Coloradans have long pursued outdoor adventures, usually to satisfy a craving for one thing: Adrenaline. But what’s the real cost of our most feverish obsession?
Few places on Earth can match Colorado’s selection of rigorous climbs, verdant hiking trails, roaring white-water rapids, and majestic ski runs. They are the lifeblood of our economy, the primary motivator of our physical healthiness, and the inspiration for the local and regional pride that make our state one of the most desirable places to live in America. 8 These outdoor playgrounds also are the sites—and sometimes the causes—of an alarming number of accidents and deaths. Fueling virtually every mogul run, fourteener hike, and river chute is adrenaline. It’s the hormone that, depending on your internal chemistry, either seduces you into rushing up (or down) the side of a mountain or intimidates you into remaining firmly earthbound. 8 What follows is a series of stories, statistics, and graphics that illustrates the toll Colorado’s love affair with adrenaline takes each year. Regardless of whether you’re a gonzo daredevil or lean toward low-velocity recreation, learning more about this mysterious and intoxicating substance can only help you better assess the risks and rewards you’ll encounter during your own outdoor forays. These tales and tips will enable all would-be adventurers to more completely understand—and safely realize—the full potential that life in Colorado has to offer.