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Exposure Volume 1, Summer 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Updates
From the President
Insights
Tales from the Gripped
Nature Guide
Letters to the Editor
WMCC Announcements
ABC Announcements
Kudos to...
WMCC Requests
Special Thanks to...

 

UPDATES

 

USFWS RECOGNIZES ROCK CLIMBING - NEW POLICIES FOR REFUGE

Thanks to the efforts of the Wichita Mountains Access Association (WMAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), rock climbing has been officially recognized as a legitimate recreational activity as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR). Following a lengthy two year debate with the WMAA over the methods and results of a controversial draft Environmental Assessment on Rock Climbing, FWS officials released a DECISION NOTICE AND FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT for Rock Climbing at the WMWR. The document describes rock climbing as "a viable activity which is critical for overall public and political support of the Refuge and the Service." More importantly, the report approves a management plan for climbing that was developed by new Refuge Manager, Sam Waldstein, and his staff for the Final Environmental Assessment. Numerous comments and suggestions from the public, the WMAA, and other interested groups were considered by Refuge officials prior to preparing their final recommendations. The WMAA gave its full support for the proposal.

The new regulations for rock climbing went into effect May 1, 1996 and are as follows:

1) Climbing is allowed during daylight hours throughout the Public Use Area of the Refuge, except as described below in number 3. No permits or fees are required.

2) All of the rock faces on the north and east side of West Cache Creek in the Narrows are closed to climbing activity while research is conducted to help determine the impact of rock climbing on cliff habitat and associated wildlife. This is the left side of the Narrows as you hike into the canyon, and includes Sunshine Wall. Climbing on the south and west side of West Cache Creek, which includes Zoo Wall, Leaning Tower, and Lichen Wall, is not affected.

3) Sport Rappelling is prohibited in the Narrows. This prohibition does not apply to climbers if Rappelling is the only reasonable alternative for descending from the top of a route.

4) Placement of fixed anchors (bolts, pitons, etc.), including the replacement of existing bolts is prohibited without the approval of Refuge Management and the Advisory Bolting Committee (ABC) of the WMCC. The use of power drills is precluded by the Wilderness Act, and is therefor prohibited in the Charons Gardens Wilderness Area.

5) Commercial guides are required to obtain an annual Special Use Permit from the Refuge Manager. Fee required.

The new regulations represent a reasonable means to insure that rock climbing remains a compatible recreational activity of the WMWR. Please show your support for the efforts of Refuge Management and the WMCC by strictly abiding by these new policies. -Staff Report

WMAA DISSOLVED - WICHITA MOUNTAINS CLIMBERS COALITION FOUNDED

Following the final approval of the new management plan for rock climbing at the Refuge, the Executive Committee of the WMAA announced they were dissolving the organization. Committee members expressed their gratitude to all WMAA members for their support and efforts during the WMAA's successful campaign.

With the mission of the WMAA complete, a new organization was needed to represent the climbing community on issues regarding the Refuge and to assist Refuge officials in implementing the new management plan for rock climbing. As one of its last official acts, the WMAA Executive Committee founded the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC). All WMAA members were encouraged to join the WMCC, which was chartered as a non-profit volunteer organization for the following purposes:

1) To provide guidance and assistance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on rock climbing issues at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR).

2) To provide volunteer support to the FWS for conservation projects at the WMWR.

3) To provide a Advisory Bolting Committee (ABC) to assist the FWS in reviewing fixed anchor protection at the WMWR.

4) To educate and inform the climbing community on issues regarding rock climbing and resource protection at the WMWR.

5) To coordinate efforts concerning rock climbing at the WMWR with the Access Fund and other interested organizations.

The goal of the WMCC is to preserve the integrity of both the WMWR's rock climbing resources and the natural environment in which rock climbing activity occurs. All climbers are asked to support the efforts of the WMCC and to join the organization. -Staff Report

OFFICERS SELECTED FOR WMCC POSITIONS

The WMAA Executive Committee unanimously selected the following applicants as the initial board members, officers, and ABC members for the WMCC:

Board of Directors: Eric Hobday Farmers Branch, Texas Marion Hutchison Norman, Oklahoma Julie Clardy Tulsa, Oklahoma

President: Tony Mayse Moore, Oklahoma

Secretary: Alex Holsinger Tulsa Oklahoma

Treasurer: Russell Hooper Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Advisory Bolting Committee: Jimmy Forester Dallas, Texas John Ferguson Richardson, Texas Tony Wilson Lindsey, Oklahoma

All of the appointees have significant climbing and professional experience that well qualifies them for these positions. They are all committed to balancing the need for climbing freedom and adventure, with the need to protect Refuge resources. The WMCC congratulates those selected and asks everyone in the climbing community to give them your full support. - Staff Report

NEW COOPERATIVE ERA BEGINS WITH SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

On May 6th, Refuge Manager Sam Waldstein and WMCC Board members signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which recognizes the goals and purposes of the FWS and the WMCC, and sets out the mutual agreements between the FWS and the WMCC in managing rock climbing activity at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Waldstein, new staff Recreational Planner Betsy Rosenbaum , and other Refuge personnel have made a tremendous effort to create a new cooperative relationship with the climbing community. The WMCC and Refuge management have already completed several important joint projects. First, a new rock climbing informational brochure has been designed and printed. This pamphlet is available to Refuge visitors at several locations, and provides important information on minimizing impacts to Refuge resources. Also, a new climbing and back country bulletin board has been installed at the Doris Campground Kiosk. Important notices and information for rock climbers and other back country users will be posted here. Both the brochure and the bulletin board were paid for by a grant from the Access Fund. Finally, Refuge Management and the Advisory Bolting Committee have completed work on the Fixed Anchor Application and Review Process. Future projects include trail rehabilitation in the "Narrows" and trash cleanups. The WMCC encourages everyone in the climbing community to join us in this new partnership with Refuge Management. If possible, take a few minutes to stop by Refuge headquarters and introduce yourself to Mr. Waldstein. Always make an effort to be friendly and cooperative with Refuge personnel and rangers. Remember, each of us are personal representatives for the climbing community on every visit to the Refuge. -Staff Report

PERMIT NOW REQUIRED FOR THE PLACEMENT OF FIXED ANCHORS ON THE REFUGE

The Advisory Bolting Committee (ABC) and Refuge Management have completed the new Fixed Anchor Application and Review Process. Anyone desiring to place, replace, or remove fixed anchors (bolts, pitons, etc.) in the WMWR must submit a Fixed Anchor Application form to Refuge headquarters. Refuge management, assisted by the ABC, will meet four times a year (quarterly) to review applications based upon certain aesthetic and natural resource criteria. New fixed gear routes will be evaluated using a high standard. Only quality routes that add to the Refuge's climbing diversity and meet all aesthetic and natural resource requirements will be approved. Applicants will be notified by mail within two weeks of the review date as to whether the application is approved or not approved. If approved, the applicant will also receive a permit outlining the terms and conditions for placing the authorized fixed anchors. The permit must be obtained before any installation may take place. For new route applications, only one application per person may be submitted per review period. For applications to replace bolts in the same location on existing routes, the review process will be expedited. Any person placing or removing fix anchors in the WMWR without a permit is subject to fines and penalties as specified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fixed Anchor Application and the General Rules and Review Criteria for Fixed Anchor Placements are available at Refuge headquarters. -Staff Report

WMCC MEMBERSHIP APPROACHING 100 - FUND-RAISING AND MEMBERSHIP DRIVE CONTINUES

Since founding of the WMCC at the beginning of 1996, membership has rapidly grown and is now approaching 100. The WMCC continues to solicit new members and has distributed membership forms to regional outdoor shops and climbing gyms. Membership in the WMCC requires one-time dues of only $5 and is open to anyone wishing to support the goals of the organization . No additional annual dues are required to remain a member, however an annual donation would be appreciated. Currently, the WMCC has received over $700.00 in dues and donations. This money will primarily be used to cover printing and postage costs for distributing the newsletter and other important information. All WMCC members are asked to present the enclosed membership form to someone you know who is interested in joining the WMCC. -Staff Report

EXPOSURE invites information news "Updates" related to climbing and the Refuge. Submit your story in 500 words or less.

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FROM THE PRESIDENT

Welcome to the first publication of "Exposure." It's been about two years of phone calls, meetings, letters and lots of patience, but we now have an Environmental Assessment that we, the climbing community and the Fish and Wildlife Service, can live with. Many thanks to Marion Hutchison for his diligence and tireless efforts that essentially secured climbing in the Wichita Mountains for generations to come. I also wish to thank the WMAA members and friends for contributing their time and invaluable expertise. Although we have crossed many hurdles, our job is not done. We plan to continue to work with Refuge officials in an effort to preserve the environment as well as the future of climbing. The face of climbing is changing all across the country. Gone are the days of wanton rappel bolting and other indiscriminate behaviors. This is the age of responsibility. Plan your new route well before applying for a fixed anchor permit. Remember that climbing in the Refuge will continue basically unchanged. It is up to each one of us to help protect this valuable resource. In closing, don't be afraid to let your voice be heard. Become a member of the WMCC. Attend meetings. Speak Out! Write a letter to the editor of this newsletter, (she is really sweet) and let us know what you think.
Happy Climbing! Tony Mayse, WMCC Prez

 

INSIGHTS

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW ••• A WORD ABOUT PROTECTING OUR RESOURCES

As is often the case, true appreciation comes only after the threat of certain loss. For many of us in the climbing community, that moment came with the realization that our days of adventure in the Refuge may soon be over. The thought of losing a "loved one" and a way of life was enough to give most of us a greater appreciation for this remarkable land that we too often take for granted. As a result, many of us have renewed our commitment to protecting our climbing resources and the natural environment of the Refuge.

We are all certainly aware that the Refuge offers some of the finest rock climbing in this part of the country. The high-quality granite, multi-pitch routes, and wilderness setting have made the Refuge a popular climbing destination. However, you may not be aware that along with this popularity has come noticeable impacts to our resources. Soil erosion, trail degradation, damage to trees, shrubs, lichen and mosses, litter, human waste, and proliferation of fixed anchors are all current concerns. As stewards of our climbing resources, it is our responsibility to insure that a healthy environment continues to be a part of our climbing experiences at the Refuge.

To achieve that goal, we must all commit ourselves to practicing "minimum impact" climbing techniques and "leave no trace" outdoor ethics when visiting the refuge. Our climbing resources are not limitless. Please value our vertical wilderness and work to reduce or prevent environmental impacts by adhering to the following climbing ethics:

* Know and respect environmentally sensitive areas. Fragile plants and soils, wildlife habitat, riparian zones, and wilderness areas require special attention.
* Climb and travel in small numbers. Disperse your activities.
* Use established trails to reach climbing areas. Short cuts cause plant damage and erosion.
* Keep your distance from wildlife. Avoid disturbing sensitive habitats and cliff nesting birds.
* Treat the rock gently. Do not chip, chisel, glue, or otherwise deface our rock resources. Leave the rock and surrounding area in its natural condition. Do not place fixed anchors without a permit.
* Minimize chalk use. Brush off heavily chalked holds when possible.
* Use natural colored nylon webbing if you must leave fixed slings.
* Pack out what you bring in. Do not leave tape, cigarette butts, food wraps and leftovers, or other litter. Remove and carry out old nylon slings. Leave the area cleaner than you found it.
* Dispose of human waste properly; whenever possible use restrooms. Otherwise, bury waste and carry out toilet paper in a plastic bag. Do not leave human waste within 200 feet of any water source or at he base of a climb.
* Be considerate of other visitors. Loud noise detracts from the wilderness setting and disturbs others. Do not tie up routes you are not using.
* Support conservation by taking part in organized clean-ups, trail rehabilitation, and other volunteer projects at the Refuge. Join the WMCC and the Access Fund.

It is up to each individual climber who uses the Refuge to accept responsibility for themselves and for the care of this fragile environment. Each climber is encouraged to do everything he or she can to prevent or reduce impact. These efforts will not only insure that each of our own climbing trips is a rewarding experience, they will also protect our resources for future visitors. -WMCC Board of Directors

EXPOSURE invites responsible "Insights" concerning climbing resource protection and conservation issues. Submit your views in 500 words or less.

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TALES FROM THE GRIPPED

THE BIG BITE by Duane Raleigh

I smelled Mark's shoes as he fell past the belay. Hot E.B. rubber smells like burning car tires. An acrid lingering in the nostrils that settles onto your tongue. It was the longest fall, somewhere around 100 feet, I had ever held. And still is.

I really thought Mark had made it up The Big Bite, a glassy stretch of granite immediately left of Quartz Mountain's popular S-Wall. He hiked the crux, a run-out stretch of dish smearing and single-digit crimping that had stopped power meister Jon Frank (he took a sweet 50-foot slider) that same season. But that section was nothing to Mark, and, I was a bit disappointed that he so easily dispatched what had given me the shakes the year before. "Can't he snivel, even a little bit?" I thought at the belay. Nope.

The last time I looked up to check, Mark's shoes were disappearing over the crest of the wall 60 feet above. "He's got the good edges on top," I told myself, then settled onto the belay bolts anticipating a cruiser top-rope run.

There was a scraping sound, then the shoes got big. And there was Herndie, skidding down the face, slow at first, then full bore. I've always admired the way he fell. Upright and in control. No scream. No whimper. Like a stone. He later told me he just popped off, started sliding, tried to catch himself on an edge but grazed it, and went on falling.

Forty feet into the fall and 10 feet above the belay Mark caught air where the wall steepens. There wasn't anything for me to do but to reel in arm loads of slack and try to keep him off of the lower knobs that would break James Dixon's ankle some five years later.

Mark hit the wall below the belay and resumed his grinding slide. There was surprisingly little jerk when the rope came taut -- skin and rubber make effective brake pads. By the time Mark stopped, his shoes needed a resole and wet strips of skin flapped off the palms of both hands. It looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to his butt.

I lowered Mark to the ground, then rapped off and drove us around in my old beat-up VW bug to Brent Choate's tailer, tucked in the cottonwoods at the other end of Quartz. I figured Brent had just what was needed for some quick pain relief. Mark wrapped his hands around a cool Bud, then off we went to my parent's house in Weatherford, 60 miles to the north.

That evening I had the pleasure of watching my mother pick lichen and grit out of Mark's butt and thigh. That probably smarted, but all I could think about was the smell of those stinking shoes.

Duane Raleigh was the leading force in pioneering many of Oklahoma's most difficult rock climbs in the Wichita and Quartz mountains during the late 70's and early 80's. Here, he recounts the now famous tale of Mark Herndon's 1981 attempt to repeat the still desperate "Big Bite" at Quartz Mountain. Duane is now editor for Climbing Magazine and resides in Redstone, Colorado.

EXPOSURE invites short stories of memorable Refuge adventures. Submit your epic tale in 500 words or less.

 

NATURE GUIDE

CATS IN THE WICHITAS by David Folkert, Friends of the Wichitas

Ringtail cats obviously received their name due to the black rings on their tails. They also have other names including: "Cacomistle", "Miner's Cat", and "Civet Cat". "Miner's Cat" was given them because they once were used by miners for rodent control. Their other name, "Civet Cat", suggests their ability to secrete a musky fluid from their anal glands if threatened by predators. "Cacomistle" is a conjecture of two Indian words for "half" and " mountain lion". Ringtails come from the cyonid family of carnivores which includes the raccoon and coati.

Ringtails are nocturnal. During the day they will sleep in dens and nests made of leaves and other forms of vegetation, or in the tree tops where they are noticed by their long dangling tails. At night, ringtails are very active creatures. They use their sharp, retractable claws for tree climbing and leaping from tree to tree. Their diet consists of rodents, small reptiles, birds, insects and berries. They usually ambush their prey by pouncing and killing with a single bite to the neck.

Ringtails grow to about 14-16 inches for the head and body, and the same for the tail. Ringtails have been spotted in the Wichita Mountains but only rarely. Approximately four years ago, I witnessed a ringtail early one morning on the road to my house. The ringtail was carrying a dead mouse in its mouth and stopped under a cedar. It laid down the mouse, and looked at me. After a few minutes of watching it, I left. One of the most recent sightings was by Debbie Folkert on February 23, 1996 at 5:45 a.m. just west of Camp Doris along the roadway.

Next time your are in the mountains, watch the trees and rocks for these unusual cats of the Wichitas. If you spot any, call the Refuge at (405) 429-3221. We will write them into the sightings record book.

EXPOSURE invites informative "Nature" articles about the animals, plants, and the rocks of the Refuge. Submit your article in 500 words or less.

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The WMCC would like to hear your comments about our organization, volunteer projects, the newsletter, the ABC, climbing ethics, resource protection, or other climbing related topics. Future issues of EXPOSURE will include selected letters to the editor. Send your thoughts and comments to EXPOSURE.

 

WMCC ANNOUNCEMENTS

The first semi-annual WMCC Refuge Cleanup is scheduled for the second Sunday in October. Coinciding with this event will be the first semi-annual WMCC Membership Meeting, which will take place the Saturday evening prior at 7pm in Camp Doris.

 

ABC ANNOUNCEMENTS

The new Fixed Anchor Application and General Rules and Revue Criteria for Fixed Anchors is now available at Refuge Headquarters. The ABC encourages the climbing community to limit new route applications requiring fixed anchors. The issue of bolt proliferation is still a significant concern of refuge management, and the climbing community should make every effort to show our willingness to limit bolting.

Please watch this column for details on new route activity, fixed anchor replacements, and other relevant information.

 

KUDOS TO...

...Eric Hobday, Larry Gustafson, and Julie Clardy for being presented a 1996 Sharp End Award by the Access Fund for their efforts with the WMAA.

Submit your climbing Kudos to EXPOSURE.

 

WMCC REQUESTS

* The WMCC is in search of a black and white logo design. Anyone with graphic art talent is encouraged to submit proposals.

* The WMCC would appreciate donations from its members and other supporting individuals or organizations. All money goes to pay for direct expenses for the newsletter and volunteer projects.

* Please help the WMCC to spread the news and reduce our costs by making copies of this newsletter and distribute it to interested individuals and organizations. - Please present the enclosed membership form to someone you know who is interested in joining the WMCC.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO...

...Clay Frisbee and Radz Rock Gym for donating $225.00 to the WMCC.

...Mountain High for donating $110.00 to the WMCC.

...The Access Fund for a grant to pay for the new climbing brochure and bulletin board.

...WMCC members for you support

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Dedicated to protecting the climbing resources and natural environment of the Wichita Mountains