Exposure Volume 4, Winter 1998
TABLE OF CONTENTS
From the Board
WMCC SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR OFFICERS
As the WMCC approaches its third anniversary, we can proudly look back on three very successful years of service to the Refuge and the climbing community. At the heart of that success was the dedication and effort of our officers and staff. Hundreds of hours of volunteer service were provided by President Tony Mayse, Secretary Rich Mitton, Treasurer Russell Hooper, Editor Lori Boren, and Advisory Bolting Committee members Jimmy Forester, Tony Wilson, and John Ferguson. Their efforts insured that the WMCC's mission to protect our climbing resources and the natural environment of the Refuge was fulfilled.
Unfortunately, none of us have unlimited time and energy to give. With the demands of work and family, not to mention some free time for climbing, volunteer service is a finite commodity.
As we enter our fourth year, Tony, Rich and Lori have finished their period of official service for the WMCC. Many thanks are due them for all of their time and efforts.
To fill those vacancies, the WMCC Board of Directors is now accepting nominations and/or applications from its members. We are seeking dedicated individuals who could serve for a two- year period. The primary duties of each of the available positions is as follows:
- Professionally represent the WMCC to Refuge officials, media representatives, WMCC sponsors, and other organizations, as needed.
- Provide direction and momentum for the organization.
- Provide regular contact with Refuge officials to 1) discuss current climbing activity, 2) review problems or concerns, and 3) determine the need for volunteer or other support.
- Work directly with Refuge officials, the Access Fund , and other groups to organize any necessary volunteer efforts or service projects.
- Oversee the work of the Secretary, Treasurer, and Editor.
- Review the activities of the Advisory Bolting Committee.
- Maintain the WMCC membership data base.
- Maintain a contact list of gyms, clubs, outdoor shops, and other organizations.
- Print and distribute the WMCC newsletter.
- Maintain the WMCC web site.
- Collect and edit articles and information for the WMCC newsletter.
- Assist the Secretary with printing and distribution.
In order to continue to fulfill our commitments to the Refuge and the climbing community, it is important that the WMCC have a significant number of dedicated members who are willing to periodically serve in an official capacity.
If you or someone you know is interested in serving in one of the above described positions, please return the enclosed "WMCC Nomination -Application Form", or call or email the WMCC.
BOARD SUBMITS CHARTER AMENDMENT FOR ANNUAL DUES
The WMCC Board of Directors is submitting to the members a proposal to amend the organizations charter to require annual membership dues of $5.00. This would replace the current system where an initial one-time dues payment is required to join, followed by optional annual donations. The Board believes this amendment is necessary to maintain both a solid financial position and a committed membership base.
Currently, the WMCC has approximately 120 members, most of whom joined in 1996. Initial dues from our members, as well as annual donations from our corporate sponsors, has provided us with the necessary funding to cover the costs for a wide range of important projects. Those included printing the WMWR Rock Climbing Brochure, printing and distributing four issues of the WMCC newsletter, and organizing numerous trail building and clean-up efforts.
While the WMCC still maintains a relatively healthy account balance, future project expenditures would eventually eliminate that without continued annual donations from our members. Unfortunately, in the last two years the WMCC has received only a few annual donations, even though several requests have been made for support.
Therefore, in order to insure that the WMCC will be able to fulfill its mission well into the future, the Board encourages all members to support this amendment.
Please Note: Members who support the proposed amendment need not respond to register your vote as "YES". Those opposed to the amendment have 30 days to register your "NO" vote by returning the enclosed CHARTER AMENDMENT BALLOT. If you do not respond within 30 days, your vote will be officially considered as "YES".
NARROWS TRAIL RECEIVES ADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
Twenty volunteers showed up April 20th for a one-day effort to make additional improvements to the Narrows Trail. Overseeing the work once again was trail building expert Jim Angell, of Bend Oregon. The work at the Refuge was one stop on Mr. Angell's 3-month long, nation -wide trail building spree sponsored by the Access Fund. Those that participated in last years successful Narrows Trail Project will remember Mr. Angell and the success of that two-day effort. This time, work was concentrated on the steep section of trail prior to making the second crossing of West Cache Creek. Volunteers suffered through poison ivy and a den of nesting copperheads to rebuild this short but difficult section of trail.
EXPOSURE invites news "Updates" related to climbing and the Refuge.
REFUGE NOTES By Betsy Rosenbaum, WMWR
Mast Helicopter No Longer Used
The U.S. Army announced a new policy for helicopter missions during the summer of 1998. The M.A.S.T. (Mobile Air Safety Transport) helicopters will no longer be used to transport civilian personnel due to potential liability. The U.S. Army is in the process of converting their helicopter fleet from the 1960's vintage Huey aircraft to the Blackhawk model aircraft. The Blackhawks are much larger, less maneuverable, and do not have the hoist capability for medical evacuation. Without helicopter assistance, all future rescues will require more people and considerably more time to get the injured out of the backcountry and to medical treatment. Climb safe!
More Road Work Scheduled
More road re-paving is scheduled for the fall and winter of 1998-99. The section of road from Refuge headquarters to Treasure Lake and Post Oak Lake Trailhead and Parking Area are currently being re-paved. Parking areas at Sunset and French Lake have been completed. The section from the Meers "T" to the north boundary will be re-paved in the near future, as will all other parking areas in the Public Use Area that are not already paved. The work will be done continuously during the next several months, depending on the weather, and will involve some weekend days. Please allow extra travel time and expect some delays.
Special Elk Hunts Planned
Special hunts are planned for managing the elk herd population on the Refuge. The hunts will be held December 8-10 and December 15-17, and include portions of the Public Use Area. There are no natural predators, and hunts are necessary to maintain healthy populations and to maintain adequate habitat for the grazing herd.
If you are planning a visit to the Refuge during those time, please be aware that the roads are open for through traffic only, and that some of the parking areas will be closed. Please inquire at the Visitor Center or at Refuge Headquarters for information on open and closed areas.
Upgrading of Routes Continues
The Advisory Bolting Committee is pleased to report that a number of existing routes in the Refuge have been recently upgraded with new fixed anchors. As a result, you can now concentrate on your climbing technique instead of worrying about those outdated bolts.
In the Narrows, "League of Doom" and "Masters of Reality" had their belay bolts upgraded, while "Lycra Sheath" and "Nuclear Combat" had all of their lead bolts replaced.
On the Thunderdome formation in the Meadows, a two-bolt belay/rappel station was added to the top of "Taco Time". The ABC encourages all climbers on Thunderdome to use this rappel station for descent. By doing so, you will help to prevent erosion caused by downclimbing the formation.
All of the upgrades were completed using camouflaged bolt hangers, as required by Refuge regulations. By doing so, any potential visual or aesthetic impact to Refuge character or to other Refuge visitors due to the old fixed anchors was eliminated.
Please Note: "Love Potion #8", in the Narrows, and "Foolish Behavior", on Mr. Scott, were not upgraded, even though permits were issued for those routes.
In other news, the ABC recently met with Refuge officials to review several fixed anchor applications received in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 1998. Those include several noteworthy replacement applications, including a comprehensive proposal to upgrade all fixed anchors on Elk Slab. Watch for details of the results of these reviews in the next issue of Exposure.
The ABC wishes to thank the climbing community for supporting our efforts to insure that our climbing resources and the natural character of the Refuge are preserved. We are especially grateful to those individuals actively involved in the replacement of outdated fixed anchors, and we encourage other qualified climbers to take part in this ongoing effort.
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FROM THE BOARD
The Board wishes to express its sincere thanks to President Tony Mayse, Secretary Rich Mitton, and Editor Lori Boren for their many hours of volunteer service to the WMCC and the climbing community. Their efforts were instrumental in building broad support for our organization within the climbing community, in creating a successful working relationship with Refuge officials, and to insuring that our climbing resources at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge were preserved.
Defining Wilderness By Marion Hutchison
Webster's Dictionary defines wilderness as "a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings." By that definition, just about any parcel of remote, unimproved land could be considered wilderness, from the lofty peaks of the Brooks range in Alaska to the backwoods of Arkansas. In fact, if you ask someone to describe their image of wilderness, you will likely hear as many different answers to the question as the number of persons that you ask.
The family camping in site #8 at Dead Horse Point, just a few blocks away from Park Headquarters, are appreciating their wilderness. The fly fisherman casting to rising cutthroats on the Yellowstone River, just out of view of Highway 89, is cherishing his wilderness. And, the rock climbers, on the second pitch of League of Doom at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and only minutes from their car, are enjoying their wilderness.
These people all share a similar awareness, in which their own perceptions of their surroundings have more to do with what they consider to be a wilderness experience than some factual definition or line on a map. In other words, borrowing a quote from Doug Robinson, "wilderness is between your ears."
There is, however, another type of wilderness out there. One in which the definition is far less nebulous, and the designation much more official.
Welcome to the National Wilderness Preservation System, a collection of federally owned lands which were designated as official "wilderness areas" by Congress under the authority of The Wilderness Act of 1964.
Under the Act, the word "wilderness" becomes a legal term defining the specific characteristics of certain federal lands. As stated in the Act, "wilderness is...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain...an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions, and which 1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; 2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; 3) has at least five thousand acres of land..."
The Act also specifically describes how these "wilderness areas" are to be managed, and states, "...each agency shall be responsible for preserving the wilderness character of the area...(and) ...wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use...(and)...there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area...(and)...there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area."
Designated wilderness areas represent the best and the last of the country's most spectacular wildlands. Those few remaining natural landscapes not compromised by the work of man. They are special places that challenge the spirit and inspire the soul. Because of these unique values, one of the guiding principles of the Wilderness Act is to preserve the wild and natural character of these lands to as high a degree as possible. And yet, these wilderness areas were not meant to be set aside merely for man to glimpse from the outside. On the contrary, the Wilderness Act has at its core the goal of providing outstanding opportunities for a "primitive and unconfined recreation." This dual purpose requires that designated wilderness areas be carefully managed to preserve both wilderness character and wilderness recreational opportunities.
To date, Congress has designated more than 100 million acres of wilderness in our National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and on Bureau of Land Management lands. Open any National Forest, National Park, or other agency land map and chances are you will find the boundaries of one or more designated wilderness areas clearly outlined.
More than half of all designated wilderness areas are found in Alaska, while nearly one-third are located in the western half of the lower 48 states. Much of the latter includes some of the country's most popular rock climbing areas. Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Joshua Tree, Taquitz and Suicide, Mt. Whitney and the High Sierra, Charlotte Dome, Mount Lemmon, Mount Index, Mt. Stuart, the Sawtooths, the Cirque of the Towers, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, are wholly or partly within designated wilderness. You might not realize it, but even the Charons Garden Wilderness Area in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a congressionally designated wilderness area.
Technical rock climbing is a historic, wilderness activity that has been taking place on our public lands since the 1930's. It has long been accepted by federal land managers as a legitimate use of wilderness. Wilderness climbing is without question a "primitive and unconfined recreation," providing climbers with outstanding opportunities for unique wilderness adventures. However, one particular climbing practice, the use of fixed anchors, has recently been questioned by some wilderness land managers, threatening to eliminate a majority of historic wilderness climbing opportunities.
Fixed anchors have been an integral part of climbers safety systems since technical rock climbing began more than 60 years ago. Many of the country's most historic wilderness climbing routes required the use of fixed anchors during their first ascent. The Northwest Face of Half Dome, the Nose on El Capitan, the Diamond on Longs Peak, and the North Face of Mt. Hooker, to name a few, could not have been accomplished without the use of fixed anchors. And, it is those same fixed anchors which have provided thousands of climbers the opportunity to experience an outstanding wilderness adventure by repeating those classic routes.
While the Wilderness Act specifically prohibits the use of "motorized equipment" in designated wilderness areas, which certainly includes battery-powered drills, the Act does not specifically address the use of fixed anchors. The Act does define wilderness areas as "without permanent improvements or human habitation" and containing "no structure or installation." However, this language appears to be referring to constructions such as buildings, roads, bridges, dams, electrical lines, drainage pipes, and other improvements supporting human occupation. There is no evidence to suggest that the authors of the Wilderness Act intended this language to prohibit climbers use of tiny fixed safety anchors, thereby largely eliminating wilderness climbing.
At the time the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, federal land managers were certainly aware of the fact that technical rock climbing was a recreational use of wilderness. And, since pitons and bolts were the only protection devices available at the time, climbers use of fixed anchors was also a familiar activity. It is reasonable to conclude that if language in the Wilderness Act was intended to prohibit the use of fixed anchors, then wilderness managers would have prohibited their use 34 years ago. However, that is not the case. For more than 30 years, climbers use of fixed safety anchors in wilderness areas has been accepted as a legitimate activity.
Other language in the Act defines wilderness as "generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable." Based on this wording, the Wilderness Act does not demand that wilderness areas be pristine lands with absolutely no imprint from recreational use. Rather, it allows for minimal impacts, so long as they do not significantly alter wilderness character. Fixed anchors, which in most instances are invisible to anyone but the ascending climber, certainly qualify as "substantially unnoticeable." Properly managed, their occasional use supports wilderness values by providing opportunities for wilderness climbing.
Climbers hold a deep appreciation for wilderness, and for the unique experiences that wilderness climbing offers. Because of that, climbers have historically been some of the strongest supporters of wilderness preservation. Today, with the number of wilderness visitors continuing to increase, that support is more critical than ever. As wilderness managers work to find the proper balance between providing recreational opportunities and protecting wilderness resources, it is essential that all wilderness visitors support those efforts. By adopting a higher standard of environmental responsibility, wilderness users can help to insure that their activities do not adversely impact wilderness resources or character. For climbers, that means adhering to the following practices:
1) Commit yourself to the principles of "Leave No Trace"
2) Limit your use of chalk, or use colored chalk which matches the rock.
3) Avoid leaving slings, if possible. Where you must leave a sling, use natural colored webbing.
4) Remove and carry-out old slings.
5) When contemplating a new route that may require a fixed anchor(s), seriously consider whether the route adds significantly to the areas wilderness climbing opportunities.
6) Only place fixed anchors as a last resort.
7) If you must place a fixed anchor, always use a hand-drill and camouflaged hangers.
8) Restrict bolt-intensive route development to other areas outside designated wilderness.
9) In areas with a fixed anchor permitting system, adhere to the process and abide by the rules.
10) Follow all wilderness regulations.
Unlike that personal wilderness "between your ears", designated wilderness is a finite resource. Only by supporting its management and embracing its values, can we preserve the unique character of wilderness that provides us all with such outstanding wilderness experiences.
EXPOSURE invites responsible "Insights" concerning climbing resource protection and conservation issues.
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"Dreamboat Annie"(5.10c), By Tony Mayse
This short, but definitely sweet, little jewel lies on top of Mt. Scott, just a minutes walk west from the parking area. "Dreamboat Annie" is an arching finger crack on a vertical wall, with just a few little nubbins for your feet.
The route can be easily top-roped with a couple of medium-sized cams. But, for a real pump factor, jump on the sharp end. The locks are excellent and the pro is bomber, but placing gear in a fingertip layback can be pretty strenuous.
The only downfall of the route is its length, at a mere 25 feet. But, what a blast. So, the next time you are wanting a quick run on a route and have little time, check out the classic "Dreamboat Annie" on Mt. Scott.
EXPOSURE invites articles describing "classic" Refuge climbs.
Taken For Granite By Marion Hutchison
So, you've already made plans for your first big trip to Yosemite Valley. Two weeks of spectacular crack and friction climbing on some of the world's finest granite. Hmmmm. Did you say GRANITE? I don't mean to alarm you, but I hope you like climbing on MONZONITE.
While the word "granite" is frequently used by climbers to describe just about any type of hard, crystalline rock, the term is actually precise geologic nomenclature describing just one particular type of igneous rock.
Unlike sedimentary rock, which is formed from the eroded materials of existing strata, or metamorphic rock, which is formed from the heating and pressurization of existing strata, igneous rock is formed from the solidification of magma from within the Earth.
Igneous rocks are generally subdivided into two main groups, intrusive(also known as plutonic) and extrusive(also known as volcanic). Intrusive rocks cooled and solidified under the surface of the Earth and were later uplifted and exposed above the surface, while extrusive rocks formed from lava extruded above the surface.
While there are certainly many fine extrusive climbing areas in the United States, such as Smith Rocks and the Owens River Gorge, the majority of igneous climbing areas are composed of intrusive rocks. Cathedral Ledge, Stone Mountain, Enchanted Rock, the Wichita Mountains, Longs Peak, the Wind Rivers, City of Rocks, the Sierra Nevada, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite Valley all offer fabulous climbing opportunities on intrusive rock. Igneous rocks vary significantly in their texture and mineralogical composition, and it is these characteristics by which igneous rocks are named and identified.
Texture refers to the appearance a rock has due to the size, shape, and configuration of its mineral constituents. In most cases, the grain size of igneous rocks is directly related to how quickly they cooled. The quicker magma cools and hardens, the less time is available for crystal growth, and the resulting rock has a finer-grained texture. A good example of this process is a type of rock known as "Obsidian". Obsidian is formed when magma cools so quickly that there is virtually no time for crystal growth, resulting in the finest of textures and a rock referred to as "natural glass". While not the ideal climbing medium, Obsidian does make a nice addition to a mineral collection. Igneous rock of this type, where the individual grains are too small to be seen without a microscope, is referred to as an"aphanite" and is typically extrusive.
Fortunately for you, most igneous rocks cooled much more slowly, resulting in varying textures that offer unique climbing experiences, from smearing on fine-grained rock to edging on individual coarse-grained crystals. Igneous rock of this type, where the individual mineral grains are apparent to the naked eye, is referred to as a "phanerite" and is usually intrusive.
Phanerites can be described as being either fine, medium, or coarse-grained. In addition, they can be further categorized based upon the consistency of their grain size. Rock in which grains are of similar size are called "equiangular". Rock made up of significantly larger crystals surrounded by a matrix of smaller grains is referred to as a "porphyry", with the larger crystals known as "phenocrysts". Remember your last visit to Tuolumne Meadows? Well, those slippery "knobs" that you always had a white-knuckle grip on were actually large phenocrysts.
In addition to textural characteristics, igneous rocks are also classified based upon their mineralogical composition. For phanerites, which represent the majority of igneous climbing areas, this classification system is based upon the relative amounts of "felsic" and "mafic" minerals. Felsics include the light-colored minerals "quartz", "alkali-feldspar", and "plagioclase feldspar". Mafics include dark colored minerals, like "hornblende" and "biotite".
"Granite" is a term describing just one of a number of types of intrusive phanerites. Others include "Granodiorite", "Tonalite", "Monzonite", "Syenite", "Diorite", and "Gabbro". This nomenclature is based on a classification system which identifies rock type by the specific percentages of quartz, alkali-feldspar, and plagioclase found in the rock. To be considered a true Granite, the rock must contain the following:
Alkali-feldspar: 35-90% of feldspars
Plagioclase: 10-65% of feldspars
Biotite, Muscovite, Hornblende : 5-20%
Based on those percentages, there is a wide variety of igneous rocks that fall under the classification of Granite. However, many so-called Granite climbing areas are not that at all. In fact, much of the igneous rock which makes up Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada is actually monzonite and granodiorite. I hate to tell you this, but if it's real Granite you want, you're going to have to cancel that trip to the Valley and go somewhere else. But where, you ask? Why, where else. The Wichitas.
The igneous rocks of the Wichita Mountains were formed more than 500 million years ago, when massive amounts of magma intruded upward into the earths crust and solidified. About 200 million years later, those same rocks were lifted high above the surrounding plains during an intense mountain-building episode. Millions of years of subsequent erosion exposed those intrusive rocks and created the unique formations that are present today. These phanerites include two geologically well-known Granites.
Mt. Scott Granite, which covers much of the Refuge north of Highway 49, is easily identified due to its pink color. This results from an abundance of fine to medium-grained crystals of alkali feldspar. In addition to the alkali feldspar, the Mt. Scott Granite also contains a fair amount of quartz, some grey-colored plagioclase feldspar, and a few scattered black crystals of hornblende and biotite.
Quanah Granite is pink to rust-beige in color and made up primarily of quartz and alkali feldspar. It is found throughout most of the public use area, and is easily distinguishable from Mt. Scott Granite by its coarser-grained, sometimes porphyritic texture. You probably didn't know it, but many of those tiny "edges" you are always struggling to keep your feet on are actually coarse- grained alkali feldspar crystals.
So, the next time you're about to skate off of your favorite friction testpiece at the Wichitas, take a good close look at the rock, and remember: that's no Monzonite you're sketchin' on, that's some real Granite.
EXPOSURE invites informative articles about the plants, animals, and rocks of the Refuge.
Veteran Himalayan Climber Ed Viesturs To Present Slide Show
Ed Viesturs, who could soon become the first American to reach the summit of all fourteen 8000 meter peaks without the use of supplemental oxygen, will present slide shows on some of his Himalayan adventures at the following places and times:
Saturday, December 12, 1998 - 7:30 p.m.
Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church
4102 E. 61st Street
Sunday, December 13, 1998 - 7:30 p.m.
OKC Fair Grounds
City Arts Center
3000 General Pershing Boulevard
Monday, December 14, 1998 - 7:30 p.m.
Student Union Building (2nd floor)
University of Texas at Dallas
2601 North Floyd Road
Admission is free.
The WMCC is requesting donations from its members and other supporting individuals or organizations to help ensure our continued success. All monies go to direct project expenses, such as printing and postage for the newsletter, telephone expenses, and equipment and supplies for important conservation projects. If at all possible, please fill out the attached Donation Form and return to the WMCC. Thank you.
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