Leadville’s gear-lending “library” is tearing down barriers to build a new generation of outdoor adventurers | VailDaily.com

Leadville’s gear-lending “library” is tearing down barriers to build a new generation of outdoor adventurers

Get Outdoors Leadville! offers bikes, packs, skis and more to Lake County residents in a national model for increasing diversity in outdoor recreation.

Geonna Bowers, Get Outdoors Gear Library intern, cleans and applies bike lube on a chain April 9, 2021, on the Colorado Mountain College Campus in Leadville, CO. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Vanessa Saldivar was 5 when her father hiked her up the bunny slope at Mt. Hood Skibowl in Oregon. She didn’t have a fancy jacket. She used socks as mittens. Her dad gave her a nudge. And she was hooked.

“All these barriers just broke down in that moment,” said the new executive director of Get Outdoors Leadville!, which last week opened a new gear library that lends outdoor equipment to Lake County residents. “The gear library is addressing those barriers. How big of a difference would this have made in my community growing up? I could have had gloves!”

Five years after the Get Outdoors Leadville! — or GOL — coalition secured $3 million from Great Outdoors Colorado’s Generation Wild initiative, the long-planned gear cache is opening its own facility on the Colorado Mountain College campus.

Saldivar grew up in a tourism-dependent town in Oregon near the Mount Hood ski area. Both her parents worked as cooks in restaurants. “Financial and cultural” obstacles limited their opportunities to get outside and recreate, Saldivar said.

“But my dad wanted us to know the outdoors was for us, too,” said Saldivar, an avid skier, snowboarder, rock climber and mountain biker. “When I look at the gear library I think about my early experiences in the outdoors and I know what kind of impact those experiences can have. Those barriers continue for low income families and immigrant families and families of color. The gear library … is totally addressing some of those barriers.”

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