Bryce Resort is making snow for slopes

Bryce Resort has kicked off its winter season and has begun to make snow, said Horst Locher, director of skiing at the southern Shenandoah County resort.

“All the snow-making right now is 24 hours a day until we get that sleet or rain on Saturday. We’re going all the time. We have the arctic air temperatures so we can go during daytime. Usually we do it at nighttime. It takes a while to build up the base on all the trails. You need at least one week of good snow making.”

Locher said that the process of making snow is complex and that slight variations in temperature can make the process more difficult.

“The snowmaking system is really producing snow at 24 degrees or less,” he said. “If we have 27-degree temperatures at nighttime, we probably make 4 inches of snow that night. If we have 14 or 15 degrees, we make a foot. And the snowmaking expenses are the same.”

Locher said a sound foundation is required for optimal snow buildup.

“You need to establish a good base,” he said. “(It) takes one or two weeks’ time but you don’t want to have a meltdown. You want to have the snow earlier one or two weeks before Christmas. The fresh snow is changing into old snow. It’s changing to be crystallized like ice cubes in your refrigerators. The old snow takes a long time to get into the melting process. … A pure snow base, it’s almost mandatory to have it for the Christmas period.”

The recent opening is good news for the 51-year-old resort, as last year’s opening date was much later, taking a big bite of business.

“Last year we opened Jan. 6,” Locher said. “Twenty-five percent of your business is in the winter season, so we lost a lot of business last year. We try to be open for Thanksgiving if it’s possible, but it just didn’t get cold enough. We can open up one or two trails with two cold nights. We didn’t have those real cold nights before Thanksgiving. Two years and three years ago we were open on Thanksgiving.”

Locher said that reservations are coming in steadily, but he said it’s a tad early for families planning their winter vacations.

“Our bookings are mostly online,” Locher said. “The phone is ringing, too, but it’s still a little early for the families.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.