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Record year for Colorado 14ers, as more mountains could see changes to access

Search and rescue teams saw an increase of 200% in summertime missions over the average last year.

COLORADO, USA — A new analysis details the ever-rising popularity of Colorado's biggest mountains and underscores ongoing struggles to control crowds seeking 14,000 feet.

The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative's latest annual report estimates 415,000 people hiked the state's highest 54 peaks last year, an 18% increase from the previous record in 2018. The nonprofit projected 288,000 hikers in 2019, a summer that saw the high country open much later due to lingering snowpack and avalanche debris.

> The video above is about the most Colorado Thing We Saw Today? Salsa dancing on atop a 14er

The 18% increase more than doubles the pace of common year-to-year growth that the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has tracked. The group makes estimates based on data from in-ground foot counters around the state as well as from numbers checking into the popular web source, 14ers.com.

During the pandemic, "There was just a tsunami of people hitting all of our public lands, and the fourteeners were no exception," said CFI's executive director, Lloyd Athearn.

>> Read the full story on the Denver Gazette 

RELATED: First Black man to hike all Colorado 14ers celebrates other man trying to achieve same feat

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