Aston Martin On Ice
That’s what the display says inside the car. The air outside is cold, crisp, and very Colorado. Winter means snow, and there’s plenty of it on the ground. It’s far from the ideal place to drive any vehicle that isn’t equipped with Mattracks.
Still… I’m an adventurous type, so I’m lined up at a starting gate, itching to tackle a race course built into a snowy field. I have a 565-horsepower V-12 engine ready to send power to the rear wheels. Say hello to lots of opposite lock steering… and say hello to the Aston Martin on Ice driving program.
Crested Butte, Colorado is the exact image you have in your head when you think of a small ski town. It’s part college kids, part friendly legal stoner hamlet, and part wealthy folks ready to go skiing and snowboarding. It’s also home to a property called Scarp Ridge Lodge, which is owned and run by the Eleven group.
Imagine the nicest vacation property you’ve ever stayed in, then blow that up and realize it won’t ever be as nice as Scarp Ridge. That’s the name of the game with Eleven. They own their own mountain, which is just for you and your guests to enjoy. Should you wish to push a little harder on the skiing and snowboarding front, you can opt to head to their Iceland property for some heli-boarding. Eleven is on top of their game, and now they have a fresh trick up their sleeve with the new-to-the-States Aston Martin on Ice driving program.
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These are cars that probably never see rain, never mind snow, but here I am freezing my ass off and trying not to stuff a rather pricey machine into a snow bank. OK… I have the heated seats on, so I’m good there. I’m also surprisingly good in terms of traction. How is that even possible? It’s a mixture of downright shockingly impressive Pirelli winter tires, and excellent driving instruction.
My day starts with some very brief discussions on what to expect. The real action happens on the snow, and that’s why I move quickly from talking about driving these Aston Martins to actually piloting them on the white stuff. The full course is broken down into multiple sections. I get a lesson in full-bore ABS braking, threshold braking, and then trail braking intertwined with throttle application in order to exit a corner successfully.
From there it’s a slalom lesson, which takes place across a long corner. This means you’re moving the car back and forth over the slippery stuff, while also taking a turn. Lateral movement is the name of the game, especially in a car like the new V12 Vantage S. With its short wheelbase, it’s the twitchiest of the bunch, but it also proves to be quite agile when it comes time to get the rear rotated and the nose ready for the next corner.
Finally, I get a skidpad assignment that helps me understand the balance between understeer and oversteer. Don’t dial in more steering when you’re plowing, and dial in a healthy dose of smooth steering when your trunk wants to play "swapsies" with your hood.
Aston Martin On IceEnlarge Photo
Day one ends with many lessons learned as the sun sets over glorious snow capped peaks filling nearly every distant direction. Day two, however, is just a spin of the Earth away, and will give way to full-course Aston Martin sideways goodness.