For over 13 years, the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) has been providing the students of Colorado College with ample, affordable opportunities to explore the great outdoors, and their services just became even more accessible with the grand opening of the new and improved Ahlberg Gear House on Sept. 4.
Previously located in the basement of the OEC on Nevada Avenue, the updated Gear House has been given its own space on the Yampa side of the OEC, called “The Annex.” Upon first glance, one might not notice this new addition—it was designed to blend with the OEC seamlessly—but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Personally, I had always known there was a Gear House located somewhere on campus, but I never took the time to visit. Those who did take the time to visit, unlike me, were confused as to where to go and felt they were in the wrong place upon entering the OEC basement. However, the new facility fosters a much more welcoming, accessible vibe; I could not help but feel overjoyed by the number of opportunities available to me and my peers. The walls are lined with countless sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacking backpacks, outerwear, and kayaks available to rent at little to no cost.
“The goal of the Gear House is not to make a profit,” said Rachael Abler, Outdoor Education Specialist at the OEC. “We just want people to get outside, and the college supports us so well that we don’t need to make money back.”
In fact, the Ahlberg Gear House simply seeks to be an inexpensive way for students to access the outdoors through the four R’s: Resource, Rental, Repair, and Retail.
As far as repair goes, the Gear House has given a new home to the bike co-op, previously located in an unheated garage by Tutt Library. Now located inside the front of the Annex, the newly named “Co-Op: Bike & Ski” is open every Monday-Thursday from 3-5p.m. and provides students with a place to maintain their bikes and skis. Knowledgeable students are employed through the OEC and are on staff to assist or oversee the maintenance that students conduct, as part of the “resource” R.
The final R (retail) will hopefully be implemented by the start of second block. “The Gear House is partnering with Mountain Chalet in order to give students access to outdoor supplies that we aren’t able to rent out to them,” said Abler. “There will be a big discount on all of the items for sale.” These include, but are not limited to: water bottles, headlamps, eating utensils, soaps, compasses, and even avalanche probes.
As for the basement of the OEC, Abler and her colleagues hope to have an Outdoor Education lounge up and running by the start of second block. This space could be used for planning trips, doing homework, or just hanging out.
Given the size of CC, the Gear House has an incredible array of gear for students, staff, and their families to rent. If you don’t believe how cheap the gear is, check out the Gear House page on the school website. For daily rentals, nothing will cost you more than $10, and most items are between $1 and $4.
“It’s my hope that all students know about the vast wealth of knowledge available through the Outdoor Education Center,” said Abler. “We are so excited to help people get outside—whether that’s by answering their questions or by helping them get the right gear to go out and explore, we’re always happy to help.”