The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 3, 2013

ACE to make first whitewater run Monday

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

ACE Adventure Resort announces that its first whitewater trip of 2013 will launch Monday.

“March is statistically the highest water of the year,” says Dave Bassage, chief of staff at ACE. “Today the river is running just over 7 feet at the Fayette Station gauge and that’s about as good as it gets out here.”

ACE typically makes its first commercial river run in March, says Bassage, when the weather can still be unpredictable.

“What’s nice this year is that despite the cool weather forecast, people are still eager to go,” he says.

“We’re still below the maximum cutoff level, but it’s an awesome ride. That’s another reason people will come in March.”

The groups will make a “rapid run,” meaning they won’t be stopping by the side of the river to picnic on the rocks.

“This time of the year, we get out and focus on the whitewater,” says Bassage.

They’ll wear wetsuits and other protective gear for warmth and safety. Luckily for them, there’s a lot of good clothing available these days for wet weather wear.

The resort has scheduled trips throughout the month, but by no means are they booked. They can handle hundreds of people in a day.

According to Beth Gill, marketing director for the resort, the first season trip was chartered by a party of 14 from Davidson, N.C., that had attended an event in the autumn and decided to return for the spring. A second group from Muncie, Ind., is scheduled to launch Tuesday.

Bassage says the college groups were looking for a fun way to spend their spring break.

The early launch may herald a profitable summer for tourism in southern West Virginia, according to resort officials, who say the hallmarks of a strong whitewater season are in evidence.

Gill says the upcoming Boy Scout Jamboree and a networking boost at metropolitan travel shows are indicating a successful season ahead.

“The energy and interest in whitewater rafting was strong at the Cincinnati and Indianapolis travel shows, from which we just returned,” Gill said.

“People are already beginning to call and book trips from these two shows.”

July is typically the resort’s busiest month because school calendars allow for vacations.

But this year is even busier. Not only will the resort be taking loads of Boy Scouts down the river during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, they are also picking up bookings from people associated with the Jamboree like families and staff.

The resort is in the process of getting its summer staff in place. On Friday, Bassage interviewed prospective guides for the first April training.

Some are new, and some have been running the river for decades. Bassage himself is very much in the latter group.

“I’m excited to get out on Monday because this starts my 30th year on the river. ... It gets in your blood,” he said.

Established in 1981, ACE hosts 50,000 rafters annually on the New and Gauley rivers, hosts overnight guests and operates a mile-long zip-line course along the New River Gorge.

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