{child_flags:featured}An uplifting experience

{child_byline}By Mike Walsh, The Berkshire Eagle {/child_byline}

PITTSFIELD — Early on Monday morning, a sound emanated from the southern edge of the city limits — a few beeps and a low, steady groan that brought smiles to the faces of skiers and snowboarders all over Berkshire County.

For the first time this season, Bousquet Mountain’s new chairlift to the summit was available.

One of those grinning folks was the mountain’s new general manager, Kevin McMillan.

“It feels great,” McMillan said from his office Monday afternoon. “Looking out the window now at both chairs running, this is what a ski area is supposed to look like. People are happy; they’re able to get to the whole mountain.”

It’s a day many in the county were starting to think might not happen at all.

After Mill Town Capital purchased Bousquet in May and set about the daunting task of renovations, excitement started building. New ownership took down the old yellow double lift that previously took skiers to the summit. In mid-November, a helicopter installed posts for the new triple chair, and anticipation soared.

Bousquet even painted a single triple chair that familiar shade of yellow to keep alive memories of the mountain’s history.

The slopes opened Jan. 9, but as riders looked to the right off the blue double chair, the new triple stared back, stagnant and bare. The holdup was an engineering error that resulted in some of those towers being misaligned.

“Some long days and late nights,” McMillan said of what became about a four-week delay.

“It was a Herculean effort and a lot of coordination,” he continued. “It’s pretty amazing, actually; we had a crisis meeting here about five weeks ago. We had to make a decision about whether to abandon the chair for the year and do it over the summer, or keep pushing forward and see if we could pull off a miracle.”

In what has been a winter season defined by obstacles, the Bousquet team chose to push forward. With February school vacation on the horizon, the time crunch was on. The week before was spent getting in some final test runs.

Then came a special convening of the Massachusetts Recreational Tramway Board on Saturday night, after a load test. State inspector David Holmes spent a full day at the mountain, watching the process unfold and tallying his final checks.

“It came right down to the wire,” said McMillan, who noted that Bousquet is close to selling out lift tickets for much of the week, but some still are available.

“The summit is just beautiful,” he said. “We spent a lot of time, money and energy landscaping and changing the terrain on top of the mountain. And it’s really nice for people to be able to see that.”

And, finally, to ski that.



Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6240. On Twitter:


Sports Editor

Mike Walsh is sports editor at The Berkshire Eagle. He's been with The Eagle since 2017. Walsh also authors the NENPA-winning Powder Report column. He's an avid snowboarder, runner, homebrewer, and he used to play a pretty mean sousaphone.