Exposure Volume 5, Winter 2000
TABLE OF CONTENTS
From the Board
NEW FIXED ROUTES IN CHARONS GARDEN ON HOLD
Refuge Manager Sam Waldstein recently announced his decision to place a temporary moratorium on the placement of new fixed anchors in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. This action is the result of ongoing reviews at the national level by the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine whether or not fixed anchors are acceptable under the terms of the Wilderness Act.
Much of the current debate revolves around a recent determination by the USFS (an agency of the Department of Agriculture) that fixed anchors are illegal under the terms of the Wilderness Act (see "Access Denied" by Jeff Achey, Climbing Magazine, Issue No. 180, November 1, 1998). This decision was challenged by the Access Fund, forcing the USFS to undergo a Negotiated Rulemaking Process. That process involves the formation of a diversified committee made up of USFS officials and representatives from various interest groups who will attempt to negotiate an appropriate policy. The formation of that committee is soon to be announced, but it could be a year or more before a final determination is made.
Prior to the USFS ruling, the NPS and BLM were preparing to issue new wilderness management policies regarding lands under their control. Based on those plans, fixed anchors would be considered acceptable under the Wilderness Act, but would be subject to local regulation to protect wilderness values. At about the same time, the USFWS began work on finalizing new wilderness management guidelines for lands under their supervision. Their initial reviews resulted in internal recommendations to interpret fixed anchors to be illegal under the Wilderness Act. However, the Department of Interior (which oversees the NPS, BLM, and USFWS) issued orders directing all three agencies to: 1) make a uniform interpretation of the Wilderness Act with respect to fixed anchors, and 2) wait to finalize new wilderness management policies until the USFS Negotiated Rulemaking Process is complete.
As a result of this ongoing process, the Refuge Manager has determined that it is appropriate at this time to temporarily place on hold all applications for placing new fixed anchors in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area, pending the outcome of these reviews.
Please note, this temporary moratorium does not apply to applications for the replacement of existing fixed anchors in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. Refuge Management continues to be very supportive of fixed anchor replacement on a Refuge-wide basis.
The WMCC and ABC understand the reasoning behind this decision, and offer our continued support to Refuge Management and personnel. We ask the climbing community for your support and patience as we await the outcome of these critically important national reviews. We will continue to keep you informed as new information becomes available.
For more perspective on this issue, see INSIGHTS "Defining Wilderness" in the WMCC's newsletter EXPOSURE, Issue Number 4.
ACCESS FUND TO ACQUIRE QUARTZ - SUPPORT NEEDED
In late November, the Access Fund began a serious effort to acquire what is certainly one of Oklahoma's finest climbing areas. Rising more than 300 feet over the surrounding prairie, Baldy Point(also referred to as Quartz Mountain) is the Fort Knox of granite domes in the Wichita Mountain range. In fact, Baldy's prolific south face offers what is arguably the most extensive collection of high-quality, granite routes between the Mississippi and the Rockies. Abundant classics, like S-Wall (5.9) and Last of the Good Guys (5.10a), provide some of the best face climbing in the region. Well-known climber and Outside Magazine contributor Doug Robinson has referred to Baldy Point as the "Tuolumne of the Midwest", a flattering compliment to Baldy's outstanding friction climbing and high quality stone.
Baldy Point had been privately owned by Ted and Margaret Johnson since long before the first climbing routes were established in the early 1970's. Their willingness to allow access to Baldy provided the public with outstanding climbing experiences for more than 30 years. But, in 1993, Mr. Johnson passed away, and the property became individually owned by his wife, who was in her early 80's at the time. Then recently, Mrs. Johnson's health began to fail and she was moved to a nursing home. Baldy Point and the rest of the Johnson property was then placed in a trust.
In early November, it was discovered that all of the Johnson property, including Baldy Point, was to be liquidated from the trust in order to provide funding for Mrs. Johnson's living and health care needs. A large part of the property lying to the east of Baldy Point has already been sold to a local developer who intends to subdivide the land into 1-acre lake cabin sites. However, thanks to the immediate efforts of the Access Fund, it now appears that the Johnson Trust is willing to sell all of the Baldy Point property to the Access Fund in order to preserve the property as a primitive recreation area for hiking, climbing, and nature viewing. The Baldy Point acquisition covers 120 acres, and includes not only the climbing area, but the native mesquite forest and eastern woodland valley as well.
In order to provide for the best long-term management of the area, the Access Fund has reached agreement with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to accept the Baldy Point property from the Access Fund as an addition to Quartz Mountain State Park. Under this arrangement, climbing would remain an allowed use and free of charge to the public, and the area would be maintained in its natural condition. In addition, the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition would provide ongoing assistance to Quartz Mountain State Park in managing the climbing area.
The WMCC Board of Directors has set a goal of raising $15,000 to assist the Access Fund and the State of Oklahoma with the acquisition and development costs for Baldy Point. Board members have each pledged $100 toward our goal, and they challenge all members of the local climbing community to match their pledges. In addition, they challenge local climbing and outdoor clubs, area climbing gyms and retailers, and other organizations to make a pledge of $500 or more. In the event you are unable to meet these specific pledge amounts, please show your support by pledging as much as you can. Individuals or organizations pledging $2000 or more become Jet Stream Partners. Those pledging $500-$2000 become Headwall Partners. Anyone pledging $100-$500 becomes a Scream Wall Partner. And, anyone pledging up to $100 becomes a S-Wall Partners.
A special fund-raising and information website has been setup for the Baldy Point acquisition. To make your pledge and to keep up with the latest news on the project, please go to:
If you do not have access to the Internet and you would like to contribute, please send your name, address, and phone number, along with your pledge amount to:
Baldy Point Acquisition
P. O. Box 721567
Norman, OK 73070-8207
Note: Do not include your payment at this time. Once the Baldy Point Acquisition is complete, you will be notified to send in your contribution.
The Baldy Point acquisition is a rare opportunity to save one of the region's finest climbing and natural areas. For local climbers, hikers and nature enthusiasts, there is no better way to make a difference than by financially supporting this preservation effort. Your contribution insures that this remarkable land is permanently protected for your enjoyment and that of future generations.
WMCC CHARTER/BYLAWS AMENDMENTS SUBMITTED FOR PURPOSE, OFFICERS
The WMCC Board of Directors is submitting to its members a proposal to amend the organizations charter to expand the purpose of the WMCC to also provide assistance to Quartz Mountain State Park in managing climbing activity at Baldy Point in the event the current acquisition effort by the Access Fund is successful. One of the requirements of both the Access Fund and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department in making the Baldy Point acquisition is a commitment from the local climbing community to assist with climbing management. There is no better way to accomplish that than by including climbing management at Quartz Mountain State Park under the purposes of the WMCC.
A second amendment proposal would expand the Board of Directors to five members from the current three members. This proposal would provide a broader representation for the climbing community in overseeing the policies and activities of the organization.
Under a third amendment proposal, the office of President would be filled by one Board member and would rotate among Board members on an as-needed basis; and, the offices of Secretary and Treasurer would be eliminated; and, all powers and duties previously belonging to or required of the Secretary and Treasurer would become the duties of the Board of Directors or Board- appointed assistants. This amendment would streamline the organization and increase its effectiveness.
The Board encourages all members to support these amendments by voting yes on the enclosed Ballot and returning it to the WMCC.
VOLUNTEERS COMPLETE TRAIL IMPROVEMENTS
More than a dozen WMCC members braved the heat last June to help with additional improvements to the Narrows Trail. The work focused on the initial part of the trail from Boulder Cabin to the first granite rise to the east. Along this section, a number of deep erosional scars had formed as a result of years of heavy foot traffic and were in need of repair.
Volunteers spent hours hauling rock, spreading fill material, and building check dams in a successful half-day reclamation effort. Many thanks to all of those who participated.
More trail work is planned for the Narrows this Spring. PLEASE SEE "ANNOUNCEMENTS" FOR MORE INFORMATION.
ANNUAL DUES APPROVED
WMCC members approved an amendment to the organization's bylaws to require an annual membership fee of $5.00. Originally, membership required a one-time fee, with optional annual donations. However, response to requests for donations was too minimal to provide for annual budget requirements. The new fee went into effect January 1, 2000. A Membership Renewal Form is enclosed with this newsletter. Please return it, along with your annual dues, as soon as possible to the WMCC. In addition to this years dues, you may also pre-pay your dues through 2003. New members who joined the WMCC in 1999 are considered current through January 1, 2001.
WMCC ANNOUNCES NEW WEBSITE AND EMAIL ADDRESS
The WMCC's new website is up and running. The redesigned site is loaded with news and information, maps, photos, links and more. If you haven't already made a visit, please take a few minutes to explore the site next time you are on the Internet.
Please note the new address:
Also, the organization's official e-mail address is now:
WMCC ISSUES DECALS
Enclosed with this issue of EXPOSURE, the WMCC has mailed to each member a new WMCC decal. Please place the sticker on your vehicle as a showing of support for our organization. In addition to allowing members to identify each other on climbing road trips, the decal will help demonstrate our support for the USFWS when we visit the Refuge.
WMCC RECEIVES DONATIONS FROM ED VIESTURS SHOWS
Thanks to the efforts and generosity of veteran Himalayan climber Ed Viesturs, Backwoods, and the Texas Mountaineers, the WMCC received cash donations totaling $956.00 last year. The money was raised at slide presentations in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Dallas, where Mr. Viesturs thrilled local climbers with exciting accounts of his latest Himalayan adventures. The WMCC expresses its gratitude to all those involved in this significant contribution.
OKLAHOMA GUIDEBOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
Chuck Lohn's much-awaited guidebook to Oklahoma is finally a reality. No longer will visiting climbers spend days wandering the Wichitas on a fruitless search for those hidden walls.
"The Oklahoma Climber's Guide", which went on sale in November, is a well-researched, thorough publication covering Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Quartz Mountain, Robber's Cave, and Chandler Park. The books beautiful cover photograph of the "Narrows" is a testament to the quality of work that went into the guide.
The guidebook contains dozens of high-resolution black and white photo-topos and illustrations detailing the location of the many hundreds of routes it covers. In addition, many fine climbing action photographs are dispersed throughout it's pages.
Also included in the book are valuable tips on travel, camping, and dining, as well as important information on local history, ethics, wildlife, access, conservation, and regulations.
The guidebook is available at area outdoor shops for $26.95, or online at:
EXPOSURE invites news "Updates" related to climbing and the Refuge
TABLE OF CONTENTS
By Betsy Rosenbaum, WMWR
CLIMBER CRITICALLY INJURED BY ROCKFALL
On Sunday, January 23, 2000, a Texas man was critically injured when he was hit in the head by a falling rock. The accident happened at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the base of "Zoo Wall" in the area known as the "Narrows". The injured man is Stanley Shafer, age 45, a lieutenant and SWAT Team member of the police department in Deer Park, TX, a suburb of Houston. He was preparing to climb the "The Dihedral" when the rockfall occurred.
Mr. Shafer was standing near the base of the 60 to 80-foot wall with other climbers and onlookers. At the time, there were climbers on routes adjacent to and above him. It is not known whether the rock was dislodged by one of the climbers or if it fell on its own. Witnesses stated that they heard and saw the rock as it fell, at one point bouncing off the wall and breaking into two pieces. One piece, weighing approximately 15 pounds, struck Shafer in the head and right shoulder. He was not wearing a helmet at the time.
Mr. Shafer suffered an open head wound (with multiple scull fractures) on the right side above and behind the ear. He also suffered a broken nose when he fell to the ground.
Climbers at the scene immediately went to Shafer's aid, providing first aid with what was on hand(primarily pieces of clothing and space blankets), while a companion of Shafer's went on foot to seek help. Refuge law enforcement officers and search and rescue team members responded to the accident, providing oxygen, back board, rescue basket and first aid supplies. A U.S. Army M.A.S.T. Helicopter from Ft. Sill was called, and Shafer was airlifted to Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Lawton, OK where he underwent surgery that night. Following that operation, he was listed in critical condition, and was in a coma.
On January 28, Mr. Shafer underwent a second surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Afterward, he showed minor improvement, but was still in a coma and on life support.
On February 14, Mr. Shafer was transferred by air ambulance from Lawton, OK to Methodist Hospital in Houston. His condition has not changed. Mr. Shafer's wife, Sharon, and other family members remain hopeful. Sharon is very grateful to all who provided aid at the scene and requested that her appreciation be expressed to those who were involved. She also expressed her thanks for everything that was done for her after the accident, and hopes to keep in touch. If you would like to write Sharon a note or send a card to her and Stan, their address is:
Stan and Sharon Shafer
P.O. Box 282
Deer Park, TX 77536
Fund raising efforts have been initiated by family and friends to help with the medical expenses not covered by insurance, and for transportation costs for moving Mr. Shafer to Houston. Contributions may be sent by personal check, money order, wire or in person to the following:
Stanley Shafer Fund
Associated Credit Union, Deer Park
309 West X Street
Deer Park, TX 77536
M.A.S.T. HELICOPTER ASSISTANCE NOW AVAILABLE
The U.S. Army suspended M.A.S.T. (Mobile Air Safety Transport) helicopter assistance to civilians during the summer of 1998 due to a mechanical problem discovered in the 1960's vintage Hughes CH-1 "Huey" helicopters. At the same time, the U.S. Army announced their plans for converting their helicopter fleet from the Huey aircraft to the Blackhawk model aircraft. The Blackhawks are much larger, less maneuverable, and initially did not have the hoist capability for medical evacuation. During that transition period, many of the Blackhawks have now been modified to include the hoist mechanism.
The good news is that assistance from the U.S. Army with air medical evacuation has been reestablished. The bad news is that helicopter assistance is not always going to be available. The helicopter fleet is not based at Ft. Sill; they are based in Kansas and are on temporary duty assignments at Ft. Sill for seven days at a time. During that seven day period, two crews rotate work shifts of 24 hours on and 24 hours off. The important thing to remember is that not every helicopter will have a hoist and, chances are, the pilot on duty may not have flown a mission over refuge lands previously. Each rescue situation will be evaluated individually and helicopter assistance will be requested when needed. The Refuge staff is very grateful that the U.S. Army has made their services available for rescue operations. Climb Safe!
ROAD WORK CONTINUES
The road re-paving that started in November, 1999 is still in progress. The section of road from the Visitor Center intersection to Sunset Picnic Area is currently being re-paved; the road is unmarked and can be hazardous after dark. Camp Doris has been re-paved and it too is unmarked at this time. The work will continue during the next several weeks or months, depending on the weather, and will involve some weekend days. Please allow extra travel time and expect some delays. A new restroom and shower facility is also under construction at Camp Doris and should be complete by summer of 2000.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TEMPORARY FIXED ANCHOR MORATORIUM IN CHARONS GARDEN
As reported on the front page of this newsletter, a temporary moratorium is in place for new routes requiring fixed anchors in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. This action does not apply to the replacement of existing fixed anchors, thanks to Refuge Manager Sam Waldstein's continuing support for Refuge-wide replacement efforts. Climbers wishing to submit applications for new routes requiring fixed anchors in Charons Garden are asked to hold your applications until such time as the moratorium is lifted.
ELK SLAB, NARROWS FIXED ANCHORS UPGRADED
Thanks to the hard work of one dedicated climber, all previously existing hardware on Elk Slab has been upgraded. In all, 9 fixed anchors were replaced on the following routes:
Water Streak - (1 lead bolt)
Water Streak - (4 belay bolts)
The Dihedral - (2 belay bolts)
Nike Route - (2 belay bolts)
In the Narrows, 2 lead bolts on Dr. Coolhead and 1 lead bolt on Scrotum Roof were upgraded.
NET REDUCTION OF FIXED ANCHORS REPORTED
As a result of management efforts by the USFWS and ABC, there has been a small net reduction in the total number of fixed anchors on the Refuge since the new climbing management plan went into effect in 1996. This is due to the fact that the majority of all fixed anchor applications were for the replacement of existing anchors; and during those replacements, many belay stations were "cleaned up", and a few unnecessary or redundant fixed anchors were removed.
For a listing of all fixed anchors installed and upgraded since 1996, please visit the WMCC website at:
After almost four years without any known incident of illegal placement or removal of fixed anchors at the Refuge, 1999 has ended with the following unauthorized fixed anchor placements, replacements, and removals:
1) BOLTS AND HANGERS ILLEGALLY REMOVED FROM ECHO DOME
Sometime between October 24th and October 30th, more than 20 lead/belay bolts and hangers were illegally removed from routes on Echo Dome in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. Echo Dome is located just to the northwest of Tiny Bubbles. While the bolted climbs at Echo Dome were not listed in the new "The Oklahoma Climbers Guide", the ABC has verified that all of the missing fixed anchors were legal placements made prior to the implementation of the 1996 Rock Climbing Regulations.
A recent notice provided to the ABC from a WMCC member emphasizes the seriousness of this incident:
ATTENTION ALL WICHITA MOUNTAINS CLIMBERS...
ALL BOLTS & HANGERS AT ECHO DOME HAVE BEEN REMOVED!!
In early 1996, regulations were implemented that made it essential for anyone wanting to remove, replace, or establish new fixed anchors in the Wichitas to fill out an application and seek approval through a designated "Advisory Bolting Committee". These regulations were part of an agreement between US Fish and Wildlife officials and climbers to monitor climbing activity and minimize the impact of fixed anchors on the Refuge. Since the implementation of the regulations, all has gone well. Until recently, when four routes on Echo Dome were suddenly missing bolts and hangers.
While this may be just a freak occurrence of someone stealing bolt hangers, removal of these fixed anchors has ruined the routes and risked our climbing. Furthermore, this incident is over-shadowed by a national fixed-anchor debate occurring between climbers and the US Forest Service which could change fixed anchor policy altogether.
For these reasons, it is important that we determine who was responsible for the destruction of these climbs so that it does not happen again. This is more than a simple issue of "who-done-it"; this incident could seriously jeopardize our right to climb in the Refuge. If the US Fish and Wildlife Service is not convinced that climbers are self-governing and can follow the rules, in the future more strict regulations may follow, and perhaps, even closure of certain climbing areas.
Following a review of this incident by the ABC, the Refuge Manager has granted approval to re- equip these routes.
2) ZOO WALL BELAY STATIONS REPLACED WITHOUT PERMIT
Sometime between June and August, 1999, two belay stations at the top of Zoo Wall were replaced without authorization. To make matters worse, the illicit hardware was inconsistent with natural resource criteria. For example, the rappel chains did not blend in with the natural color of the rock. This type of incident is particularly annoying because applications for bolt upgrades are typically expedited and approved, as the Refuge supports bolt replacement efforts.
A recent letter to the ABC from legendary California climber Doug Robinson underscores this problem:
It's the dawn of a new Millennium, and I, for one, am grateful that it includes free access to the excellent climbing in the Wichita Mountains. Let's not forget the good work we all did a few years ago to keep the place open.
Last October I had the privilege of climbing once againthe first time in a decadeon that fine, fine granite at the top of Mt. Scott and on Zoo Wall in the Narrows. It was great to find Mt. Scott so unchanged in spite of a lot of increased traffic. And, I was glad to see that the anchors there are still the natural ones, and no one has caved in to laziness and bolted the top of the cliff. That place still provides an excellent opportunity to practice natural anchoring for topropes.
At Zoo Wall , I did find two new sets of bolted belay anchors. I was glad to see them at first, since the anchoring positions there are exposed and there is a lot of loose rock to kick off onto climbers waiting below. But, then I noticed what a visual nuisance the large yellow chains were. It seemed that with just a little more thought, those anchors could have been installed so that they served their purpose without detracting from the natural beauty of the Narrows. I ended up feeling that the new anchors weren't as good an example to the many climbers who flock there as they could have been.
I look forward to coming back to climb in the Wichitas again this year.
Moving Over Stone
Failure to follow proper permitting procedures has resulted in the removal of this unauthorized hardware. The Refuge has since granted approval to install upgraded and properly camouflaged equipment in its place.
3) LICHEN WALL BELAY STATION INSTALLED WITHOUT PERMIT
Sometime before August, 1999, a belay station was added to Lichen Wall on the ledge above Fool's Aid without authorization. Failure to follow proper permitting procedures has resulted in the removal of this belay. Less time spent circumventing the law and more time spent following regulations would have been more productive. Especially since installing new fixed belay stations to existing routes may be appropriate in cases where rappelling the route results in less trail erosion or impact than hiking off the "back side".
The ABC is concerned about these incidents, as it is clear that one or more individuals have purposefully violated Refuge regulations by bypassing the fixed anchor application process. These actions are not only illegal, they are a disservice to the climbing community, which has worked so diligently over the last few years to build a successful partnership with the Refuge.
While these violations are deserving of serious attention, they represent but a tiny fraction of the total climbing activity that has taken place on the Refuge since the new regulations went into effect four years ago. These few unauthorized actions do not overshadow the climbing community's tremendous support for the new fixed anchor regulations.
For all of you whose dedicated efforts have made the mission of the ABC a success, we express our sincere thanks. And, we ask for a renewed commitment from each and every member of the climbing community to abide by the climbing regulations that we all agreed to support.
If you or someone you know has any information concerning the listed violations, please contact the ABC at:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FROM THE BOARD
The Holiday Season is just behind us, and everyone has probably given thanks for the many blessings in their lives. But, how many have stopped to remember that seemingly distant threat of losing access to the Wichitas, and given thanks for still being allowed to experience it's granite treasures. Well, maybe it's time do so. For it seems as though a few have forgotten the hard work and years of effort that many contributed so that we could continue to enjoy our climbing freedom.
The Board would like to remind everyone that climbing at the Refuge is a privilege, not a right. There is no place for those who view themselves above the rest, or who seek adventure through violating the law. Like it or not, climbing today is a regulated public activity; not some Don Quixote-like experience in which you can adjust the rules to fit your own personal view of reality.
For all of you who have supported our efforts with your time and money, and more importantly, with your ongoing commitment to abiding by Refuge regulations, we sincerely thank you.
Refuges Are Wild Places
by Betsy Rosenbaum, WMWR
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge has a primary responsibility for the management of native and migratory wildlife, and for the protection of wildlife habitat. Public visitation and recreation is allowed when compatible with wildlife management objectives. The refuge receives approximately 1.5 million visitors each year and the very things that attract visitors to this area can also be things that are unfamiliar and perhaps even quite dangerous. Large animals, like bison, are unconfined and can be aggressive and dangerous. During warm weather, stinging insects and poisonous snakes can pose a threat. There are open streams and lakes that present a hazard for anyone who can not swim. Hiking trails take you far from the comfort and security of your car. There can be extreme temperatures, sudden storms, changing topography, boulder fields and vertical rock walls; and, it is easy to get lost in unfamiliar territory. People venture to the refuge to get away from the city, to leave the stresses of the working world behind, and to be challenged by a new trail or climbing area. As you do so, you must be willing assume the risks of a natural area and be ready to meet nature on its own terms.
The Refuge staff is available to assist visitors during their stay, and visitor facilities are open and staffed to the degree that budgets will allow. Staff work schedules are written so that there is someone on duty every day of the week including weekends and holidays. All refuge law enforcement officers have direct radio contact with the Comanche County Sheriff's Department. All 911 calls in the county are answered by the Dispatcher of the Comanche County Sheriff's Department; their office is located in Lawton, OK, 25 miles from the refuge and approximately 30 to 45 minutes in travel time. There are two ambulance services in Lawton and there are two hospitals:
Comanche County Memorial Hospital
3401 W. Gore Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505
Southwestern Medical Center
5602 W. Lee Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505
The refuge maintains a Search and Rescue team with basic emergency medical equipment and supplies as a service to the visiting public. Team members are those who have a strong interest in that type of work and have voluntarily become certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and American Red Cross Standard First Aid. Several Staff members have advanced training as First Responders and there are two certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's) on our staff. There is no agency mandate that requires the refuge to provide these emergency services. Current management supports these efforts and these services will continue to be provided. In addition to emergency medical training, Search and Rescue team members have been trained in high angle technical rescue, should that need arise.
It is important to keep in mind that each emergency situation will be different with regard to time of day, weather conditions, location and condition of the victim, and resources available. As a visitor, take time to plan for the unexpected. Never go out alone. Leave your itinerary with someone, so that if you are overdue at the end of the day or weekend, someone will know to look for you. Remember: Always be prepared and Climb Safe!
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Thou Shalt Not Wreck the Place
by Doug Robinson
Climbing in the wilderness has always been different. Fixed anchors are already so scarce, so remote and so spread out that no one but climbers can find them, or risk being "offended" by the sight. Most climbers strongly oppose sport-climbing-style bolting on wilderness crags. We prefer to travel light, using a few classic tools - rope, ice axe, a hand-full of Stoppers - to challenge remote peaks.
Wilderness climbers have already reduced our use of fixed anchors drastically since the Wilderness Act of 1964 became law. By replacing pitons with nuts and cams, we have stopped the erosion that we were causing to cracks in the rock. On climb after climb put up since clean climbing began three decades ago, there is little impact to the rock itself. The fixed gear climbers do place can actually preserve the environment. Take most of Yosemite's "clean aid" climbs; they'd still be nailed if not for the scattered fixed gear. On belay ledges on Long Peak's Diamond, a couple of fixed pins nestled among the alpine plants eliminate the need to scrape the cracks clean in search of nut placements.
Bolts continue to be used sparsely to fill in a few blank spots in routes. Most blend with the rock - I have missed finding them from just a few feet away. Even on the blank walls of Southern California's Suicide Rock, where 300 feet of climbing is protected entirely by some dozen bolts, you can see (and hear) the parking lot half a mile away, but the bolts above are hard to find.
As climbers, we clean up our own act because we love the steep places of the planet, and support the wilderness system that protects them. We will voluntarily and with pride follow Sheridan Anderson's dictum that "Thou Shalt Not Wreck the Place." Treading lightly is a good game, difficult enough to be fun in itself, and it keeps up the adventure.
But we can still do better. The rock itself is pretty well saved, so let's reduce our impact on the rest of the wilderness, especially approaches and descents. I was up in a crowded California wilderness today, bouldering and scrambling up a peak. I slipped into the old game of following islands of bedrock and hopping rocks in between, covering long stretches without leaving even the proverbial footprint. On descents we can replace brightly colored rappel slings with rock-colored ones, or perhaps replace a long lanyard of sling with a couple of pitons. Another possible tactic is an old trick of Don Jensen's. In the Palisades you can still find blocks and spikes of granite, their upper sides discreetly rounded off so a rope can pull down directly, leaving nothing. Grab a Leave No Trace pamphlet at your nearest mountain shop or ranger station for more good ideas.
Remember, the first business of the Forest Service is trees, then grazing. Recreation is an afterthought in the "Land of many uses," and wilderness an afterthought to recreation. The USFS is in the tree business, but since it isn't really a company, it has for decades been giving away our forests for less than the cost of building the roads to haul the trees away. Which is how entire hectares of Alaskan forest ended up at the bottom of Tokyo Harbor. The logs are pickled there in a strange kind of deep blue cold deck. Japan doesn't need the wood right now, but the price was too ridiculously cheap to pass up. Maybe the fight over fixed anchors is just a smokescreen for the real problems on Forest Service Lands.
Doug Robinson has been climbing and guiding around the world for more than 40 years. His name is especially familiar to those of us in the local climbing community who were fortunate enough to have been climbing at the Wichitas during the late 70's and early 80's. A native Californian and veteran Yosemite climber, Doug first ventured to Oklahoma in 1979 to teach a growing number of young, inspired climbers the skills and techniques they would need for a lifetime of adventure. The friendship's that grew out of that first visit brought Doug back to the prairie year after year to share in the "Golden Age" of Oklahoma climbing.
Doug's life-long passion for climbing is matched only by his love for the place he calls home: the Sierra Nevada. His purist approach to climbing has often set the standard for others to follow. In 1972, his article "The Whole Natural Art of Protection" appeared in the first Chouinard Equipment Catalogue. This now classic piece was the inspirational gospel that helped convince an entire generation of climbers to put away their hammers and pitons. One year later, Doug pushed the limits of the new "clean climbing" revolution when he, Galen Rowell, and Dennis Henneck made the first clean ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley. Today, in both words and deeds, Doug continues to serve as the conscience of the climbing community.
To read more of Doug's poetic writings and his adventures in the Range of Light, purchase a copy of his book "A Night on the Ground, A Day in the Open" at your nearest outdoor shop.
EXPOSURE invites responsible "Insights" concerning climbing resource protection and conservation issues
by Tony Mayse
Of all the places where I've climbed, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge hosts some of the most committing routes. It's exposed granite faces give an airy feeling that parallels Yosemite Valley.
The Refuge's Crab Eyes area fits the description of committing. On the east face of Crab Eyes lies a superb finger crack named "RA"(pronounced "raw"). First top-roped in 1980 by (our youthful-looking) Terry Andrews, the route was later led by Duane Raleigh. With a stiff rating of 5.11d, this climb has several demanding moves which lead up a finger-sized crack, then through the crux lieback, before finally tapering off to a fist-sized crack below the belay.
Most climbers will find the top-rope version of "RA" quite challenging, but the real prize is stepping out on the sharp end and bagging a red-point. Requiring a rack of many small TCU's and a variety of stoppers(mainly smaller sizes), this route works both the mind and the forearms. The gear is bomber, but placing it with just a few finger tips in a shallow crack will test all of your skills.
To red-point this jewel, you must Zen with the rock. And, in order to achieve Zen, one must be totally relaxed. If you cannot relax, you will not trust your gear. So, when was the last time you took a whipper on a .5 TCU?
Not one to spread any bad "JU JU"; just giving you the down and dirty on one of Oklahoma's classic lines.
By the way, Peter Croft climbed "RA" a few years ago, placing only four pieces of gear on his onsight lead. Enjoy!
EXPOSURE invites narratives about classic Refuge climbs
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Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
by Betsy Rosenbaum, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
The Red-tailed Hawk is described by most bird field guides and scientific literature as the most common and widespread buteo. Buteo is the genus name from Latin, meaning a hawk; any of a genus of hawks with broad rounded wings, relatively short tails, and soaring flight.
Behavior: Red-tailed Hawks are birds of both open and wooded areas, particularly wood edges, and are often seen perched conspicuously on a treetop, a telephone pole, or other lookout while hunting. Red-tails are extremely beneficial, preying primarily on rodents but, at certain times of the year will also feed on insects, fish, and larger mammals, such as rabbits and squirrels. They often pursue prey into dense brush, will steal prey from other raptors, and are also known to eat carrion.
In general, the daily range of a Red-tailed Hawk is about two miles in extent and is divided into two major hunting areas; they are alternately hunted morning and afternoon, though not always in the same order. The range can best be described as a series of perches, some representing hunting perches, others just temporary stops between hunting grounds. Early morning "warm-up flights" of an hour or less are usually made where they visit peripheries of the range and make no concerted effort to hunt. The rest of the day is spent hunting either from a perch or soaring and they make far more unsuccessful strikes at prey than successful ones.
Courtship displays are a series of steep dives and climbs and include glides by both adults together with their feet held hanging down. Talon-grappling has occasionally been observed and could be either courtship activity or aggressive display. Mated pairs will often hunt together and frequently fly and perch together, but are not known to share a kill.
Their most frequently heard vocal sound is a long, wheezy, descending "kkeeeeer" somewhat like the sound of escaping steam.
Status and distribution: Red-tailed Hawks are widespread and common, occasionally abundant, and occur in every North American habitat except high Arctic and extensive tracts of dense forest. Northern birds are migratory.
In Oklahoma the Red-tail is both a resident and a migrant, but probably not sedentary. Oklahoma Ornithological Society records show a bird banded as nestling on May 11, 1964, near Alva, in Woods County, was killed by a car along a highway 40 miles east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 12, 1964. It inhabits wooded parts of the state all year, is uncommon in treeless areas, and is most conspicuous from late September through March or early April.
Red-tailed Hawks have been reported in all counties of north central Texas and, in many counties, the year round. It is much more abundant during the winter period from early October until early April than at other times of the year.
What to look for: On average Red-tails are approximately 22" in length with a wingspan of approximately 50". Sexes are alike in plumage and overlap considerably in size making it impossible to distinguish males from females except during courtship or nesting activity. First year birds and adults are very similar in coloration: brown to gray-brown on the head and back and light colored on the throat, chest and belly. The underparts are more mottled or speckled on the immatures and adults sometimes have a band of dark feathers across the belly. Only adults have a red tail and it develops during the second year. Immature birds have a finely barred or striped tail that shows white at the base.
The underwings of a Red-tailed hawk are usually blotched or patterned compared to other buteos. Two distinctive marks are helpful when a bird is in close range: dark colored feathers that look like "commas" located at the wrist (carpal area) of the underwing and the bold dark line running along the leading edge of the wing.
Dark-phase birds are common in western states and rare in the east. Dark-phase birds are usually reddish brown (not black) on the body and underwing linings. A belly band, darker than the rest of the underparts, is usually present, and adults still have a red tail.
The Red-tailed Hawk is a master soarer and, on days when there is good lift, may not flap at all. Red-tails flap a good deal less than all hawks except the Ferruginous Hawk. When soaring, the Red-tail usually carries its wings slightly lifted in a dihedral, but less pronounced than that of a Turkey Vulture. In contrast, the dihedral of a Red-tailed Hawk is flat along the shoulders and uplifted along the hands, like that of a Ferruginous hawk. In point - to - point flight, the wing beat of a Red-tailed hawk is slow, heavy and powerful.
Nesting: Red-tailed Hawks are adaptable to region and habitat. Their nests can be found in trees (cottonwood, sycamore, conifers) to height of 120 ft. or more above the ground; in desert areas they will use Saguaro cactus (Arizona); in mountainous areas nests will be built on open on rocky cliffs, sometimes in abandoned nests of Golden eagles or Common ravens. Nesting occurs only rarely in shrubs or small trees (paloverde, ocotillo, fresh mesquite). Nests are well made of sticks and twigs, lined with inner bark, evergreen sprigs, or fresh green foliage. Green sprigs are replaced during incubation. Both sexes are involved in nest building. Outside diameter is usually 28 - 30 inches, inside diameter 14 - 15 inches, and a depth of 4 - 6 inches.
Eggs are laid at an interval of 1 to 2 days with the average nest having 2 or 3 eggs and occasionally 4. The eggs are oval or long-oval and dirty white or bluish white in color, with varying arrangements of spots or blotches in shades of brown. Incubation is done by the female for 28 - 35 days. It takes another 42 - 44 days for chicks to mature and fledge.
In Oklahoma and north central Texas, nesting typically occurs in April and May with records as early as March and as late as June. Occasionally a pair of Red-tails can be seen establishing nesting territories or building and refurbishing nests in late January and early February. Nests may be used again year after year if undisturbed or not usurped by Great Horned Owls. Nests are not placed in deep wooded areas but are found near wooded edges or on rocky cliffs where there is a commanding view of the surrounding country side. Nesting birds and young disappear after the breeding season. Red-tailed Hawks can be found close to human dwellings and urban areas. They occasionally use steel power-line towers for nest sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Conservation: Red-tails can be found wintering as far south as Panama. Historically their numbers were greatly reduced in the eastern U.S. by bounty hunting early in this century. Bounty hunting has been outlawed so that Red-tails and all hawks, as well as all migratory birds, are now protected by federal and state law. Their has also been a continued steady decline in Red-tail numbers from human population impacts and from habitat loss. Environmental contamination has also caused some egg shell thinning although not as notable as with other species.
EXPOSURE invites informative articles about the plants, animals, and rocks of the Refuge
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On Sunday, March 19th, local climbers Aaron Gibson, Adam Gibson, and Mike Kimberling will host the 3rd annual Norman Bouldering Competition. As usual, the event takes place in two or more home climbing gyms and lasts all day. Climbers compete for prizes donated by various sponsors and eat lunch(provided by Subway) between gyms. So far, this year's sponsors include Metolius, Climbing Magazine, Pusher, Subway and OKC Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym; more are expected.
The NBC3 is an event of comradery more than competitiveness. Climbers keep their own score sheet and are free to attempt any boulder problems they wish. Encouragement and beta-yelling are both legal in this competition.
Climbers from outside the Norman and OKC area are encouraged to join the competition. For more information and an entry form for NBC3, call Aaron Gibson at (405) 525-5407.
WMCC PROPOSES NARROWS TRAIL WORK - ACCESS FUND PROVIDES GRANT
The Access Fund has approved a $3000 Climbing Preservation Grant for the WMCC's Spring 2000 Narrows Trail Project, which is planned for May. The grant will provide the necessary funding to bring trailbuilding expert Jim Angell back to the Refuge for several days of design work and construction supervision. Most of you will remember Mr. Angell from our previous projects. This year's effort will focus on extending the climbers trail from Leaning Tower to Lichen Wall, and making needed repairs to other sections of the existing trail. Two days of work will be scheduled for a weekend in early May. Please watch for notices of the specific dates, and be ready to volunteer you time.
BALDY POINT FUND-RAISING OFF THE CHARTS
At the time we went to press, financial pledges for the Baldy Point Acquisition had already surpassed the $12,000 mark! Many thanks to all who have contributed to this effort!
ACCESS FUND APPROVES BALDY POINT ACQUISITION
On February 19th, Access Fund Board Members voted to approve the Baldy Point Acquisition Proposal, as well as the necessary funds for purchasing and developing the property. In addition, Board members approved an agreement between the Access Fund and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department concerning the transfer of the Baldy Point property to the State of Oklahoma as an addition to Quartz Mountain State Park. Board members praised the local climbing community for their incredible fund-raising effort, and expressed their sincere appreciation for the tremendous enthusiasm and support.
The next step in the acquisition process involves finalizing a formal agreement with the Johnson Trust on the purchase of the Baldy Point property. That should be completed within the next 30 days.
For the latest news and information on the acquisition, please visit the Baldy Point website at:
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