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Exposure Volume 8, March 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Quartz Update
Refuge Update
WMCC News
ABC News
Volunteer Projects
Special Events
Insights
Tales From the Gripped
From the Board
WMCC Calender
Announcements

 

QUARTZ UPDATE

QUARTZ MOUNTAIN STATE PARK TRANSFERRED TO STATE BOARD OF REGENTS

On January 1, 2002, the State of Oklahoma officially transferred control of Quartz Mountain State Park, including Baldy Point, from the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to the Oklahoma State Board of Regents for Higher Education. The facility has been renamed "Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center and Nature Park", and is overseen by a nine member Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor. The Board includes Dr. Lowell Canaday, Director of the Department of Leisure Studies at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Canaday was chosen for his extensive background in outdoor recreation, which includes familiarity with technical rock climbing.

The transfer of the Park was a direct result of the efforts of State Legislators to insure that the new multi-million dollar lodge, educational arts program, golf course and other park facilities receive an appropriate level of funding for the continued operation and growth of this premier state property.

Dr. Terry L. Mosley has been selected as the new executive director of the facility, and Steve Kemp has been chosen as the new park manager. Mr. Kemp replaces Bruce Divis, who previously held that position. Dr. Mosley and Mr. Kemp have expressed their appreciation for the Baldy Point property and their support for climbing.

Rock climbing and other recreational activities at Baldy Point will continue as previously allowed under regulations that were put in place when the property was originally transferred to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The WMCC looks forward to assisting Dr. Mosley, Mr. Kemp and their staff in managing climbing activity at Baldy Point and in protecting the areas unique natural environment.

ACCESS FUND TRANSFERS REMAINING JOHNSON PROPERTY TO QUARTZ MOUNTAIN NATURE PARK

On March 3, 2003, the Access Fund purchased the remaining 60 acres of the Baldy Point property from the Suzy J. Spradlin 2001 Revocable Trust. The land was directly transferred at closing to the State of Oklahoma as a donation to Quartz Mountain Nature Park.

Dr. Spradlin of Oakland, California is the daughter of Ted and Margaret Johnson, the longtime owners of the property. She inherited the land after her mother passed away in November 2001. Dr. Spradlin has worked with the Access Fund since 1999 in order to protect all of the Baldy Point land as part of the state park.

The Access Fund transferred the first 60-acres covering most of Baldy Point in April 2001. The remaining property, which had been under an option agreement since 1999, covers Baldy's eastern slopes and the native woodland valley adjoining it. The land contains popular climbing and bouldering areas, as well as abundant wildlife, extensive woodlands, and other valuable natural resources.

PRIVATE DONATION ADDS 160 ACRES TO PARK

On July 1, 2002, James A. Dunnam of Seattle, Washington donated 160 acres of pristine mountain lands to the State of Oklahoma as an addition to Quartz Mountain Nature Park. The Dunnam property covers a significant portion of Quartz Mountain and directly adjoins the east side of the Baldy Point property. The remote and rugged land offers new climbing possibilities, expanded hiking potential, and outstanding scenic vistas.

QUARTZ MOUNTAIN NATURE PARK CREATES BALDY POINT NATURAL AREA

Quartz Mountain Nature Park has designated the 280-acre area covered by the Johnson and Dunnam properties as the Baldy Point Natural Area. The wilderness-like lands will be managed for the purposes of hiking, climbing, nature observation, art and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.

Identical covenants and restrictions contained in the deeds to all of the properties provide that the lands are to managed as a "natural area", with minimal improvements allowed for trails and educational signage. Climbing is provided for in perpetuity, and the use of fixed anchors is specifically allowed on the properties.

The Baldy Point Natural Area contains valuable climbing and natural resources that are unique to this region of the country. The new designation will insure that this one-of-a-kind area is protected for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

PRIMITIVE TRAILS PLAN PROPOSED FOR BALDY POINT NATURAL AREA

Quartz Mountain Nature Park has submitted a proposal to the Oklahoma Recreational Trails Program seeking grant funding for the development of a primitive trail system at the Baldy Point Natural Area. The comprehensive plan includes the following:

1) Establishment of the Baldy Point Trailhead on the peaks west side.

2) Improvements to the Baldy Point Trailhead, including parking lot upgrades and the installation of an informational kiosk, a permanent single-vault toilet, and a water supply faucet.

3) Establishment of the Cedar Valley Trailhead on the east side of Baldy Point.

4) Development of the Cedar Valley Trailhead, including a new parking lot, informational kiosk, permanent single-vault toilet, and water supply faucet.

5) A 3-mile primitive trail system around Baldy Point and Cedar Valley that joins the two trailheads and connects with a trail proposed to be built over Quartz Mountain from the Lodge.

Grant awards will be announced in May. If approved, work on the project will begin late this summer and be completed in the fall. Quartz Mountain Nature Park has made arrangements for trail design expert Jim Angell of Bend, Oregon to supervise the construction using prison crews from Granite State Reformatory.

Volunteer assistance will also be provided by the WMCC throughout the project on an "as needed" basis. Members will be notified of opportunities to assist with the trailwork through mailings and email. Please watch the WMCC website for more information, and whenever possible, volunteer your time to this important project.

The WMCC whole-heartedly supports the efforts of Quartz Mountain Nature Park to develop Baldy Point into one of the finest recreational and educational natural areas in Oklahoma.

EXPOSURE invites news items related to climbing at Quartz Mountain Nature Park.

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REFUGE UPDATE

VOLUNTEERS UPGRADE NARROWS TRAIL

An enthusiastic group of volunteers showed up at the Refuge on October 12th and 13th, 2002 for the WMCC's latest Narrows Trail Project. The effort was organized in conjunction with the Access Fund as part of their national Adopt-a-Crag event.

Volunteers spent Saturday making much needed improvements to the first section of the Narrows Trail from Boulder Cabin to the first crossing of West Cache Creek. Tons of gravel and fill material were hauled in by hand to repair numerous erosional problems, including the beginning one hundred feet of the trail. That section had somehow been last on the priority list during all
previous trail projects and had never been upgraded. Now, thanks to the groups efforts, hikers and climbers visiting the Narrows will find a more aesthetically-pleasing and user-friendly path as they begin their hike.

On Sunday, volunteers performed general maintenance along much of the remainder of the trail, and also engineered the repair of what could only be called a "crater" in the trail below Leaning Tower where an ancient oak tree had recently uprooted and fallen. That work involved partially filling the pit with small rocks, and then using prybars to slide an enormous boulder precisely into place to level the ground. With just a few more buckets of fill and some additional grading, all evidence of the crater was erased. That is, except for the six-foot diameter rootball of the tree lying next to the trail as a reminder.

Many thanks to all of those who volunteered their time to this important conservation effort.

EXPOSURE invites news items related to climbing at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

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WMCC NEWS

BOARD MEMBERS, ASSISTANTS, AND ADVISORY BOLTING COMMITTEE
MEMBERS SELECTED

For the year 2003, the following persons have been selected to represent the interests of the climbing community and to further the goals of the WMCC:

Board of Directors:

Terry Andrews (Norman, OK)
Aaron Gibson (Tulsa, OK)
Marion Hutchison (Norman, OK)
Jimmy Forester (Dallas, TX)
John Ferguson (Dallas, TX)

Treasury Assistant:

Russell Hooper (Oklahoma City, OK)

Advisory Bolting Committee:

Jimmy Forester (Dallas, TX)
Tony Wilson (Lindsay, OK)
Eric Forney (Stillwater, OK)

Thanks to everyone for volunteering your time.

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ABC NEWS

ABC TO MEET WITH REFUGE MANAGER TO REVIEW CHARONS GARDEN FIXED
ANCHOR POLICIES

The WMCC's Advisory Bolting Committee is scheduled to meet with Refuge Manager Sam Waldstein this Spring to discuss current and future fixed anchor policies for the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. The meeting will focus on the possibility of lifting the moratorium on placing new fixed anchors in the wilderness area, and on regulation alternatives for protecting wilderness resources and values should the moratorium be lifted.

Mr. Waldstein implemented the moratorium in early 2000 as a result of policy reviews at the national level to determine if fixed anchors were allowable under the Wilderness Act. The moratorium was meant as a temporary action, pending final decisions by the U. S. Forest Service and Department of Interior. (For more on the issue, see Exposure No. 5)

Since then, the Forest Service has been through a Negotiated Rulemaking process, and the Department of Interior has held numerous meetings on the subject. As a result, it now appears that fixed anchors will continue to be allowed under the Wilderness Act. However, their use on many federal lands may be subject to a permitting process at the local level, much like what is already in place at the Refuge.

The WMCC and ABC continue to support the occasional and managed use of fixed anchors in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area, as well as reasonable and effective regulations to protect wilderness resources and values.

For more information on fixed anchor regulations and activity at the Refuge, please visit the "ABC" section of the WMCC website.

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VOLUNTEER PROJECTS

REFUGE TRAIL WORK SCHEDULED FOR 2003

The WMCC has scheduled a weekend of trail work in the Narrows at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for Saturday and Sunday, September 13th and 14th, 2003. The work is being coordinated with the Access Fund as part of their annual Adopt-a-Crag event.

This years effort will focus on making much needed repairs to the Narrows trail below Zoo Wall. This section of the trail sees heavy usage and is particularly prone to erosional degradation due to the steep slopes and unconsolidated base material.

Volunteers will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Narrows trailhead at Boulder Cabin. Work will last until 2 p.m. All necessary tools will be provided. Volunteers need to bring work gloves, a water bottle, and a sack lunch. Camping will be provided free for all volunteers.

Since 1997, the WMCC has organized numerous trail projects and provided thousands of hours of volunteer work to rebuild the Narrows Trail. Those efforts have resulted in scenic, user-friendly trail that minimizes impacts to Refuge resources and provides convenient access to the most popular climbing destinations in the canyon. This years trail work schedule is part of an ongoing effort by the WMCC to maintain the improved condition of the Narrows Trail.

QUARTZ MOUNTAIN PRIMITIVE TRAILS PROJECT

As mentioned above in the "Quartz Update" column, the WMCC will be providing volunteer assistance on an "as needed" basis to Quartz Mountain Nature Park for its Quartz Mountain Primitive Trails Project at Baldy Point from September to November, assuming the project is approved by the Oklahoma Recreational Trails Program.

Once a detailed work schedule is in place, WMCC members will be notified by mailings and email of specific dates for participating in the project. Those dates will most likely be on weekends scattered throughout the project, and will involve between a few and more than a dozen volunteers at a given time.

All necessary tools will be provided. Volunteers will need to bring work gloves, a water bottle, and a sack lunch. Camping will be provided free for all volunteers at the main park campground.

PLEASE VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME!

The key to the success of these projects will be plenty of dedicated volunteers. The WMCC encourages its members, or anyone else who would like to contribute, to volunteer your time to these important conservation efforts.

Please mark your calendars now and watch the WMCC website for additional information.

If you are interested in participating in the Narrows Trail Project or Quartz Mountain Primitive Trails Project, please send an email with your name, address, and phone number to:

volunteer@wichitamountains.org

We'll place your name on the participant list and contact you with more information about the projects this summer.

Thanks in advance for volunteering. Your support is appreciated!

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SPECIAL EVENTS

2002 FALL GATHERING WAS ONE OF THE BEST

With two days of great weather and more than 60 climbers in attendance, the 2002 Quartz Fall Gathering certainly ranked as one of the best. For those of you who didn't make it out last October, here's some of the things you missed:

1) Late-night tales around Frank's and Susan's giant chiminea.
2) The six-grill tailgate barbecue featuring burgers, t-bones, chicken, salmon, and shrimp.
3) True Stories by Bill Thomas of he and Duane's early adventures
4) Bill and Vicki's antique road show
5) The Goat
6) Dray and Kevin's not-so-slackline contest
7) The Agave Brothers tequila trailer
8) The new bolts on El Tesoro, Romper Room, and The Gauntlet
9) Perfect camping weather
10) Great bouldering
11) Fabulous climbing
12) A great group of people

2003 QUARTZ SPRING FLING JUST AROUND THE CORNER

If you missed the Fall Gathering, here's your chance to enjoy the semi-annual festivities at Quartz. The 2003 Quartz Spring Fling takes place April 5th and 6th at Baldy Point at Quartz Mountain Nature Park. Join the WMCC for a weekend of climbing and comradery on some of the finest granite in the southwest.

A special use permit granted to the WMCC allows camping on-site at Baldy Point on Friday and Saturday night. The fee is $3 per person per night for members and $4 per person per night for non-members, and includes free use of the showers at the main park campground.

For more information, contact the WMCC or visit our website.

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INSIGHTS

TEN YEARS AFTER

By Marion Hutchison

It was nearly ten years ago that hundreds of concerned climbers from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas crowded into the Worley Seminar Center at the Great Plains Vo-Tech School in Lawton to hear the shocking news: Climbing was to be banned at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Like many climbing areas across the country, the Refuge was about to be caught in a growing access storm.

For decades climbing had been an out-of-the-mainstream adventure practiced by a few thousand highly dedicated and independent spirits. But in the matter of a few short years in the late-1980's and early-1990's, climbing had exploded into popular culture as an extreme sport-of-sports sought out by hundreds of thousands of everyday faces. The peace that had existed for more than forty years between unassuming climbers and their mostly-accepting land manager counterparts soon evaporated as the storm arrived in all its fury.

Parking lots were suddenly overflowing, trails were eroding, and bolts were popping up like spring weeds. The passive years of little or no communication between climbers and land managers suddenly led to serious misunderstandings. And those misunderstandings soon led to confrontation and conflict at many climbing areas across the country during the 1990's. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was no exception.

Fortunately, a number of forward-looking climbers had anticipated the impending tidal wave and took it upon themselves to form the Access Fund in 1990. Operating on a shoestring budget and with minimal staff, they scrambled to educate land managers across the country, and to assist climbers at the local level in organizing themselves and becoming pro-active. These local climber organizations became the driving force behind educating climbers about resource protection and providing assistance to land managers in minimizing climbing impacts.

The Access Fund's assistance played a critical role at the Refuge. Initially, in helping local climbers to form the Wichita Mountains Access Association and challenge the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed ban. And later, in forming the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition to work in a cooperative partnership with the USFWS in managing climbing activity and protecting the natural resources at the Refuge.

It's now 2003, and for the most part, the great storm has passed. Land managers across the country are more informed about climbing and have better understanding of climbers and their values. At the same time, climbers have a real appreciation for the concerns and responsibilities of land managers, and understand that maintaining access to our climbing resources requires active participation in protecting the natural environment.

This new awareness is nowhere more apparent than at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where the USFWS has accepted climbing as a valuable and compatible secondary use, and where the WMCC has proven that the climbing community is a dedicated and trusted partner in caring for the Refuge.

Since the partnership began in 1996, thousands of hours of volunteer work on numerous trail projects in the Narrows has returned the canyon to a splendor not seen since the early 1980's; replacement of many of the bolts originally placed at the Refuge with new camouflaged fixed anchors has eliminated aesthetic concerns and made climbing much safer; and the dedicated work of the Advisory Bolting Committee has insured that the Refuge's wilderness and other natural resources are protected.

And through these efforts, local climbers have discovered a sense of community that was often missing in earlier days. Thanks to our common goals and shared values, we've stepped beyond our philosophical differences and found the importance of working together as a community of climbers to protect that which we all treasure: climbing in the Wichitas.

That community spirit has proved its worth over and over again. Most recently, when nearly one hundred local climbers collectively pledged more than $16,000 in a matter of weeks to fund the Access Fund's purchase of Baldy Point, thereby protecting one of our most cherished climbing areas.

Looking back on the difficult times, I realize now that it was all necessary. For the disagreements and confrontations eventually led to dialogue and communication. And that communication brought about real understanding. Which in turn led to true cooperation and a valuable partnership between climbers and with Refuge Management. And in the end, that is what saved climbing for all of us.

As tomorrow dawns, the sun will be shining brightly on the future of climbing in the Wichitas. Let's savor that fact, and the knowledge that we succeeded in our mission to save climbing at the Refuge and Quartz. At the same time, let's not forget the years of hard work and dedication that got us here. Because the word "complacency" is not found in the WMCC's dictionary. And that's important. For while the mission has been a success, our work goes on. And it remains the responsibility of each and every climber who frequents the Wichitas to be a part of that effort. By doing so, we insure our climbing freedom and that bright tomorrow.

A Personal Note

I remember well that Saturday evening in Lawton nearly ten years ago. Little did I know that night would mark the beginning of a decade of a challenging and exciting work with the WMAA, WMCC and Access Fund. And just as all climbing trips must eventually end, so too must my time leading our access expedition.

It's been a tremendously rewarding experience, the best part of which has been working with and getting to know all of you who have supported the efforts of these organizations through your volunteer work and financial contributions. It's your collective support and dedication that is responsible for saving climbing in the Wichitas.

And so, effective January 1, 2004, I'll be resigning my positions as Access Fund Regional Coordinator and WMCC Board member. It's time to pass the torch to one of the next generation of climbers who embraces the traditions and values of climbing in the Wichitas, and has the spirit and motivation to carry-on our efforts to protect them.

Over the next many months, the Access Fund and the Board of the WMCC will be looking for candidates to fill my positions. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact the WMCC.

As our work continues, you can count on my involvement and support for the efforts of the WMCC and Access Fund.

EXPOSURE invites responsible "Insights" concerning climbing resource protection and conservation issues.

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TALES FROM THE GRIPPED

A WINTER ADVENTURE

By Aaron Gibson

An Oklahoma winter brings little in the way of snow and ice, and more in the way of gale-force winds and driving rain. There are, however, a few optimal days when snow blankets the granite and the days are cold enough to freeze any water. This is the season for ice climbing in the Wichita Mountains. The few who attempt to ice climb in Oklahoma know of the short window of opportunity and make every effort to get to the ice before it melts the next day.

Post Oak Falls in Charons Garden offers the best ice climbing in the area. The waterfall is about 30 feet tall and runs into a small, but deep, pool at the base. During the best conditions, there will be three to five inches of ice covering the entire wall, and the pool at the bottom is frozen solid, however, this rarely occurs.

Upon a few occasions, I've made the chilly jaunt back to Post Oak Falls in hopes of rediscovering Oklahoma ice climbing. The winter of 2000 was one such occasion. My friends, and I ventured to the Falls. There was about a foot of snow on the ground from the storms that passed a day earlier but it was melting fast. So much for winter, we thought. We hoped to find a little ice, and a "little" ice is indeed, all we found. It was more of a frosted coating of slushy ice dripping like an ice cream cone on a summer afternoon.

We scoped out what remained of the frozen waterfall and decided to set up a top-rope, thinking, only a madman would lead such a thing. After setting the rope, I put on my warmest clothes: my new gloves, my gray with orange stripe Polypro socks, and my $2.99 Wal-Mart beanie. Before climbing, we needed to check the integrity of the thickness of the ice covering the frozen pool at the base of the falls. I crouched down and placed a single boot on the surface of the ice and pressed gently. The pool was hardly frozen. A crack erupted, as the ice broke into chunks. I lost my balance and slid into the freezing waters. I pawed desperately at the snow-covered ledge and tried to get a foothold underwater but only slipped further into the depths of the pool. I looked to my friends to rush over and give me a hand. They must have found something humorous in my race between drowning and contracting acute hypothermia; they stood watching my struggle and laughing uncontrollably. The broken ice sheets surrounded me as I bobbed like a cork, desperate to extract myself. Finally, I found an edge large enough to latch onto with my soaked gloved hand and was able to slide out like a seal onto an iceberg.

I leered at my friends as they continued to wail in laughter. Luckily, I had another pair of socks to put on and I borrowed a dry pair of gloves. I spent a long while shivering and doing jumping jacks to warm up. Within twenty minutes the gusting winds had frozen my pants and jacket into a solid sheet of ice. My entire body creaked and cracked with each movement. Even something as simple as lifting my arms above my head was a chore because of the weight of the ice frozen to my sleeves. I looked like an arctic Yeti.

Eventually, I warmed up enough to climb, and it was a lot of fun. But I recall having a passing thought of ending the day immediately after my polar-bear plunge. I thought of hiking back to the car and warming up, getting something warm to drink, listening to the radio and relaxing the rest of the day, but then I realized that I couldn't miss the single day that comprised Oklahoma's ice climbing season. This was a novelty! This was true adventure! This was fun! Plus, my friends wouldn't give me the keys to the car.

EXPOSURE invites short stories of epic climbing-related adventures in the Wichitas.

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FROM THE BOARD

The Board would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to the Access Fund for a decade of technical, legal, financial, and moral support for the efforts of the Wichita Mountains Access Association, Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to protect the valuable climbing resources and unique natural environment of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Baldy Point at Quartz Mountain Nature Park.

In particular, the Board would like to recognize current Access and Acquisitions Director Shawn Tierney, former Access and Acquisitions Director Rick Thompson, former Communications Director Sam Davidson, former Executive Directors John Jurashek and Sally Moser, past President Becky Hall, former Board members Eric Hobday and Larry Gustafson, and Oklahoma Regional Coordinator Marion Hutchison for tirelessly championing our causes. Their staunch support and advocacy was directly responsible for saving climbing at the Refuge and Quartz.

On behalf of our local climbing community, many heart-felt thanks to the entire Access Fund board and staff, past and present, for all of their dedicated efforts.

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WMCC CALENDER

QUARTZ SPRING FLING

When: Saturday and Sunday, April 5th and 6th, 2003

Where: Baldy Point, Quartz Mountain Nature Park

NARROWS TRAIL WORK

When: Saturday and Sunday, September 13th and 14th, 2003

Where: Narrows Trailhead, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

QUARTZ PRIMITIVE TRAILS PROJECT

When: September-November, 2003, Specific dates to be announced

Where: Baldy Point, Quartz Mountain Nature Park

QUARTZ FALL GATHERING

When: Saturday and Sunday, October 4th and 5th, 2003

Where: Baldy Point, Quartz Mountain Nature Park

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

2002 ESSAY WINNER

Congratulations to Aaron Gibson of Tulsa, Oklahoma for his winning essay "A Winter Adventure". Aaron wins a one-year subscription to Rock & Ice Magazine. Aaron's article was submitted under the "Tales from the Gripped" category and appears in this issue of Exposure.

2003 ESSAY CONTEST

The WMCC is sponsoring a Climbing Essay contest that is open to anyone who would like to contribute a short story for use in our newsletter and on our website.

Entries to the Essay Contest must be 750 words or less, typed-written, and fall under one of the following categories:

1) Tales from the Gripped: A narrative account of an epic climbing-related adventure in the Wichitas (including Quartz).

2) Flash from the Past: A narrative account of a memorable first ascent in the Wichitas (including Quartz).

Entry deadline for the contest is October 1st, 2003.

The winner will receive a one-year subscription to Rock & Ice Magazine.

Please send your entry to:

WMCC
P. O. Box 721567
Norman, OK 73070-8207

or

wmcc@wichitamountains.org

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