Home » Hike » Currently Reading:

Adopt-A-Peak

March 4, 2010 Hike No Comments

Peak Steward field training in June 2009. Photo by Brian Wallace

The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative is making a big push to expand its eight-year-old Peak Stewards program, in which 14er fans volunteer to spend several days educating visitors about the alpine environment, Leave No Trace practices, and peak-specific regulations. The nonprofit has added six one-day training sessions this winter and spring, hoping to more than triple its volunteer corps. We asked CFI education and outreach coordinator Brian Wallace to fill us in:

Mojo: So, briefly describe the Peak Stewards program.

Wallace: CFI’s mission statement in general is to protect and preserve the natural integrity of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks through active stewardship and public education. The Peak Stewards program exclusively focuses on the education portion. Peak Stewards receive specialized training in alpine ecology, 14er-specific Leave No Trace, Forest Service regulations, and visitor interaction techniques.

Mojo: How many volunteers do you have?

Wallace: We had 40 trained at the beginning of last summer and 30 active, completing a total of 140 days. This year I am hoping to recruit and train at least 100 more individuals, with aspirations of over 500 volunteer days on the peaks.

Mojo: What’s a typical day like for a Peak Steward?

Wallace: That depends on what their personal goals are. If they are looking forward to climbing the mountain, then by all means they can climb the mountain and volunteer as a steward at the same time. If they would like to steward without climbing (many of our older volunteers do this), then hanging out at the trailhead and educating visitors as they arrive is also an option.

Mojo: Do people get assigned to one peak, like a sort of adopt-a-peak program? Or do they visit multiple peaks during the summer?

Peak Steward's station at Lincoln-Democrat-Bross trailhead. Photo by James Jimenez

Wallace: Again, because I am trying to maintain a volunteer program that is convenient, it depends on the preference of the steward. We have a list of priority peaks that we try to fill. In general, though, I try to encourage stewards to visit the peaks they want to. We do ask that a Peak Steward volunteer at least four days per season, but some give two and some give 15, so it all basically equals out.

Mojo: Do the stewards ever end up feeling like cops? Do any hikers resent their presence?

Wallace: It’s funny and appropriate that you would ask this. There’s an educational technique called “authority of the resource” developed by George Wallace at CSU that transfers the authority from the “agency” (CFI, USFS, “laws,” etc.) to the “resource” (delicate tundra, for example). We basically train our Peak Stewards to avoid saying “You can’t do this” and instead say something like, “You would have less impact on the natural environment if you did it like this instead”—for instance, not cutting a switchback. We really try and avoid the police mentality.

That being said, there will always be people that don’t like someone giving them advice, even if it is for a worthy reason, and some hikers don’t enjoy seeing anyone from an agency while using public lands. But the majority of the people we interact with are very grateful to see volunteers trying to mitigate the amount of ecological damage that occurs on the peaks.

Mojo: What do the volunteers get out of dedicating their free time to this program?

Wallace: I would be willing to say that 90 percent of our Peak Stewards would be climbing the peaks regardless of whether they were volunteering. This allows people to volunteer while doing something they already receive great pleasure from. Instead of just being a user of public lands, they can actually help protect and preserve these lands, a mentality that will hopefully carry over into a general outdoor recreation ethic.

We do have some swag-type items that we try to offer Peak Stewards who post the highest number of days, but that all depends on what we receive in donations from gear companies. And there could be a tax break! Under most circumstances, volunteers can write off their expenditures as charitable contributions.

Mojo: How do people get involved?

Wallace: There will be trainings throughout the spring and early summer. The next one is this coming Sunday (March 7) at the Boulder REI, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All the trainings that are on the schedule so far can be found at our website.  If people want to register or get more info, they can contact me at 303-278-7650 or by email. We’ve also got a Facebook page that people can check out.

Mojo: Cool, Brian, have a great summer!

Comment on this Article:







Join Us…

We welcome stories, photos, video, and cool trip reports. Drop us a line, and we'll get you started.

Supported By…

Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

Supported By…

Category RSS Feeds

Firsts

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake […]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. […]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story. While researching routes […]

Supported By…

Classics

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties […]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything. Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass Tour Distance: 7.3 miles Total Vert: ca. 2,900′ Season: […]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but […]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers […]

Wild

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: “The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with […]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May. Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by […]

Supported By…