Firsthand Report: Bryce Resort 4
By Mike Ross, Guest Columnist

Mother Nature needs to cooperate and bring some cold and snow to the Mid-Atlantic Region! Last week, as we all know, our “emotions were toyed with a bit,” as the resorts in our area were still in “decision mode” with regards to their opening dates. It’s so frustrating, not only for the folks who share our passion at those ski places, but for all of us who want to put on some skis or a board and hit the slopes.

Modern technology, and some fine work by the grounds crew at Bryce Resort in Basye, VA made skiing a reality on Monday, December 19, 2011, so our family was able to get our first runs in for the year. While far from perfect, with temperatures hovering from the high 40s to mid 50s in the highest elevations of this Shenandoah Valley locale, we were able to get our ski legs back and at least look forward to the rest of this season. Of course, the main problem was running into areas of grass.

Yes, I’m hurting a bit this morning, but am grateful that a few aspirin will take care of that. At least for once the wallet isn’t hurting, as $35 for 8 hours is a bargain, even if it only involved a few slopes being open. The grassy spots and the breaking of the “this is my next to last run” rule caused some issues, but the staff at this smaller ski resort worked hard to make skiing possible. Our family is thankful for their dedication.

Early season conditions at Bryce. Photo provided by Mike Ross.

The only two major slopes that were open were the “Redeye” and the “Bootlegger.” Ski Chair #2 was the only chair running. A posted announcement indicated that Chair Lift #1 will eventually be upgraded to a quad (next winter), which brought us smiles. The carpet tow to the bunny slope is now covered, and there have also been improvements made to food services. But how was the skiing?

If this was “actual winter,” there would be some acerbic comments thrown in here, but it was a slushy mess. The top part of Red Eye and Bootlegger both were fantastic, even with the fake stuff, but there were various points where slush and/or grass became quite a hazard. The melting slush slowed us all down and caused one significant wreck where the grass was, but the grooming done by staff at the beginning was A+ quality. There just was not much they could do with limited snow cover.

Still, it was worth spending a day here, even though the jackets came off and the skiing was more “March-like.” Bootlegger was the better of the two trails open, as you could catch air on a few of their buffs sticking out. But the weather conditions contributed directly to a lack of speed.

There were less than thirty people here, so lift lines were not a problem, and our family enjoyed the international staff. They were all friendly, and we got to meet people from the lands of Brazil and South Africa. All of them seemed passionate about their duties, and in between scanning our bar codes, they taught us a few new words to learn.

The dining area here remains spartan compared to fancier resorts, but the food menu has improved. The formerly weak coffee has been strengthened a bit, and the warm fire that is fueled by pallets was fully engulfed and provided “heat from the heat.” In the coming weeks, Bryce and other resorts will hopefully get some assistance from winter’s arrival, and the grass will be covered with growing snow bases. It’s amazing to look out at so many green slopes and think “I’d be skiing those at this time of year.” Yet, that will occur eventually, and when it does, our family will return here and elsewhere.

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Reader Comments

DCSki Reader
December 23, 2011
Little hills rule! Especially when they are the only game in town:-)
Nice write-up.
Mike Ross
December 23, 2011
Yes, they do, especially with the small crowds :). Thank you for your kindness, and let's hope that this weather will cooperate with us. Its time for winter, and some good times on the slopes.
January 12, 2012
Bryce Rocks! I ski there almost every weekend. It has a great race course and racing program, one of the best on the east coast. It also has a great beginner learn to ski or snowboard program. Its family friendly so everyone knows everyone. The staff is great. The food in the copper kettle is great. There are no crowds. Then are getting a new high speed quad lift which will be closer to the base and have a loading carpet. I created a website catering mainly to Bryce skiers/riders, (I am not trying to compete with DCski). I highly recommend Bryce.
Mike Ross
February 28, 2012
I am sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Yes it does. Gosh, what a undiscovered gem, and place of solitude it offers. Oh, those pine trees and the fresh air of the Shenandoah Valley. Isn't it great about the high speed quad? More trips down the slopes. Yay!!

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