From the first moment that Peter saw snowflakes flutter down, he was enchanted by the winter. After years of nagging at his parents, they finally took him on winter sports at the age of 10. When skiing went smoothly, snowboarding became the next goal. From the age of 16 he went out with friends. First the French student destinations Les Deux Alpes, St. Sorlin and Val Thorens. Then Andorra, Zillertal and Brixental.
When his study of Economic Geography entered the final phase, Peter started thinking about a snow-rich sequel. He was allowed to write to the state of Washington in the United States to write his thesis. To be able to stand in the snow himself, he chose climate change and its influence on ski areas as the subject. From the University of Seattle, Peter often moved into the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains. To conduct interviews in ski resorts but of course also to make the necessary descents.
After his diploma he could finally do a season in the snow. He spent a winter in Königsleiten and then in Scandinavia. For Snowboarder MAG, Peter made a tour in a converted van. He wrote articles about unknown ski resorts in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This was not only about snowboarding but also about the difference in culture and winter sports experience.
In Kyrgyzstan, Peter sold his converted van. The Kyrgyz buyer (Maksat) became his best friend. Maksat rented skis from a sea container of 20 years old. He wanted to use the purchased van to bring skis from the city to the ski area (15 km away). Exporting the Dutch van took the necessary time. In the meantime, Peter spent a lot of time with Maksat’s family and friends. He got to know the ins and outs of Kyrgyz life. When he returned to the Netherlands, he wanted to support the local skiers.
Peter took a job at Bizztravel in Groningen. As a buyer for winter sports, he spent enough time in the snow. He also met many entrepreneurs from the winter sports industry. In this way, Peter collected material for Maksat in Kyrgyzstan. Skis, snowboards, clothing, sledges and avalanche equipment. He sent this to Central Asia to breathe new life into the local ski rental. Moreover, he regularly went there to freeride.
When he started supporting several ski projects, he founded a foundation with friends. This Ryce Travel Foundation helped with the construction of a yurt camp, donated clothing, gave ski lessons and started a football school (because they happened to receive a container with second-hand football clothing). The foundation also tried to bring Central Asia to the attention of Western travelers. When you got there on the slopes you would hear no language other than Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek or Russian.
When Bizztravel was sold in 2015, Peter decided to offer trips himself. These journeys naturally began in Kyrgyzstan. It had to be a trip where the local economy was supported and where travelers would see something of the country in addition to winter sports. It had to be a winter sport that you will never forget. The ski areas are quite limited so Peter was committed to creating a total experience. He convinced local owners to run a yurt camp in the winter and he ensured that the horses came from the stable in the winter.
Eventually it became a trip with skiing in a ski area, droppings with a Pistenbully, sleeping in yurts, swimming in hot springs, singing during karaoke, horse riding with downhill, hiking among red rocks, strolling in the capital Bishkek and dancing in a pajama in a spa complex. Everywhere you are taken care of by local people, you sleep in local guesthouses and you eat local meals. And if you are white, you can leave winter sports items for local projects.
These journeys have been expanded enormously in recent years with destinations along the former silk route. Ryce Travel now offers trips to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Turkey and Lebanon. In addition, the foundation has started building so-called Travel HUBs. In the town of Karakol (Kyrgyzstan) a meeting center for tourists and locals was opened last summer. In the HUB is a ski rental, an outdoor shop, a coffee shop, a pub, a roof terrace and an information center. The same concept will be realized in Peja (Kosovo) and in Tbilisi (Georgia) in the coming years.
Peter nowadays spends most of his winters in countries along the Silk Road. This year he even organizes the first Silkroad Freeride Tour where local freeriders can participate in a four-day event in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. They are trained by pro-riders from Europe and the US. The goal is to prepare local freeriders for the World Freeride Tour.
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