Brandon Warr                    Jade Crow reaches for a hold during a recent competition.
Brandon Warr Jade Crow reaches for a hold during a recent competition.

The year was 1994, and it was memorable for many reasons. The Northridge Earthquake shook Los Angeles, killing 57 people. Former President Richard Nixon died at 81, and O.J. Simpson was accused of a double murder.

It was also memorable for the Gunnison High School (GHS) rock climbing team. It was their inaugural season, and Leo Malloy was at the helm of the program. That much hasn’t changed. This year, the longtime coach has high hopes for his program.

“We have a lot of state level climbers this year,” said Wulf Stark “A lot of team members will probably make it to state and everyone will definitely make it to regionals.”

When GHS rock climbing first started as a club, the team consisted of between eight and 10 climbers, who practiced two to three days a week from 8-10 p.m. Since the Cowboys only had one gym at the time, the rock climbing team had to wait until the basketball squad wrapped up for the night.

GHS attended competitions. However, there were no regional or state competitions in which to test their might. It wasn’t until eight years ago, when the Colorado Climbing League was formed, that climbers were offered regional and state comps not unlike other sports. Within the league, 16 climbers qualify for state out of four regions, meaning 64 climbers compete for the top three spots on the podium.

The Western Slope currently boasts about 15 climbing teams, from which Montrose and Gunnison emerged as the first climbing programs at the highschool level.

During a competition, there are 30 rope routes set and 20 bouldering routes. The easiest climb for bouldering is worth 100 points, while the hardest is worth 3,800 points. For ropes, the easiest is worth a 100 points, while the hardest is worth 2,000. The highest three scores for each discipline are kept, while the lowest score is thrown out. For a team score, a squad’s topthree individual scores are tallied.

Last season, GHS had eight climbers qualify for state out of the 30 members of the team.

Ella Lapello led the way for the Cowboys, placing 13th at state. As a team, the girls finished ninth, while the boys finished 10th. GHS looks to duplicate the success they had last season.

“I’d like to see us qualify five girls and five guys for state,” said Malloy. “We would also like to be in the top 10 schools for either bouldering or ropes.”

Although Jake Parmeter placed 12th last year at state for the boys, Malloy would like to see his climbers place even higher this season.

“The last time we had someone place high for the guys was two years ago when Sebastian Infantes took first place,” said Malloy.

Parmeter, Alex Hays and Lapello highlight climbers who looking to lead the way for the Cowboys this season. While Corey Camp is new to the team, he has already managed to catch Malloy’s attention.

John Kattnig also is a climber to look out for. Malloy noted Kattnig’s dedication to improving his climbing skills. In Kattnig’s first meet this season, he finished eighth in bouldering, closely behind Parameter who finished third.

GHS will be back on the road Saturday as they travel to Ridgway.

(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or

Climbing squad looks to improve on last year’s performance