Berkshire East Plans Two New Lifts in Two Years

A public hearing is scheduled for next month regarding a proposal by Berkshire East Mountain Resort to install a base-to-summit high speed quad this summer and another new lift next year. The first lift would run up the Competition slope parallel to the existing Mountain Top triple and Summit quad. It is expected to be a Leitner-Poma detachable quad rising 930 vertical feet in about 3.2 minutes. The plan calls for the Mountain Top Poma triple to be removed and relocated to an expansion area on the northeast side of the mountain in 2024.

This is huge news for Berkshire East, which operates a fleet of four fixed grip chairlifts mostly cobbled together second hand from other mountains. In addition to being the first detachable chairlift at Berkshire East, the new summit lift will also be the first Leitner-Poma detachable in Massachusetts and the 10th chairlift built by the Schaefer Family at Berkshire East and Catamount over the past 20 years.

The Town of Charlemont’s Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the permit application on March 2.


22 thoughts on “Berkshire East Plans Two New Lifts in Two Years

  1. carletongebhardt February 20, 2023 / 2:38 pm

    Interesting alignment. I’m not sure how from this lift you would be able to ski trails on the lookers left like Mohawk or Big Chief. It seems like they should remove the triple and run it up that alignment, as that can access everything on the mountain.

    I do hope that when they reinstall the triple, they upgrade it so it can run faster. It definitely runs slower than the fixed grip quad next to it. I did ask the last time I was there, if it was running full speed, and they said it was. Also it has weird foot rests – I can’t get my feet onto the foot rests…..


    • Noah February 20, 2023 / 4:36 pm

      If you look at the lift profile, not the concept map, you will see that the new lift ends on the small hill above the patrol shack, (that dang pedal to back of the shack) so actually above the terminus of the existing quad. I believe there had been a lift on that alignment previously, just not running all the way to the summit and it appears that only minimal clearing is required.


    • Colton Kazmierski March 13, 2023 / 6:28 pm

      If they replaced the mt triple with their new detachable, they would not have an operable summer lift for zip lining and mountain tours, also regarding the 24-25 season they are moving the mt triple to a new area to access all new terrain. If they replace the mt triple with a new detachable they would have to remove it and store it somewhere, that would be less economical and practical for the resort. The real placement for the lift is going to be right where the ski patrol station is, regarding that I don’t know where it will be moved. The only two trails that will require some skating are Upper Minnie Dole and Upper Flying Cloud. The new lift will work directly with the current lift to feed two lifts from one gate.nWith the current lift being at 2400 pph and the new lift being about 1800 pph. With one gate feeding two lifts, 4200 pph is amazing. The map is a little inaccurate and confusing but I just wanted to reply to you message. thank you for reading!


  2. ne_skier February 20, 2023 / 3:35 pm

    Unless more is revealed about why they chose this alignment, it comes off as poorly thought-through. Questions aside about why Berkshire East wants or needs a detachable quad for a 7-minute fixed-grip ride time, the better plan here would have been to remove Summit, install the new lift there, and move Summit over to the expansion area.
    -As it is, Mountain Top seldom runs. With the detachable installed, it’s unlikely that Summit’s quad capacity will be needed here. The detachable and the triple would do just fine here.
    -Whichever lift goes into the expansion area will be that area’s only lift. It makes far more sense to install Summit there, a basically-new quad, instead of Mountain Top, a soon-to-be 40-year-old triple chair.
    -Probably the greatest issue with this plan is cutting the new liftline. Instead of using the liftline of whichever lift is headed over to the expansion area, the plan is to run the lift up Competition to the summit. Given the Schaefers’ record on tree clearing (turning much of Bousquet into a big bowl during the Yellow replacement and cutting down trees separating 3 lower mountain runs at Catamount to create a giant mega-run during the quad install), it’s likely that the trees downhill of Minnie Dole will be taken down, as well as much of the forest at the summit to make room for the terminal and more skiers. Aside from any cosmetic concerns, this could turn into a permitting hassle that would delay this project, just as it had been in 2021.


    • Noah February 20, 2023 / 4:44 pm

      Definitely seems more aimed at the bike park than ski operations. By going detachable for summer operations they can theoretically cut the ride time from 12 minutes to 3, as well as double the hourly capacity. I really doubt Thunder gets bad lift lines in the winter, but for summer ops, even with both the triple and quad running 30 minute lift lines aren’t uncommon. Once this is built, can we finally get a flow trail that actually flows well to the Gronk/ Hawleywood intersection?


    • Shane Sullivan February 20, 2023 / 5:23 pm

      I would say that installing a detach is what moves any mountain into the “big leagues” so to speak, for both winter and summer ops. Personally, it puts Beast on my list for bringing friends that our new to skiing. It’s the same reason why Crotched installed the Rocket, without it the mountain is not as attractive to school groups, younger audiences, etc. If you want to really compete, you need to have the same/similar tech as the big resorts to some degree. Now if they came out and said we’re installing a D-Line 6 with heated bubbles….


      • skitheeast February 20, 2023 / 8:49 pm

        This comment is spot on. The Fairbank Group has demonstrated the value a single detachable lift brings to a resort all over New England. It is a smart move, and I am just surprised they are not snagging a used lift given their history and all of the ongoing upgrades/replacements around the country.


    • Jon Schaefer February 21, 2023 / 11:03 am

      Hey there NE_Skier, as the guy tasked with thinking all of this through, i would like to take a second to mention that this was deeply thought through. And to give you credit and to say that yes, you have good thoughts about some of the considerations of this alignment. These were definately factored into our calculus but we still ended up with this new plan. Your ideas have a lot of merit and are good, but there are other considerations at play that override those concepts. I will get to it soon in an extended blog post about it and some press additional press here soon enough – but good points.

      In terms of others thoughts. The new lift will put skiers right onto Outback, Mohawk, Thunder, Big Chief, Flying Cloud and allow for new access into Competition, Grizzly, Umass, and Riva Ridge. Those trails will have much more unfettered access.

      In terms of the flow trail – noted. Always a work in progress. In terms of biking and why not remove one of the other two lifts this year – we can’t do that to our bike park customers and look for ways to optimize the resort for winter guests as well – which this 2.0 version of the top 100′ of Berkshire will do…

      On a personal note, I am on that hill everyday, I hike comp almost daily, I am in and around the summit more than just about anyone and have worked around that mountain my entire life. The layout of this lift will create a better resort. It will be fun, as one of the other commentators said, it will put us ‘into the big leagues’, it will help the biking ride times, and it will open up our terrain in a way that should have been done since the first day the resort was opened – I’ll glady give any of you a tour if you want to stop by this winter.

      Liked by 5 people

      • ne_skier February 21, 2023 / 12:37 pm

        Thanks for the response! Don’t mean to armchair quarterback you guys lol. Not too familiar on the logistics of the mountain bike ops you guys have going on over there and it wasn’t brought up to me until after I commented that load and unload speed is a huge factor in running a lift for mountain biking.

        Would love to drop by if I lived closer, my nitpickings aside you guys have done awesome things to your three mountains. Excited to see this take form.


      • Mike B February 21, 2023 / 1:48 pm

        Given this response (many props for weighing in here BTW), is it fair to say that the map posted in this article is slightly inaccurate as far as the location of the summit terminal for the new quad? Seems like it will go higher than the map is showing.

        In a similar vein, is the location of the summit terminal for the old Mountain Top triple supporting the new pod rendered correctly? Looks like it’s going to be to the East and somewhat downhill of the windmill, which makes me wonder what that egress back to the front side will look/feel like.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jon Schaefer February 21, 2023 / 3:44 pm

          I’m on my iPhone, so it’s hard to see the detail… that layout is definitely not the final version that got sent to the engineering team. There ARE continued variations – which is why I never even looked at it before you mentioned it, “I knew” it was a placeholder.

          The other lift is a good approximation, but not accurate. The viewing perspective of that painting puts the return terminal not far from the turbine, but if you were to lay it out it would be 1/4 mile from where it will actually go which is in between Mohawk and the turbine (the other side of the turbine) but Peter did a good job.

          Ne_skier, I’ve got some space in my back for a few more arrows! Just joking, come visit sometime.


      • Wiley Feiger February 21, 2023 / 3:43 pm

        I really appreciate the great response, and I greatly admire the fact that the Schaefer family has run Berkshire East quite well.

        With that said, If you do need help with mapmaking, spatial analysis, or planning (so you don’t end up cutting a zillion trees) with these new lifts, I am happy to help out as an unpaid Geographic Information Systems (GIS) intern. I have several years of professional experience with ArcGIS Pro and would love to help you plan and map out this expansion. Please reach out if you want an unpaid intern to help you analyze stuff and make maps.

        -Wiley Feiger


      • Noah February 21, 2023 / 6:10 pm

        Never expected the man himself to make an appearance here. With that said, I think I should reform my statement to actually be constructive. It’s not that Jakes or Blue Pulaski are bad trails, they just don’t have the same level of enjoyment as the other trails in the park. Looks to be some pretty awful digging conditions with bedrock that close to the surface, but it would be really fun to have more of a cat and mouse style flow trail down to that intersection. Also, some stone and concrete work on Back of the Shack to fill all those perfect wheel catcher holes would be appreciated as well, it just feels sketchy getting nearly thrown OTB every 50′. Your crew has done an immaculate job keeping the perfectly shaped Gravity Logic lips on Gronk and Hawleywood perfectly shaped, so big kudos for that. Might just have to become a season passholder once the new lift goes in.


        • xlr8r February 21, 2023 / 8:10 pm

          Jon thanks for the insight. Wish a lot more ski area managers were as open as you are. The new HSQ will put you into the big leagues, just don’t cut down too many trees to put this new lift in.


  3. BE Skiur February 21, 2023 / 9:40 pm

    Hi Jon thanks for your insights. Will clear cutting of the trees between Liftline and Comp be necessary for this project ? As a longtime Berkshire East skier it would be sad to lose Liftline as a separate trail.


    • Jon Schaefer February 22, 2023 / 8:46 am

      Lift line will be preserved. Trees will be cut at the summit, but it will fit. That being said, the woody adlagia and beach blights are doing a number on that forest. We have been treating trees and will continue to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jeff Bassett February 26, 2023 / 7:44 am

        Jon, I’m glad to hear that the lift line will be preserved. That tree line between Lift Line & Competition also helps protect the summit quad on windy days. I hate to see any of the trees in the woods behind patrol summit cut down but, knowing your family’s history of thoroughly researching & planning a project I believe it will be done right with the least amount of cutting. I would love to take you up on your offer of a tour.


  4. Dan Etman February 22, 2023 / 8:04 am

    Peter, calling Berkshire East’s current lifts “cobbled together” is a bit harsh. The Summit lift was a new Skytrac quad, with a Chairkit loading conveyer, when it was installed. The Mountain Top Triple is a quality used lift that was professionally installed and upgraded. I don’t know the installation details of the other two but I have worked on them. They seem to be pretty typical relocated lifts.


    • Anthony March 24, 2023 / 12:16 pm

      Berkshire East takes great care of their lift infrastructure. Most of the time, professionally relocated lifts are a great option for smaller ski areas however, when things go wrong they become very expensive. Look at the experience management had getting the new glade triple at catamount operational and the Black chair at Magic is still not running.


  5. liftnerd February 22, 2023 / 5:56 pm

    It’s like a new Competition T-bar, but obviously not a T-bar….


  6. Skier27 February 23, 2023 / 12:19 pm

    The Wilderness quad replacement should be a priority in my opinion. This is an extremely popular area of the mountain, particularly for beginners and Intermediates. The lift is very slow and often is not running or stops during operation. I hear many people grumble about this old lift.


  7. MichaelJohn May 23, 2023 / 10:59 am

    This is really exciting news. Thanks for all your work Jon and team. It is going to really do incredible things for the bike park in the summertime and really set you guys apart from the other mountains, and allow for more growth without the huge weekend lift lines. Hopefully some new singletrack DH trails are in the plans as well, and continue to follow this development!


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