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Pear and Apple, by Ryan Ray

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Exposure Volume 2, Spring 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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

 

UPDATES

CLIMBING MANAGEMENT BRINGS POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE REFUGE

Something new is in the air this spring. Climbers and Refuge personnel are stopping along the trail to discuss conservation projects or the days efforts on the wall; the circus-like crowds that so often plagued the Narrows are missing; individuals are renewing their commitment to environmental stewardship; and the "climbing community" is becoming a community. These and other positive changes are a result of the joint effort between the WMCC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage climbing activity at the Refuge.

Since implementing the new climbing management plan last May, Refuge Manager Sam Waldstein has nothing but praise for climbers efforts to abide by the new regulations and to assist with conservation projects. "The climbing community has put forward an exceptional effort. It has not only helped our relationship, but has had a positive effect on other visitors perception of climbing," he stated. "There now seems to be a better understanding of each groups views, values, and ideas," he added. Waldstein said that the cooperative relationship that has developed between his staff and the WMCC has helped USFWS officials to gain a greater appreciation for the climbing community's dedication to resource protection.

In its first nine months of activity, the WMCC has already provided substantial assistance to the Refuge on a number of important projects, including: design of a rock climbing brochure, installation of a climbing and backcountry bulletin board, development of a fixed anchor application and review process, organization of the first WMCC trash clean-up, preliminary work for the Narrows trail project, development of a comprehensive fixed anchor inventory, and consultation on numerous technical issues.

WMCC President Tony Mayse sees this work as a valuable investment in the future of climbing at the Refuge. "Our efforts to assist the US Fish and Wildlife Service in managing climbing activity will insure that quality climbing experiences remain available for future Refuge visitors," he stated. Mayse said the WMCC will continue to provide assistance to the Refuge at every opportunity and will encourage members of the climbing community to become involved whenever possible. -Staff Report

NARROWS TRAIL PROJECT ANNOUNCED - VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

The Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition has officially announced plans to reconstruct the Narrows trail this spring and has scheduled the following dates for work on this important conservation project: Saturday, April 26 - Sunday, April 27 Saturday, May 3 - Sunday, May 4 The WMCC will need thirty (30) motivated volunteers on each of the four days to help rebuild 2000' of this scenic trail from Boulder Cabin to the base of Zoo Wall. This valuable work will be done in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and will include volunteers from the WMCC, Access Fund, Texas Mountaineers, Sierra Club, Hikers Network, and other organizations. Mr. Jim Angel, President of the nationally recognized trail building firm of Corplan, will travel to the Refuge from Oregon to oversee the effort. Funding for the project is provided by a $4000 grant from the Access Fund. Marion Hutchison, Access Fund Regional Coordinator, said the endeavor is one of the most significant, privately funded conservation projects undertaken at the Refuge in years. "When complete, not only will this serve to reduce impacts to plants and soils, it will also stand as an important symbol of the climbing community's commitment to protecting Refuge resources," he said. "The Access Fund strongly supports conservation efforts like that being done by the WMCC because they have a tremendous positive effect on climber-land manager relations at all levels of a federal agency."

The WMCC urges all of its members to volunteer time to this important project. Please read and fill out the enclosed "Narrows Trail Project Volunteer Form" and return to the WMCC as soon as possible. You may also sign-up by contacting Marion Hutchison by phone, 405-364-9390, or by e-mail, MarioHutch@aol.com. Since it is critical that thirty volunteers are present each work day, sign-up only for those days which you are 100% committed to. If at all possible, please volunteer for at least two consecutive days. For those participating, free camping will be available on Friday and Saturday nights at Doris Campground. For more information, contact the WMCC. -Staff Report

REFUGE DESIGNATES NEW CLIMBING LIAISON

In years past, most climbers were more likely to catch a rare sighting of an Elk than to see Refuge personnel in the backcountry. However, don't be surprised now if someone in a Refuge uniform shows up at your belay and asks about your last attempt to get past that crux section or gives you some friendly advice on minimizing your impacts. That would probably be Betsy Rosenbaum, new Refuge Outdoor Recreational Planner and unofficial climbing ranger.

Ms. Rosenbaum transferred to the Refuge from New Mexico shortly after Mr. Waldstein became Refuge Manager last May. With her background in outdoor recreation and environmental education, she immediately became the Refuge's choice as new climbing liaison. Ms. Rosenbaum was instrumental in working with the WMCC to develop the new climbing brochure and fixed anchor application, to purchase the climbing and backcountry bulletin board, to help with the first WMCC trash clean-up, and to organize the Narrows Trail Project. In addition to these organizational duties, Ms. Rosenbaum has also taken a few rock climbing classes to better understand the activity she deals with.

"Before I arrived, all I had heard about rock climbing at the Refuge was of the user conflicts and serious environmental impacts," Ms. Rosenbaum stated. "However, after meeting various climbers and climbing groups, I found them to have a true spirit of cooperation and a genuine concern for the environment." Ms. Rosenbaum said that before she and Mr. Waldstein arrived, there was a general misconception among Refuge personnel about climbers' activities and their impacts. However, now that she has had a chance to directly observe and participate in the activity, she feels climbing creates no more of an impact than other backcountry uses, such as hiking.

So, the next time you top out on a climb to find Ms. Rosenbaum observing your edging technique, take a few minutes to visit with her. You'll walk away with a new appreciation for Refuge management and personnel. -Staff Report

VISITOR CENTER OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

On January 15th, the Refuge opened the doors of the new, state-of-the-art Visitor Center. The six million dollar, twenty-two thousand square foot facility features quality wildlife displays and numerous interactive exhibits. Refuge habitats are separated into four main areas: Rockland, Wetland, Grassland, and Timberland. The Visitor center also offers a hands-on section for kids, an auditorium featuring short films and videos, a small reference library, and a bookstore with topographic maps and other information. Since its opening, as many as two thousand people per day have been passing through the facility each weekend. The Visitor Center is located at the intersection of highway 49 and highway 115 on the Refuge, just east of Quanah Parker Lake. Hours are 10 am to 5:30 pm everyday, except Tuesday. Admittance is free. Next time you are at the Refuge, please take a few minutes to discover this exceptional facility. -Staff Report

WMCC APPOINTS NEW SECRETARY

The WMCC Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Rich Mitton as Secretary, effective August 15, 1996. Rich takes over the position from Alex Holsinger, who generously donated his time during the early stages of organizing the WMCC. So far, Rich's duties have included publishing the first WMCC newsletter and designing the WMCC web page. Judging from the looks of both, he has the job well under control. Many thanks to Alex and Rich for their efforts. -Staff Report

NEWSLETTER AND WEB PAGE SPREAD THE WORD

For many, a newsletter or web site is the only contact a person may have with an organization. That is why it is so important for the WMCC to provide quality information to the climbing community and other groups through our newsletter, "Exposure", and our Web page, http://www.flash.net/~climber1/index.html. And thanks to the untiring efforts of our Publisher, Rich Mitton, and our Editor, Lori Boren, the WMCC is successfully spreading important news about climbing and conservation issues at the Refuge, not to mention a few long-winded, unbelievable epic tales of daring adventure. But as important as their work is to developing an excellent publication, so too are the thoughts and ideas of our readers. So, the next chance you get, please take a few minutes to send a letter or e-mail to the editor with your comments or suggestions. And if you've recently soloed League of Doom barefoot in the winter, survived an unroped fall from the top of Elk Slab, or been attacked in your tent by a herd of 20 buffalo, well then you might want to mention that also. -Staff Report

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FROM THE BOARD

In our first year, the WMCC has achieved a number of worthwhile objectives. From providing assistance on implementing the new climbing management plan to organizing conservation projects, we have demonstrated our ability to build a positive working relationship with Refuge Management. But our work doesn't stop here. If we wish to insure continued climbing opportunities at the Refuge in the future, the WMCC and the rest of the climbing community must be willing to commit the resources necessary to help provide continued support to the Refuge.

The WMCC is thankful for and appreciates the moral and financial support of its members and others within the climbing community. However, in the end, the key to our success will not be measured by the number of our members or the amount in our checking account, but by the willingness of each individual to actively participate in our projects. Climber activism is a requirement, not an option, if we are to succeed in our efforts. Sure it requires time and commitment, but that's a small price to pay for the freedom and adventure we are privileged to enjoy. Climber activism provides each of us an opportunity to give something in return; to the environment, to those we share our resources with, and to the future of climbing. So the next time you have the opportunity to participate, please volunteer your time. Your efforts will make a difference.

 

IN MEMORY

The WMCC wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Jack Mileski, who died in his home in Colorado Springs in January. Jack, a longtime Dallas resident, was an exceptionally talented climber whose style and abilities inspired a whole generation of young climbers. Jack was also an advocate for access, and on several occasions he graciously provided benefit slide shows for the Access Fund and the Wichita Mountains Access Association. He will certainly be missed.

 

INSIGHTS

Climbing and Leave No Trace
By Phil Powers National Outdoor Leadership School

The weekend's finally here, and it's time to climb. You've checked the guidebook and know the gear needed for every pitch. The rope, harness, shoes, quick draws, cams, stoppers, rain gear, water, and a few Clifbars are packed. But have you planned equally well to leave no trace?
Leave No Trace. Taken literally, the phrase sounds pretty unrealistic. Everybody knows zero impact is impossible. But this literal interpretation ignores the goals of the program. Leave No Trace is about making better choices. Choices such as where to camp, when to build fires, and whether to place a fixed anchor. Choices that can decrease our impact on the land without denying the fact that some will occur with every outdoor activity.

Horse packers, backpackers, snowmobilers, and now climbers are rallying around Leave No Trace, a phrase first coined by the Forest Service more than 20 years ago. Since its inception, Leave No Trace has grown into a large educational program and partnership between public and private land users. The program's goal is simple, to help people do a better job of using public lands. Leave No Trace maintains a realistic set of expectations. Any improvement is a step in the right direction. The program's slogan represents a goal that, though it may never be reached, is simple and easy to remember.

Through the following set of six basic principles, Leave No Trace strives to point out simple ways to reduce human impact on the land:

1) Plan Ahead and Prepare
2) Camp and travel on durable surfaces.
3) Pack it in, pack it out.
4) Properly Dispose of What You Can't Pack Out.
5) Leave What You Find
6) Minimize Use and Impact from Fires

Methods include using a stove rather than burning scarce wood, packing out your toilet paper, and using removable protection or natural anchors wherever possible. Once learned, the principles can serve as a reminder of the little things one can do to decrease impact, but they are only guidelines. Ultimately, individuals must make their own decisions and choose their own compromises.

Climbers, who know the importance of fixed anchors and have witnessed the increased number of them in their sport, may wonder how the Leave No Trace movement will affect them. The movement does not demand the abolishment of bolting or the end of route development. Instead it asks that people consider the implications of these actions before they commit them. Instead of saying leave no rappel slings, Leave No Trace suggests we clean the old unsafe ones and leave only those we need. Instead of eliminating fixed anchors, Leave No Trace challenges each climber to think about the climbs they choose, the fixed protection they place, and the paths they hike. It asks us to question whether new development will really diversify climbing opportunities or just add more. Obviously once new routes are pioneered, use follows, and use brings impact. Leave No Trace means asking whether the routes are worth the impact they will inevitably bring to an area.

One of the great successes of the Leave No Trace program is that it offers people suggestions and then leaves the responsibility to the individual. If we each take some of that responsibility for improving our own habits, America's land and water will benefit. It's not surprising that the program is changing people's habits for the better. Most outdoor recreationists agree that they can do a better job, and given the principles of Leave No Trace, they do.

And climbers can as well. The Leave No Trace program is in the midst of adapting its principles so that they make sense and can offer concrete suggestions for those of us who work and play in the vertical world. Leave No Trace is an opportunity for the climbing community to organize around an identifiable national program that protects our dwindling resources. It's a chance for the world to see that climbers are just as concerned with the quality of the sport as the quantity. Once aware of the simplicity of the principles, even such a diverse group as climbers may find themselves picking up litter, being more conscious of trampling issues, burying human waste, making anchors more discreet, and admitting that they to strive to "Leave No Trace."

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 Too
By Tony Mayse

Climbing in the Refuge is usually a wonderful experience with all of the beautiful surrounding scenery, lichen-covered boulders scattered throughout the approach trails, buffalo, and long horned steers grazing on the rough terrain. The place is just teaming with wildlife.

While walking my dogs on one of my many trips to the refuge I decided to take them off the leash. With very few people out during the weekdays I saw no harm in it. Attempting to catch up to them I cut off the trail and headed into the trees. I felt what seemed like some underbrush scrape my left calve. But the blood running down my lower leg told a different tale. At the same time a recoil like figure caught the corner of my eye. As I turned around to see what this was I notice a coiled diamond back rattler just below the outcrop of granite. Surely, he didn't bite me?

After a few "OH DARNS," well maybe a little more than Oh-darn, I took the dog leash a fashioned a tourniquet above the bite area. Arriving at my truck, I called 911 on the cell phone. Driving a standard with one leg sucks, but I made it to camp Doris before MR. PAIN kicked in. Ten minutes after the bite my breathing became shallow, almost as though my scuba instructor had turned off my regulator, simulating an empty tank. The ranger explained that the bite was normal and gave me some oxygen. Once at the ER the cramp like pain was unbearable. I wanted something for the pain pronto! After 24 hours in the ER , I spent most of the time vomiting and falling out of consciousness with my blood pressure 44/12 at one point. Three and a half days later, I was released in a wheel chair and the next three weeks were spent on crutches.

Take it from me, rattlesnakes at the refuge are bad news should they inadvertently mistake you for prey. Chances are you'll never see one, let alone have the misfortune to get bit by one. But if you do get bit, remain calm, wipe off the bite area, and tourniquet at the 1st joint above the bite. Unless you are in a remote area seek medical attention ASAP. It takes the hospital some time to thaw out the anti-venom because it's kept frozen. Don't think about sucking the venom out by mouth that's just for Hollywood.

On the bright side Oklahoma has fewer than 15 rattlesnake bites per year, so the odds are in your favor. Just stay on the trails and if you do happen to step off the beaten path keep a watchful eye, especially April and early May. Contrary to popular belief, rattlers don't always rattle, especially if the rattlers are missing.

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

 

NATURE GUIDE

Rattlesnakes!
By David Folkert, Friends of the Wichitas

If you haven't seen a Rattlesnake while in the Witchita Mountains, then you probably will in the future. There are a few different species of Rattlesnake that exist in the Wichitas. Rattlesnakes have received a bad reputation mainly because they are poisonous and are said to be fatal. They are poisonous, but cases of fatalities from Rattlesnakes are very rare. Rattlesnakes are not out to hunt you, but are out to eat small, warm-blooded animals, such as cottontail rabbits, prairie dogs, birds, eggs, and other reptiles, mammals, and amphibians.

Rattlesnakes obviously get their name from the rattles on their tail that is caused by the molting of the skin to form a new segment. The main purpose of the rattle is to warn off any predators that it may encounter. If the warning does not work, it will then prepare to strike or escape. Sometimes Rattlesnakes do not even give a warning before striking. Many believe that a Rattlesnakes age can be determined by the number of rattles on its tail, but this is untrue. Sometimes their rattles can break off or other things may occur.

Rattlesnakes use their tongue to smell and it cannot hear. Rattlesnakes feel the tremors on the ground as you walk and can sense body heat and odors. They can be seen sunbathing to regulate their body temperature when the day is cool, usually on rocks in the trails or on the rocky mountainsides. Most likely you might sight a Rattlesnake during the Spring when it emerges form its den to mate. During the hot part of the Summer, Rattlesnakes will hide in the shade or in their dens and emerge only at night when it is cooler.

Rattlesnakes will usually give warning but just be careful when climbing on rocky ledges or even just walking down a trail. Wear boots or long pants and always watch before taking a step and placing your hand anywhere. If you are cautious then your chances of having trouble with a Rattlesnake are greatly reduced.

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 ANNOUNCMENTS

NARROWS TRAIL WORK SCHEDULED - VOLUNTEER TODAY!

The Narrows Trail Project is scheduled for Saturday, April 26th; Sunday, April 27th; Saturday, May 3rd; and Sunday, May 4th. Thirty (30) volunteers are needed for each of the four work days. The WMCC urges our members to volunteer for this important conservation project. Please read and fill out the attached Narrows Trail Project Volunteer Form and return it to the WMCC as soon as possible. Camping for volunteers is available on both Friday and Saturday nights in Group Site A at Doris Campground and will be paid for by the WMCC. For more information, see Updates article in this issue or call the WMCC.

PETER CROFT will be presenting a slide show at 7pm on April 1st at the OSU Wellness Center Auditorium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Tickets are $7.00. For more information, call 405-744-5581.

 

ABC ANNOUNCMENTS

The Advisory Bolting Committee would like to express our thanks to the climbing community for abiding by the new regulations for fixed anchors. We are encouraged by the fact that no reports of unauthorized bolt placements have been made, and that applications for new fixed anchor placements have been minimal. We ask climbers to continue supporting our efforts to control bolt proliferation by limiting applications for new fixed anchor placements. Your help is appreciated.

 

KUDOS TO...

...Rich and Pam Mitton on the birth of Kylie.

...Joe and Rhonda Ripperger on the birth of Michael and Grace.

Submit your climbing Kudos to EXPOSURE

 

WMCC REQUESTS

* The WMCC is still searching for a black and white logo design. Anyone with an idea is encouraged to submit a proposal.

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

* Help the WMCC spread the news. Please make copies of this newsletter and distribute them to interestee individuals and organizations.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO...

...The Texas Mountaineers for helping to make the WMCC trash clean-up a success.

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