One of the highlights of our Overlanding the Rockies trip was to whitewater raft while in Aspen. Now, if you have ever been to Aspen you know the town is eclectic and attracts a wide range of spirits from all around the globe. Even though Aspen is very expensive and foo-foo, with the rich and famous making this one of their favorite stomping grounds, there is definitely an undercurrent of locals and pragmatic nomads living in the valley. Annette and I rolled into town from Ouray hungry and tired with our very first stop being Little Annie’s Eating House. My absolute favorite place to eat anywhere; try the prime rib sandwich and make sure you sit at the bar. It’s a local’s favorite watering hole and lunch stop probably because they still serve a shot and a beer for $3.50 to wash down a sandwich.
The bartender that day happened to be Ty, a young adventurous soul, who suggested looking past the big name rafting companies to a Kiwi named Scotty Gibsone who runs the Kiwi Adventure Kompany. His slogan is “If you got the balls, we got the yak”. Ty guaranteed us we wanted to run with Scotty because there would be no long van rides over to the Arkansas River, he runs small boats of just 2 people plus guide, he is hilarious and quite a spirit when it comes to rafting. Ty was right.
We hooked up with Scotty and his crew the following morning at a park right outside of Aspen. He rolled up in his van with boats piled high and an enduro motorcycle on a rack off the hitch. After our initial greetings and hearing his unique Kiwi accent we knew we had chosen wisely with Scotty. He just puts off that vibe that says "fun".
The guides had a great sense of humor, very knowledgeable and paid a keen eye to safety explaining to us just how the run down the Roaring Fork River would unfold. Donning the full wet suits, booties, helmets, splash shirts and life vests provided the first thing noticeable is just how nice the equipment is and how well the guides made sure everything fit and that we were comfortable. Very Cool!
Normally in July the Roaring Fork River isn’t running at 900 cubic feet per-second but this year’s snow melt had been a blessing for the rafting operations in the area and felt lucky to go over the infamous Slaughter House Falls. What was snow the day before was water today and after I came out of the boat and hit the drink the cold water took my breath away even in a full wetsuit.
Scotty and his crew snapped about 120 pics of the guests hitting all the rapids during our run and the entire day went smooth and without a hitch. I would highly recommend Kiwi Adventure Kompany to anyone looking for a great non-commercial rafting experience while in the Aspen/Snowmass area. Scotty and his guides are top notch, fun, energetic and extremely knowledgeable about their job. Our guide Al had been working rivers for 14 years and it showed.
All the pics below were taken from Scotty’s camera and were available to purchase for 20 dollars on CD-Rom within minutes after our trip. I would highly recommend the CD for a souvenir of your experience. Our friends and family have enjoyed seeing what we did that day and Annette and I watch it often wanting more. Our trip to Aspen next summer will definitely be more to raft with Scotty than anything else.