Legislators tackle fourteener access issues
The Associated Press
DENVER ” Calling it an opportunity to show off Colorado’s “crown jewels” of mountain climbing, a legislative committee gave its approval Wednesday to a plan that would allow property owners to permit people to cross their property without being sued for any accidents that might occur.
Access to Mount Lincoln, 14,286 feet, and five other “fourteeners” covered partly by private land or mining permits has become an obstacle for peak-baggers ” climbers who set out to reach all 54 summits.
More than 1,000 people have accomplished that feat since the early 1900s, and 10 to 40 more join the list every year, according to Colorado Mountain Club records.
Maury Reiber, who shut off access to Mount Lincoln last year after being warned by an attorney that he could be liable for any accidents, warned lawmakers in a letter that he would continue to deny access unless lawmakers agreed to a series of conditions that included educating the public of dangers, requiring the public to stick to trails, reminding people to not remove anything from private property and putting up trail markers.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called it a reasonable compromise and approved a bill (House Bill 1049) meeting the requirements. It now goes to the full Senate for debate.
“While this legislation will not guarantee continued access to some of these crown jewels, we can guarantee Coloradans will be denied access to them if we don’t do something,” said Grossman, who said he tried and failed to climb several of the mountains and would like the opportunity to try again.
Sen. Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said insurance companies are resorting to “spin” when they try to scare people over issues like this, portraying a litigious society looking for trouble. He also said he supports the bill.
Vera Smith, spokeswoman for the Colorado Mountain Club, said the bill is a good compromise for hikers and others who want to enjoy Colorado mountains, even though it requires people go give up their right to sue for a chance to enjoy the outdoors.
Six Colorado “fourteeners” where access is limited by private property and liability concerns, according to Colorado mountain climbing groups:
– Mount Lincoln, 14,286 feet.
– Mount Cameron, 14,238 feet.
– Mount Bross, 14,172 feet.
– Mount Democrat, 14,148 feet.
– Culebra Peak, 14,047 feet.
– Wilson Peak, 14,017 feet.
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