FEATURED SHADY CLIMBS OF THE MONTH FOR JULY – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
Ahhhh, July, the Oklahoma climber’s favorite month to go climbing. Ideal conditions aren’t they? 100°+, relentless rays of scorching sunshine, no sign of a cold front, and nary a shade tree within 100 yards. These are the joys of climbing in July in Oklahoma. So what is one to do? I propose three options: 1) stay inside, rent a good movie and drink a refreshing beverage. 2) Go to the climbing gym. Sure it’s hot, but not Africa hot. It’s more the, simmer-at-medium-heat type hot. Or final there is option #3: head for the real rock and scour the area for any shady spot you can find. Flip for who has to lead the blazing hot wall and suffer from third-degree burns. Have your partner set it up on top-rope, watch him/her claw their way closer to the sun dripping in sweat and chalking up every three seconds in hopes of not slithering off the frying-pan hot stone. Then, when it’s your turn, have a cool drink, sit back in your Crazy-Creek chair and tell them, “It’s too hot for this shit, let’s go home, rent a movie and drink some beer.”
For those of you that are die-hards, for those you that enjoy heat-exhaustion, sunburns, dehydration, and burned fingertips here’s a short list of some cooler climbs in Oklahoma:
1) Crazy Alice, The Narrows, Wichita’s. Best in the morning until noon. After that, forget it.
2) Charon’s Gardens? Don’t even think about it unless you are a complete masochist. This includes Elk Slabs, Echo Dome, Lost Dome and the West side of Crab Eyes. If you DO decide that Charon’s is the place you just have to go, you can climb on the East side of Crab Eyes early in the day. But beware…it’s a long HOT hike there and back. I’ve done it all too many times and every year I am reminded of how hot summer is in the Wichita’s.
3) Mount Scott? Lower Scott isn’t bad…shady in the afternoon. Upper Scott gets hot and stays hot. Although there is usually a good breeze on upper and lower Scott which cools things off. Good choice for summer climbing.
4) The Meadows…this place has lots of trees and is very shady. The upper part of the Thunderdome is likely to be in the sun in the afternoon. Cooler than most other areas in the Wichita’s. Another good choice for summer climbing.
5) Chandler Park, Tulsa. Shady? YES!!…GREASY? YES. You don’t know what a slick hold is until you’ve tried to pull on Chandler Park limestone in the middle of summer.
Some words to the wise: anyone who knows anything about summer hiking will bring TONS of water. You think you got enough? Pack filled up with water? BRING MORE. Listen…this is serious…I’ve seen heat exhaustion happen too many times. Be prepared for the worst. In the summer you are going to move slower, and have less energy….you are going to sweat your ass off. So bring lots and lots of water. Bring something with sugar, too. Fast energy. Chocolate will melt, don’t bring it. Bring fruit or an energy bar. Start early, climb, leave early, eat, come back and climb in the evening when it cools off. There’s no point in punishing yourself during the heat of the day…you won’t climb that well anyway, you’ll be too damn exhausted. Climbing is supposed to be fun, remember? Find some shade and you’ll enjoy the day more!