Rift Raft guides to launch new company | AspenTimes.com

Rift Raft guides to launch new company

Naomi Havlen

River rats from a recently sold rafting company in Aspen have decided to form their own raft and kayak outfit in time for summer.

Jim Ingram, who was the river manager for Colorado Riff Raft before it was sold to Blazing Adventures last month, is forming Aspen Whitewater Rafting with nine fellow Riff Raft guides. The new company will offer trips in rafts and individual inflatable kayaks on the Roaring Fork and Arkansas rivers.

“We looked at the snow, and it’s been such a good year that I ran this idea by a few of Riff Raft’s top guides,” Ingram said. “Some people hadn’t made decisions about working for Blazing Adventures, and this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.”

Bob Harris, owner of Snowmass Village-based Blazing Adventures, purchased Colorado Riff Raft in March. Besides Harris’ company, the valley’s remaining rafting outfitters are all now based in Glenwood Springs.

“I think people need choices, and Blazing is in a position where they can say they’re going to charge this much for rafting, and if you don’t want to pay that you can drive yourself 45 miles to Glenwood Springs or the Arkansas River,” Ingram said.

Ingram, who has been a raft guide since 1995, said that he and his company’s raft guides have 75 years of combined experience, and more than half of them are trained for the more difficult Class IV and V rapids. The guides have traveled to Ecuador and Alaska on guiding trips, but are also experienced in guiding gentle floats for river newcomers.

Aspen Whitewater Rafting will offer brand-new equipment, including 12- and 14-foot boats, inflatable kayaks called “duckys” and wet suits. Ingram, a Snowmass ski patroller, said the company will be based out of Aspen and will feature three trips on the Roaring Fork and three on the Arkansas.

“We’re trying to get away from Shoshone on the Colorado, where there are busloads of people,” Ingram said. “We want to provide a nice, small experience and not herds and herds of people.”

The new company’s rafting season should hopefully begin around May 15, Ingram said, when the Roaring Fork hits 800 cubic feet per second of water. He estimated the river is currently at 200 cfs.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com