Faculty climbing membership is again at it | Sports activities


The Telluride Intermediate School’s climbing gym is seeing its first action in over a year, as San Miguel County previously used the gym to store COVID-19 vaccines. But in November the gym was cleaned up and adventurous members of the Telluride Middle / High School Climbing Club are using the gym for their original purpose.

The club, which was under the umbrella of several organizations including the Telluride Academy, is officially an official school club, said Chris Murray, the district’s sports director. He attributes the primary motivators behind this change to volunteer coaches Dave Chew and Dave Nesis.

“Both Nesis and Chew were the driving force behind the school district adopting this as an additional activity for our students,” said Murray.

Superintendent John Pandolfo made it clear that the club is not an official sport under the district’s athletics program, but “it is admittedly in a gray area between the club and the sport.”

Chew, a native of Telluride and an avid climber, has been a volunteer climbing trainer with various organizations for over a decade.

“The school is in the process of bringing everything under one roof and then finding out from there. The school has been a great help in really solidifying the program. It feels pretty safe now and for the long term, and that was the goal, ”he said.

Fourth grade teacher Sue Hehir became the club’s official school sponsor. Teacher sponsorships are required for all clubs within the school. While Hehir is the “official sponsor,” she praised Chew and Nesis as the club’s true pioneers.

“They are the trainers and the reason for it. The kids love these guys and they have brought together a number of other motivated climbers to train and inspire our students to discover a love for climbing,” said Hehir.

There are many benefits to having the school add the climbing club as an official activity such as: B. Liability and Transport. It also opens up more options in terms of facility usage, Murray said.

Chew and Nesis helped start the club long before it became an official school activity. About 11 years ago, Nesis and Chew volunteered at the Telluride Academy and found that after high school students finished climbing with the younger kids in the gym, they started climbing on their own without much guidance.

First, Chew explained, they just hung out with the kids and taught them the basics of climbing and safety protocol. After a while, more kids showed up, and Chew turned to the school to run it as a club.

“I just started out originally as someone who shows people the skills it takes to get outside and do it safely with your friends. A few years later we started competitive climbing and the competitive side of the sport. “Called Chew.

In March 2020, the gym was closed along with the whole world. Chew and Nesis unofficially kept the club going, climbing with students outside on the Ophir Wall and around Telluride.

“It was cool,” said Chew, “because then all the kids came back to the gym with a different perspective on climbing, as a sport and a passion for life.”

In order to reopen the gym earlier, climbing club members along with Chew and Nesis helped prepare the gym for climbing. Together they rebuilt part of the wall, put down climbing pads and put up ropes.

The association currently has around 25 members. The number often fluctuates due to all of the other activities and sports Telluride kids are involved in, Chew explained.

One of Chew’s favorite things to do at the club is watching kids graduate from high school, leave Telluride, and then come back to teach the new climbers.

“Now we have a few kids who are well out of college and have moved back to Telluride and helping us coach the climbing team. It’s cool to see the circle come full circle,” Chew said.

The club is currently one of the few groups that uses the climbing hall. In the past, other organizations have used it for various activities and associations. Pandolfo explained why the climbing club has access to the gym compared to other organizations.

“As the climbing club is a school activity, it falls under our liability policy. Any outside organization must provide an insurance certificate as part of the submission of a usage contract. I understand that this can be challenging for some outside organizations,” said Pandolfo.

Telluride High School Senior Ayla Kanow looks forward to getting back on the wall and climbing again after the pandemic closes. Although soccer is her main sport, she joined the climbing club to stay strong, conditioned and to join “a new community of athletes” during the off-season.

“I’m so glad this club is back up after COVID as it promotes such a great group of students who share a love for the place we grew up in. He really teaches us everything about leadership, respect and perseverance, ”said Kanow called. “I’ve gained great mentors and hopefully become a mentor to some of the younger climbers.”