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Berkshire East - Dec 30 2012 rare powder day

bdfreetuna

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I've been skiing Berkshire East since a very young age. I raced there in high school. And I've been there a couple times in the last few years but really I have been heading north a lot more and passing up my home mountain.

For one thing they haven't been known for exceptional snowmaking and it can take a while for some of their terrain to open. And when it does, often it can be icy. At least this was Berkshire East in the past, much of the time. From what I have seen and heard it seems like they are working on major improvements to their snowmaking and trail clearing capabilities.

Which is a great thing because Berkshire East blows Jiminy Peak off the map for the winner of best skiing in Massachusetts. Jiminy makes more snow, they groom more, and they have fancier lodges and amenities.

Berkshire East on the other hand, relies heavily on natural snow (although they will tell you they make as much snow as anyone else, and I understand their snowmaking crew does work hard, but realistically when you compare Jiminy vs Berkshire East on this front the difference is clear). They groom only the trails they really have to, like the racing trail Competition and some of the easier ones. Their lodge is pretty basic but it's roomy, comfortable enough, the food has always been great and reasonably priced. It's just a no BS ski area with terrain that is way more interesting and also challenging than anything else in Mass.

So in Northampton here I saw about 5-6" of snow fall last night. I figured I could not go wrong at Berkshire East since this would just be in addition to the 18" they got in the last few days. Powder on top of packed powder is how the place is meant to be skied, but rarely ever is.

Arrived at 8:45 and skied a bunch of runs, maybe around 20 runs all day. Conditions were powder on top of packed powder, some dirt / rock patches on the steepest trails, and some machine groomed conditions on the most heavily trafficked trails. Mostly I skied bumps and powder all day.

Half of the woods were officially open and the other half were not. But they were all getting skied. The low angle woods were holding their snow beautifully and were untracked fluffy powder early in the day, making it the kind of day you could pick nice lines through them and let it sail. As the day went on the freshies were still to be found but you had to look for them. The steeper woods were more difficult due to the area basically having no snowbase before this last week, so you had to watch out for rocks.

I ended up putting a lot of scrapes in the base of my skis today but it's my fault due to going in unofficial woods this early in the season. Berkshire East has several marked woods/glades and also several that are not on the map. Ski Patrol there used to get upset if you skied these areas, but now I don't think they care anymore. Some of the woods at Berkshire East are actually really intense. I'm talking 15 foot drops, cliff areas, really tight and steep. That's why they're not on the map I guess. I skied the particular wood I am talking about today but it was kind of slow and careful going due to lack of snowbase, so I did not take a video of it.

Skied a fairly long day as conditions only improved IMO over the course of the day as the choppy stuff got more finely chopped. Skiing in the afternoon was great everything was medium size bumps really soft just really fun fluffy snow.

By the way winds were insane at the top of the mountain for a while today with really high gusts. I thought they might have to wind hold the lifts. But nope, today was a $$$ day for Berkshire East. They weren't gonna stop those from spinning!

Would I suggest someone check out Berkshire East vs spending a day in VT where they know will be awesome? I don't know, probably not. But if you live further south and VT is a drive, or you are someone who goes to Jiminy Peak anyway, I can't recommend it enough. There is actual expert terrain at the B-East (and usually expert conditions to compound it :) )

More fun with my Contour ROAM2 plus check out my insane video editing skills :-o

 

ScottySkis

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Very nice report. It's great when you have a local hill with lots of steeps and trees. I love those hills.:)
 

billski

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pretty variable conditions. Seems like some of those dirty trails could have used a groomer run or two to pack down the prior week's snow. I've hit it on a powder day, maybe 7 years ago. Lots of fun. Thanks for the video. says 1000 words.
 

hrstrat57

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Great, great post!

When B-east is going off it is very, very good. Good for you to hit it just right, well done.

Might have to get up there on Thursday.....
 

Hado226

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Sure was a great day at B'East. The middle of Jug always looks like that, stay far left to avoid the base eating rocks. Patrol doesn't mind folks skiing in the unmarked woods 'cause that's where we are usually skiing anyway.

Sent from my SCH-I510 using Tapatalk 2
 

bdfreetuna

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Good to see some B-East love around here!

Yeah Jug is typically closed and when it's open that's as good as it gets. It was mostly just leaves in the trail that looked like rocks in the video. Maybe a couple rocks ;)

Grizzly was the only trail that had so many rocks I was questioning whether it should be open. But I'm glad it was. My philosophy is if I want to ski it, I should get to ski it. I only have one pair of skis but they are well cared for "rock skis". I don't really mind the sound of "scccttttcchhhh" on rocks because they way I see it, rocks are better than ice, and that sound means I'm having fun.
 
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deadheadskier

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Nice!

great vid and soundtrack. who are we listening too?

One of these days I gotta hit the Beast when it's skiing well like that. Looks hella fun.
 

Newpylong

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nice, killing it bdfree. Love the snowplowers on the Jug, unreal. lol. Trail is always boney like that it seems , even after a dump.
 

bdfreetuna

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Nice!

great vid and soundtrack. who are we listening too?

One of these days I gotta hit the Beast when it's skiing well like that. Looks hella fun.

That's DJ Babu featuring Mos Def off one of the "Duck Season" LPs.

Yeah those kids on Jug really cramped my style there. I was sort of pissed I had to slow down cuz that was my last run of the day and I was trying to slay it ;)
 

bdfreetuna

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wow, the guys in that Vimeo video are straight killing it in the woods. Great footage of some of the more difficult woods and skied in style taboot.
 

Nick

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nice! I didn't realize the trees at Berkshire were so nice. Those look very nicely spaced so you can keep a good rythm going.
 

Bene288

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Nice vid! I've always wanted to check it out. I have some Umass friends who say nothing but good things about it. Looks a hell of a lot better than Jiminy. That's not hard to accomplish though.
 

bdfreetuna

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In addition to the glades and woods on the map, here is a map I marked up with the other wood skiing zones. Some of these zones are more "OK" to ski than others. #5 is extremely difficult and not even possible to ski certain parts of that area due to a large drop with trees not cleared. #1 is one of the most fun tree skiing zones anywhere, a real gem, but also can be very difficult especially in less than ideal snow conditions.

I don't know if I'm not supposed to do this but it's not like these tree zones are a big secret there or anything.

I just realized I put #3 in the wrong spot. It's between Liftline and Flying Cloud. Move it over one strip of trees to the left.
 

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Madroch

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Nice-- but No soundtrack at work.... vid looks good, almost headed to the beast yesterday when red chair died but opted for pico. Gotta put the beat on my list for this year.
 

skithetrees

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Nice-- but No soundtrack at work.... vid looks good, almost headed to the beast yesterday when red chair died but opted for pico. Gotta put the beat on my list for this year.

In a bit of irony, the the lift at Berkshire East is a former Magic lift.
 
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