because it has been so dry, the snow is fluffy, not crusty and chunky as early-season artificial snow usually is, according to Ed Ralicki, Berkshire East’s ski patrol director.

“The skiing is phenomenal. All powder,” Ralicki said. “These conditions are mid-season. You would expect to see this stuff mid-January.”

Other skiers on Sunday shared similar opinions.

“It’s excellent. The snow makers, hats off to them,” said Matt Bannerman, who lives in the Norfolk, Conn. area.

Bannerman said he and his family usually ski at Catamount, which straddles Egremont and Hillsdale, N.Y. But since Berkshire East bought Catamount earlier this year, each mountain’s passes are good at the other as well. And Catamount isn’t open yet, Bannerman added.

A more normal opening date for Berkshire East would be mid-December, said Gabe Porter-Henry, the mountain’s director of snow sports. The mountain biking season only ended last week, he said.

“It’s exciting to be able to go from one season right to the other,” he said.

The early opening also meant that Berkshire East’s pre-season equipment swap and sale — which happens at the same time every November — this year happened during opening weekend, on Sunday, the second day the mountain was open.

The pre-season sale featured new equipment at discounted prices from Competitive Edge, a ski shop in Easthampton. Berkshire East itself runs an equipment swap, where customers can trade and sell their old equipment. The swap is a popular way to buy children’s equipment, Ralicki said.

Berkshire East is only open on Saturdays and Sundays for now. Porter-Henry said more extensive hours are expected to begin closer to the holidays.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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