The unique glacier-carved geology of Yosemite National Park not only give it amazing scenery, but also creates a wonderland of boulders and granite rock formations for adventurous souls to climb. Whether it’s your first time bouldering or your umpteenth expert big wall climb, you’ll find plenty of rocks to get a grip on here. Climbers of all skill levels can also visit more nearby national parks or drive over to the east side of the Sierra Nevada to Mammoth Mountain and Lake Tahoe. You’ll never run out of vertical challenges here.
Inside the park, the Yosemite Mountaineering School (YMS) offers climbing gear rental, group and private climbing lessons, and climbing workshops for intermediate and advanced climbers. If you’re a beginner, ask about introductory “Go Climb a Rock” and “Girls on Granite” weekends. Experts should check out YMS’ advanced crack and big-wall climbing courses and technical self-rescue and ice-climbing workshops. For more information, visit www.yosemitepark.com or call (209) 372-8344. YMS is based at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, except during summer when its shifts operations up to the Tuolumne Meadows area off Tioga Road.
Yosemite Valley Rock Climbing
At the western edge of Yosemite Valley, rock climbers all gather at Camp 4. This raucous campground is almost within spitting distance of El Capitan, the valley’s most fearsome big-wall challenge. El Capitan was once thought to be impossible to climb, that is, until “The Nose” of El Capitan was first conquered in 1958 after a 47-day climb. In 2008, speed climbers set a new record for the route, taking just 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 5 seconds to summit.
Other technical routes lead up the northwest face of Half Dome, which dramatically overhangs the valley. Free climbers flock to Yosemite Falls, while crack climbers play in the Merced River Canyon.
Around the valley, you’ll find plenty of spots to try out bouldering, including at Camp 4, Sentinel Rock, and Cathedral Spires and Rocks.
Tuolumne Meadows Rock Climbing
Off Tioga Road in the Sierra Nevada high country, Tuolumne Meadows is where most of the rock-climbing action happens during Yosemite’s short summer season, usually from late June until early September.
Those looking to do a little bouldering should check out The Knobs.
Tuolumne Meadows is most famous for its dome climbs, some of which end with incredible natural panoramas of mountains, canyons, and alpine lakes. The most popular of these climbs include Lembert Dome and Stately Pleasure Dome, which has views of Tenaya Lake. But these routes are just the beginning – the climbing possibilities here are almost infinite.
First-Time Rock Climber?
When you’re in Yosemite, don’t just oogle at the world-class rock climbers ascending the park’s iconic El Capitan and Half Dome. Join them. The Yosemite Mountaineering School offers a beginner rock climbing class, “Welcome to the Rock.” Each group is limited to six students ages 10 and up and one instructor. Based at a beginner’s climbing area, you’ll learn all about rock climbing gear and how to climb Yosemite’s famous granite.
Learn more at travelyosemite.com