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Throwing down the throttle

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE ” There’s nothing like getting out in nature … and burning serious amounts of gasoline.

I know that’s not a very politically correct statement, but as a news reporter, I’m all about the truth. And the truth is, I had a gas snowmobiling this past weekend in the Flat Tops, the second-largest wilderness area in the state.

A group of us holed up in a cabin a few miles up from Rifle Gap. The road is closed to vehicles and there are virtually no signs of life, except the buzzing of snowmobiles flying by. We had five sleds, and plenty of fuel and Bud Light. It was an all-American weekend.



I spent the first part of Sunday sitting in the sun at our man-made snowbeach, sipping champagne. With a head full of bubbly, I finally suited up and headed for the sled.

Once I reached the top of the switchbacks directly behind the cabin, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The vast expansiveness of the endless meadows and snowfields took my breath away. I hit the throttle, and blew through those rolling valleys and hilltops at what felt like Mach-speed.




I was on sensory overload from the speed, views and weather. The sun was so bright, the snow was so white and the skies were so blue that it was hard to ascertain where I was sometimes.

There are literally tens of thousands of acres up there, and all of it can be snowmobiled. At elevations between 9,000 feet and 12,500 feet, the Flat Tops are no slouch. And traveling at 70 mph, you can see a lot more of it than if you were trying to be politically correct.

Snowmass picked up 4 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Thursday morning snow report. Aspen Mountain got 3 inches, Aspen Highlands got 2 and Buttermilk received 1 inch.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Thursday, March 13:

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone is moderate on all aspects and elevations. As new snow falls, evaluate how well it bonds to the existing snow surface.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on conditions statewide.