The first major winter storm of the season recently blanketed the ski areas of the Berkshires in a foot of snow. Even more snow is on the way, which means the ski season is in full swing in Western Massachusetts. With all of the excitement for the new year, four fantastic family ski areas in the Berkshires are gearing up with new developments and fun events for the 2013-2014 ski and snowboard season.
In the southern part of our region, Catamount has bulked up on their upper mountain snowmaking with the addition of a new pump to deliver more snow when Mother Nature doesn’t. Skiers and riders will also notice the addition of two new trails at Catamount. Bobcat is a new beginner trail added to the Meadows Area — a section of the mountain which is home to a cluster of beginner and intermediate terrain that’s perfect for learning. And for advanced skiers, Catamount has added their second double black diamond trail, Lynx, which parallels Catapult, one of the steepest trails in the region. “Lynx is about 30 to 40 feet wide and steep. It’s the perfect trail for those days after a 15 inch dump of snow,” said Catamount’s Marketing Manager, Rich Edwards, who has been been cutting the trail and removing rocks by hand since august to get the trail ready for expert skiers, now chomping at the bit.
In Pittsfield, Bousquet ski area has been hard at work ramping up for the season. The family day area is planning events of all sizes this year, highlighted by their St. Patty’s Day Celebration with Fireworks on March 15, 2014. The annual event draws skiers from around New England and New York to compete in the pond skim, which challenges skiers and snowboarders of all ages to skim across an open pool of water without sinking. From cookie hunts for kids, to drink specials at one of the best bars in ski country, there is truly something for everyone at the Bousquet St. Patty’s Day Celebration. Once a part of the the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, Bousquet’s Cardboard Derby race has grown into an event all its own and March 22, 2014 will see scores of individuals and teams sliding down a snowy slope on their improvised, and elaborately designed cardboard sleds.
One of the biggest infrastructure developments in Berkshire ski country this year is the much anticipated lodge expansion at Berkshire East ski area. The 1,200 square foot addition will include additional food service and seating. Berkshire East also spent the summer bulking up their snowmaking, nearly doubling the power behind their already 100 percent snowmaking coverage.
Jiminy Peak added to their snowmaking capacity as well, with a new pump house that will push a third more water to its massive snowmaking network. Jiminy will also be introducing a new Terrain Based Learning program, which incorporates entry level terrain park features and progressive teaching into their ski and snowboard lessons and programs. The terrain features help improve balance, minimize falls, and add a whole lot more fun into the lessons. With more fun comes more active skiers and riders — the method has previously increased the skier conversion rate (skiers and snowboarders who become avid participants in the sports after their first lesson) from 15% to 45%.
Whether you’re looking for the best snowmaking, lessons, events, or terrain, the ski areas of the Berkshires are working to deliver amazing winter experiences. Discover big mountain skiing and snowboarding this winter, only two hours from New York City, in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.