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'Gear library' helps everyone enjoy the great outdoors

The gear library is open to Lake County Residents and students, it provides a place to temporarily rent outdoor equipment.

LEADVILLE, Colo. — Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Leadville has a new library, but this one doesn’t carry books.

CMC partnered with Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!) to create a “gear library” on campus where residents of Lake County can purchase an annual membership for $30, or students can purchase for $15, according to their website.

Members then have access to rent out snowshoes, bikes, Nordic skis, camping equipment and other types of outdoor gear. According to GOL!’s website, you just need to fill out a request for the gear you want to rent online or in person, and from there you will be able to use the gear for up to 14 days.

Rachel Pokrandt, Vice President and Campus Dean of CMC Leadville and Chaffee County, said that the goal of the gear library is to make outdoor activities attainable for everyone. While many outdoor recreational activities require expensive gear, this program breaks down some of those barriers and allows people to rent instead.

“In Colorado, we have this amazing outdoor industry which brings billions of dollars into the state,” Pokrandt said. “But these are very privileged activities. The idea here in Leadville is that we want all of our community members to have access to the great outdoors.”

Credit: Philip Dunn
Bikes at the gear library at CMC

She said CMC is a great location for the gear library because it was the first provider of an outdoor degree program in the state. Students at CMC will be able to work at the gear library to gain experience.

“Being partnered with the gear library means that our students can come and work here and intern here and interact with the public and really learn their craft as outdoor industry professionals,” Pokrandt said.

Another reason CMC is a good spot, Pokrandt said, is because right behind the gear library, people can access mountain biking and cross country skiing trails, which are maintained year-round by CMC students.

The gear library staff also runs educational programming for people to learn how to do certain activities or use certain gear.

“If you've never been on a backpacking trip before and you need to understand how to use a stove or pack a backpack, you can come in and get all that education before you head out with your family or your friends,” Pokrandt said.

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According to GOL!’s website, the gear library offers biking, Nordic skiing, camping, and backpacking workshops and training.

Pokrandt believes that programs like this will help communities in several ways.

“We have a great responsibility as Colorado residents and as people who enjoy the outdoors to make sure there's access to these amenities for everybody in our community,” Pokrandt said. “It helps with health equity outcomes and it helps with educational outcomes in our communities.”

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