Dec 3, 2022 • 1HR 13M

Podcast #20: Three Causes Championing the Outdoors for Colorado Gives Day

Trail Talk has always been about shining a light on those working to improve our outdoor spaces. Here's what some of those groups and individuals are working on, and how you can help:

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Appears in this episode

Cole Noble
Chris Anthony
Will Pirkey
Conversations in, and about the outdoors and the incredible adventures you can find there. Topics range from conservation, to tackling tough challenges that push our limits.
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Two CFI volunteers work to move a large rock into position on a trail build
Two CFI volunteers work to move a large rock into position on a trail build

Trail Talk has always been about shining light on those who are doing great things in the outdoor community.

With “Colorado Gives Day,” coming up: I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to speak with a handful of groups who working to bring those positive changes, and could use your support.

You don’t need to be in Colorado to contribute. And even if donating is not something you are able to do right now: the conversation offers an interesting look at the future of the outdoor community, and why the fight for conservation and access is changing.

If you do feel inclined to make a contribution: you can do so at these links:

I’ll also include donation buttons inside each organization’s story below, so you don’t need to scroll back up.

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative [1:09 — 27:55]

Lloyd Athearn, Executive Director

If you’ve watched my documentary, The Alpine Amusement Park, you may already be familiar with CFI’s work. Since the 90’s, this organization has been tasked with the difficult duty of building up and preserving trails that were never quite meant to exist.

Almost all of the 14ers were unplanned bushwhacks. The routes themselves are oftentimes steep and unstable, and originate in tiny trailhead parking lots that can no longer meet demand.

Help a friend find a charity to support this Colorado Gives Day, by sharing this episode:


Much of CFI’s work involves restoration and trail hardening, as pictured above.

But more recently: projects are getting more complicated. Lloyd explains that future trail access will involve sorting through messy landholding issues, where some trails run across private land claims.

A crew works to install timber steps to grade a trail
A crew works to install timber steps to grade a trail

Future projects CFI is looking at:

  • Mt. Elbert: both the Northeast and Black Cloud routes

  • Mt. Shavano: a complicated operation involving buying mining claims, possible helicopter lifts

  • Expanding Sustainable Trail Inventories: a program that surveys routes, foot-by-foot to help plan future restoration work

  • Education Initiatives: work to show the public how fragile the alpine ecosystem is, and how it can be protected

If you are interested in contributing to these plans, you can donate by clicking the button below:

Donate to CFI

Panadero Ski Corp. [28:58 — 51:14]

Will Pirkey, Board Member

Don’t let the “corp.,” fool you; this group is a 501c3 non-profit. I’ve followed their efforts closely, as they work to restore lift-served skiing to the long-abandoned Cuchara Mountain Park. In case you missed it, here’s my earlier Trail Talk episode cataloguing their work.

Cuchara Mountain Park is a fascinating cause to contribute to, because as Will explains: the project is helping the community on multiple levels.

The park has potential to bring tourism revenue to one of the poorest counties in Colorado. It will also provide access to recreation to a community that does not currently have it. And on the most macro level: it helps preserve the dying breed of affordable, local ski hills.

Mega-passes are convenient for die-hard riders who clock dozens of days on the slopes each year. But they’ve led to a huge frontloading of costs that keep snow sports out of reach for many newcomers — particularly large families.

As is the case with the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Panadero Ski Corp. is also securing more public land. When Cuchara’s old owners abandoned the place, they kept their private property holdings. This strip of land around the base area acted as a buffer wall, keeping locals from accessing the expansive Forest Service land beyond.

By purchasing that land from the county, the Cuchara Foundation (which later spawned the offshoot Panadero Ski Corp) removed that barrier to public access.

Future projects Panadero is looking at:

  • Lift 4: the main focus remains getting lift 4 certified and operational

  • Expanded services: when lift-served skiing returns, a great deal of infrastructure such as ski schools and rental services will need to be built out

  • Bike/hiking trails: providing more year-round recreation opportunities on site

If you are interested in contributing to these plans, you can donate by clicking the button below:

Donate to Panadero Ski Corp.

Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project [51:55— 1:12:03]

Chris Anthony, Founder

“The mission of the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project is to improve quality of life through introducing youth to educational enrichment opportunities. We do this by putting mentors in the classroom, bridging students to experiential opportunities beyond the classroom, providing financial support, and building educational tools that enhance the classroom experience.”

As I have previously covered on the Base Camp News section of Cole’s Climb: Chris Anthony has actually entered into a partnership with Panadero Ski Corp., to help get more children in southern Colorado on skis.

Aside from being a world-class skier and filmmaker, Colorado legend Chris Anthony also runs his “Youth Initiative Project.” This foundation works to provide children in underserved communities with the opportunity to try snow sports.

While skiing is certainly front and center, the Youth Initiative Project works to bring kids other enrichment opportunities too, such as field trips and other projects. In our interview, Chris discusses one class that is working together to build their own skate park.

A big function of this project helps kids find a strong purpose that can help guide them through life — an especially important goal at a time when young people in America are feeling more directionless than ever before.

There is also a downstream impact to introducing more young people to the outdoors: people who experience, understand, and love nature are far more likely to respect and protect it. This initiative has a similar mission to my own: growing the responsible outdoor community.

Donate to the Youth Initiative Project

There are a great many charities and causes worthy of your support this holiday season. Of course — I can only highlight a select few that I believe are making a unique impact on the outdoor community.

Wherever your interests lie, I do hope you will consider making some kind of charitable donation in the spirit of the holiday season.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to listen, and read! If you’d like to hear more about the incredible people affecting change in the outdoor community, consider a free subscription to Cole’s Climb, to get content like this in your inbox weekly.

Original theme music for the Trail Talk Podcast is produced by Ty Ellenbogen.