Lloyd Athearn – Protecting and Preserving Colorado’s Highest Peaks

Lloyd Athearn

Lloyd Athearn is the Executive Director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI), a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the natural integrity of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks through active stewardship and public education.  CFI’s work includes building and maintaining trails, educating hikers and climbers on best practices in the high country, conserving the native alpine tundra ecosystem, and generally helping to ensure that these popular mountains are not inadvertently “loved to death” through overuse.

Much of Lloyd’s career has centered around mountains, so we had a fun and wide-ranging conversation with topics including 14ers, climbing adventures, ecology, books, advice to first-time hikers, and plenty more.  Lloyd is a super interesting guy who’s doing very important work, so I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!


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Episode Notes

Topics Covered

2:50 – How Lloyd describes his work
3:45 – What is a 14er?
4:30 – Officially, how many 14ers are there?
7:50 – Why do 14ers need protecting?
11:55 – How CFI prioritizes 14er projects
14:30 – CFI’s trail inventory project
20:50 – How many people climb 14ers annually?
24:00 – How is CFI funded?
26:40 – Youth crews
28:30 – How private land can impact access to 14ers
33:00 – Specific 14er success stories
35:20 – Explaining the class rating system
36:45 – CFI’s April Fools jokes
38:20 – Lloyd’s personal background and early outdoor experiences
40:30 – Lloyd’s career path
43:40 – Lloyd’s advice to young people who are interested in a career centered around the outdoors
47:50 – Advice for a first-time 14er hike
52:20 – Lloyd’s scary Ecuador lightening experience
54:10 – Lloyd’s favorite 14er
55:15 – One of Lloyd’s (and Ed’s!) favorite books
57:45 – Favorite documentary
58:55 – Favorite non-14er outdoor activities
1:00:15 – Craziest thing that’s ever happened to Lloyd in the outdoors
1:02:50 – Favorite place(s) in the West
1:04:00 – Biggest challenge and opportunity facing Colorado in the future
1:06:10 – Lloyd’s request of listeners
1:07:45 – How to connect with CFI

Information Referenced

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