New owners plan to give Catamount a big lift

COPAKE—The Catamount Ski Area, owned by the Gilbert and Edwards families for the past 45 years, has been sold to another family.

The $3-million deal on the 355-acre ski area off Route 23 that straddles the New York/Massachusetts border in Copake and South Egremont, MA, closed May 18.

Tom Gilbert and Rich Edwards, whose families have owned Catamount since 1973 sold the place to the Schaefer family, owners of the Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont, MA, about 110 miles east of Albany.

Aerial view of Catamount. Photo contributed

Though records of the transaction in the Copake Assessor’s Office say the 189 acres in Copake sold for $350,000 and the South Berkshire Registry of Deeds ( show the 167 acres in Egremont sold for $650,000, both the seller and the buyer told The Columbia Paper this week that the sale price was $3 million total. The purchasing entity is Catamount Ski Resort, LLC, a Massachusetts limited liability company.

Jon Schaefer, Berkshire East owner and general manager, explained that the recorded prices were agreed upon in order to move forward quickly on the closing. Berkshire East is eager to proceed with marketing and operations at the existing Catamount facility and did not want the place sitting around in limbo, he said.

Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Gilbert, who took over from their families and have been operating Catamount for the past 10 years, will stay on indefinitely as part of the new management team. Mr. Edwards is marketing director and Mr. Gilbert is general manager, Mr. Edwards said by phone this week. “I want to be in the ski business, I’m in no rush to leave.”

The impetus for the sale is to accelerate improvements and upgrades at Catamount to have an immediate positive impact on the guest experience.

It’s kind of bittersweet that we couldn’t provide the upgrades that Catamount needs,” said Mr. Edwards.

Attributing that lack of success to the weather, he said, “We couldn’t deal with the weather fluctuations, it’s a challenge, you can’t beat Mother Nature. It’s time to pass it on.”

The resources of the Schaefer family and Berkshire East will get upgrades and improvement projects done quicker, said Mr. Edwards, noting, “I’m happy for Catamount skiers and snowboarders.”

Catamount operations will continue without interruption.

Following “a decade-long investment phase and growth at Berkshire East, the Schaefer’s will bring to Catamount a clear vision for the creation of a dynamic year-round business and world class summer activities,” according to a press release.

Our experience at Berkshire East has proven that it is possible to transition a ski area in the Berkshires into a dynamic adventure-based, four-season resort with world class mountain biking and zip lining, while featuring one of the longest mountain coasters in North America, white water rafting, the top wedding venue… and adventure park.”

It is our intent to introduce most of these activities at Catamount within the next two years along with activities specifically tailored to the Berkshires. We also intend to renovate the existing main lodge and build a new lodge in the base area during the summer of 2018,” Mr. Schaefer said in the release.

He was also proud to tell The Columbia Paper that Berkshire East is the first ski area in the world to generate 100% of its power from onsite renewable energy: a 500 kWh solar facility and a 900 kWh wind turbine.

Asked if a hotel or condominiums are in Berkshire East’s future plans for Catamount–projects that failed to come to fruition at Catamount twice before–Mr. Schaefer said that while he would “never say never” Berkshire East’s current focus is on “trying to create new business with the facilities at hand; to maximize the existing facilities and footprint; to try to clean-up and maximize the opportunity in front of us there.”

Catamount, located at 78 Catamount Road in Copake with a Hillsdale mailing address and at 17 Nicholson Road in Egremont, is on Mount Fray in the Taconic Mountains.

Catamount’s 36 trails cover about 100 acres of terrain. Its vertical descent is 1,000 feet and its longest run is 1.75 miles.

Summer operations at Catamount, now underway, include an aerial adventure park with 12 self-guided tree-top courses including three zip line courses.

Noting the ski season is not far away, Mr. Edwards said, “We’ll be making snow in six months. Once we hit June 1 we’re on a tight schedule.”

Good things are going to happen at Catamount. Changes are going to come. Catamount will be a great place to ski for many years,” he added.

To contact Diane Valden email

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