14er Mount Lindsey, located near Alamosa, Colorado, has been closed to public access due to liability concerns. Access to the summit block of the 14,048ft tall mountain is now prohibited, as stated by a sign placed by the landowners, the Trinchera-Blanca Ranch. While the closure doesn’t impact the surrounding peaks or most of the trail to the top, the summit and surrounding area have been placed off-limits to hikers. A forum post made by Lloyd Athearn, the Executive Director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, states that the closure was enacted out of a concern for legal liability based on a recent court case and exception in the Colorado Recreation Use Statue.
The root of the closure stems from the court case Nelson V. United States, in which a bicyclist successfully sued the United States Air Force Academy for “willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition” after he crashed and suffered head injuries on Academy land. This ruling created limits to the Colorado Recreation Use Statue, which encourages landowners to allow public access to their rural property in exchange for limited liability in the case of injury. In an uncontrolled alpine environment, the concern is that unmitigated hazards could make the ranch liable for injuries sustained on the peak.
In his blog post, Athearn says that the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative “continues to work with landowners” to open the Mount Lindsey summit. He then states that a new bill may need to be passed through the Colorado Legislature to ensure access to the peak. With the implementation of this closure, it seems likely that the summit will remain off-limits to hikers at least through the remainder of the 2021 summer season, putting the peak-bagging aspirations of hikers on hold. Athearn ends his post by urging climbers to respect the closure while noting that the CFI “hopes to have this resolved by next climbing season.