Conservation Team Continues Legacy of Stewardship at Quartz Mountain

04/01/2013

~ Eddie Wooldridge & Claire Wagstaff, Conservation Team Crew

It had been five years since the trail leading around Baldy Point (or "Quartz" as is it referred to by the local climbing community) had any repairs made to it. This huge slab of granite lies within the Quartz Mountain Nature Park near Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. Quartz is the crown jewel of granite domes found in the Wichita Mountain chain in southwest Oklahoma, hosting nearly a hundred one and two pitch climbs on its three hundred foot high, half-mile long south face. Renowned California climber Doug Robinson once referred to Quartz as the "Tuolumne of the Midwest", a testimony to the quality of the climbing opportunities found there.

Quartz Jeep
Many changes have occurred at Quartz since legendary Access Fund trail builder Jim Angell worked on these trails nearly 12 years ago. But it wasn’t difficult to feel his presence. Whether it was an old friend telling stories of him on the trail or seeing what his own two hands had built, it was clear the local climbers cherished him and this rock.

Jim Angell Trailboss Jim Angell leads his bridge-carrying platoon of volunteers down the Baldy Point Trail in 2001. (Photo courtesy of WMCC)


But the

trail was showing signs of wear with graffiti, a dilapidated bridge,

briar covering the boulders, trash, and erosion problems throughout. After walking and assessing the trail with Park Manager Glen Kirk and Access Fund’s former Oklahoma Regional Coordinator Marion Hutchison, Claire and I could tell the weekend ahead would be hard work. Luckily, we knew the volunteer turnout would be great since we worked with many of the same volunteers at the Adopt a Crag in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge the week before. Volunteers from the Texas Mountaineers and the Wichita Mountain Climbers Coalition (WMCC) regularly drive from as far as five hours away to climb at Baldy Point, once again proving how important this area is to climbers in the region.

The energy during the Adopt a Crag was contagious. The local climbers here share a passion for improving their local crag, and their eagerness to learn from us was evident from the start. As we walked, Claire and I highlighted the briar and graffiti to be removed, the bridge that would be replaced, and the erosion in need of repair. Working our way back, we taught the volunteers how to properly trim branches away from the trail and how to dig dip drains to divert water off the trail. Based upon individual experience, comfort, and curiosity, each volunteer chose the section of the trail they wanted to work on.

Quartz Briar
As the day progressed, boulders slowly became exposed, water was diverted, and trash picked up. And we even managed to squeeze in a few climbs before the sun went down! The day ended with a group dinner at Luigi’s, the local pizzeria, where climbing stories are exchanged, local problems are addressed, and connections are made.

The next day everyone was quick to get back to work. As the dip drains were finished and landscaping resumed near the boulders, volunteers put some elbow grease into the graffiti removal. All of the graffiti was successfully removed from caves, rock faces, and signs—by no means an easy endeavor.

Quartz Grafitti
Our final task was to replace the bridge, which had previously been constructed out of the old Quartz Mountain State Park sign that had seen better days. We're grateful to the folks at Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition and the staff at Access Fund headquarters for providing funding for the graffiti removal supplies and new planks for the bridge.

Quartz bridge

Although Jim wasn’t there to give us a hand, his legacy lives on in the community. It was a pleasure working alongside such open and welcoming climbers. This place is a perfect example of why conservation awareness needs to continue from generation to generation. Leaving Baldy Point was a little bittersweet, but we hope that we left behind some knowledge to help the volunteers continue to maintain their trails long after we are gone—something Jim would be proud of.

Quartz 1