Economic Barriers Cause Mixed Access to Outdoor Activities at CC – The Catalyst

October 28, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Théo Ollier | Photo by Katherine Beard

The Colorado College Athletics and Recreation website overview says the CC community has “easy access” to outdoor venues like skiing in Vail or Aspen.

In reality, not all CC students have equal access to outdoor opportunities due to financial barriers. Although the culture of various clubs related to the outdoors can be inclusive for beginners, in some cases the price of participation is simply not realistic for some students.

The vast majority of CC students are from a high-income household, as the median household income for a CC student was $277,500 for the class of 2013 and 78% of students were in the top income bracket of 20%. For many students, joining new clubs related to the outdoors is not a problem because these students can afford the equipment needed to enjoy activities like skiing and mountain biking.

However, 14% of CC students are considered low income by their federal Pell Grant aid status and only 2% of students have household income in the bottom 20%. This statistic reveals how little economic diversity there is in CC, which alienates students from the economic minority.

On the Freeriders Union of Colorado College Instagram page, a ski pass link is attached in the bio where it can be seen that the basic Ikon pass is currently $489 and the upgraded Ikon pass is $689. Additionally, renting ski equipment can cost between $200 and $400 per week and buying ski equipment can cost at least $600 not including the costs of warm winter gear. Some of this gear can be found at the Ahlberg Gear House on campus, where rentals of puffy jackets, windbreakers, goggles, poles, gloves, and other gear are free or incredibly cheap.

For a low-income student, however, the prices for a ski pass and some equipment are not attainable, and students are unlikely to have the opportunity to learn to ski, let alone become advanced.

In an effort to make skiing more accessible to students who could not otherwise afford it, the Freerider’s Union of Colorado College has created several lottery scholarships offering an Ikon pass and free rides on the FUCC bus, as well as very reduced prices. ski rental.

Sammy Ries ’23, Co-Chair of FUCC, notes that although FUCC scholarships will allow approximately 13 students to immerse themselves in the sport of skiing at very low cost, many students still face economic barriers when they are trying to get into this business. Ries has set a goal of increasing inclusivity among BIPOC and low-income students this year, and in addition to FUCC scholarships, the Freerider’s Union will host a “Snow Day” later in the ski season.

According to Ian Catto ’23, another club co-chairman, this is a day when around 100 students can enjoy a day of all-expenses covered skiing and more experienced skiers will volunteer to teach new skiers. This event will expose a much larger portion of the CC community to the sport, but it’s difficult for low-income students to make extra trips to ski resorts when package and equipment prices are such a big barrier. .

The average CC student may be able to afford the costs of ski passes and equipment, as many are in the top 20%, but the lack of economic diversity at CC sets apart middle- and low-income students who do not cannot afford expensive outdoor sports.

While a step in the right direction to make the outdoors accessible to students, a free pass isn’t going to change the economic hurdle many students face when hoping to explore new recreational activities.

Besides skiing, mountain biking is another outdoor activity that poses economic barriers to participation. There are various places to start mountain biking near campus, including Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Cheyenne Mountain State Park, but acquiring a mountain bike is a difficult task when even second-hand mountain bikes are expensive. According to, the cheapest used mountain bikes of decent quality cost at least $600, with prices hitting the $1,000 to $1,500 mark if one is interested in a bike with parts. High quality.

The Outdoor Education program offers bikes for rent at the Gear House, but their option is a fat tire bike that costs $12 for the first day and $8 for each additional day. Renting an Outdoor Education bike for a week would cost $60, and it’s not a bike that can handle advanced rides. Getting into the sport of mountain biking at CC seems like a tall order when you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on used or new mountain bikes.

Another major set of outdoor activities in CC is hiking, camping, and backpacking. As for day hikes in the Colorado Springs area, one can PikeRide or take a bus to previously mentioned places such as Red Rock Canyon Open Space, but also Garden of the Gods, Manitou Incline and various other trails .

In terms of backpacking and camping, taking advantage of trips organized by Outdoor Education makes these activities accessible as trips usually cost between $10 and $25 with minimal costs for equipment, offer rides, and fully plan the trip out. ‘advance. If a more intense trip is desired, there are outdoor education trips that the Fourteen Summits like Pike’s Peak this Friday and Saturday can register on Summit.

The barrier of cost is a relevant issue for middle- and low-income CC students trying to get involved in outdoor activities. This subject is not a major goal for many CC students themselves, probably because the vast majority are unaffected by cost considerations, but more students need accessible options for outdoor experiences. Currently, advancement in skiing and mountain biking at CC is essentially inaccessible for some students due to the extreme costs just to participate or take a few trips.

On the other hand, hiking and camping trips have become widely available to most students through the outdoor education program which offers planned trips at low cost.

Overall, Colorado College provides mixed access to outdoor activities for its students, and conversations need to take place between students, outdoor clubs, and the outdoor education program to make the outdoors more accessible to students from all economic backgrounds.