Littering Becoming a Huge Problem on Colorado’s 14ers
Colorado's many 14,000+ foot mountains, known by the locals as '14ers,' have been experiencing a problem recently: littering.
Loretta McEllhiney, the Colorado 14ers Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service has reported seeing all kinds of litter at the top of these magnificent peaks, including cardboard signs used by climbers to document their climbs. The climbers typically write the name of the 14er and the elevation on the signs, then take a picture of themselves holding the sign to post to social media.
However, according to McEllhiney, some climbers have a tendency to leave their signs at the top of the mountains after getting their picture taken:
Most 14er summits seem to be littered with those signs. It would be really nice if people would abide by leave no trace principles and leave nothing behind. If they can pack it up, surely they can pack it down.
Another item commonly found left behind on 14ers is, unfortunately, dog poop bags. In fact, McEllhiney noted that she can "typically fill a bucket hiking up and down a 14er with just dog poop bags." Apparently the hikers are courteous enough to clean up after their pets, but not courteous enough to pack the bags back down.
If you think that's gross, it gets even worse. McEllhiney also reported finding soiled underwear on the mountains, which Forest Service employees have nicknamed "poopy-panties." McEllhiney has a theory as to why this is such a common find:
I think what happens is people don't know how to dispose of their waste, and they have an accident. And they're usually chewed up, and this cannot be good for alpine animals.
Ever since I was a child I was always told to leave nothing but footprints in nature, but unfortunately, not everyone abides by the same rules here in Colorado.