Yosemite climbing

June 15, 2020

Yosemite climbing

The climbing guild - from experience and reputation - knows this very well… climbing in Yosemite is amazing! This location is considered a mecca for the best rock climbers in the world, and it is an admirable challenge for many to decide to include the walls of this Californian national park in their repertoire. And is not for less!

Those who practice this adventure sport already identify Yosemite as a mandatory stop. However, it should not be doubted that it requires immense courage, and an optimal physical condition and mental preparation to carry out this sports discipline in such a condition. vertical like the one you get on many of the walls of this valley.

If you are a heavy lover of heights and rock climbing is your thing, nothing will fill you with more pride than testing your momentum and skills like the walls in Yosemite National Park will.

Even if at first you are going on a tourist visit or in a beginning phase to observe the terrain or lose any fear, visiting this incredible location will be an amazing experience that will leave you breathless in the best way.

Thinking of taking on the challenge on your next adventure trip? Start the journey right here, and learn more about the climbing experience in Yosemite!

Yosemite climbing


Yosemite is famous for its steep waterfalls and large granite stone slopes. It is a location with more than 3,029 square km and an elevation ranging from 600 to 4000 meters and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. It normally attracts approximately four million visitors a year, although only a few thousand are climbers. In itself, Yosemite is a valley in California, USA, integrated into Yosemite National Park, located in the Sierra Nevada in this same state.

Its privileged fauna and flora, as well as its panoramic views, waterfalls, waterfalls, glacial lakes, granite rock formations and its iconic giant sequoias make it an impressive tourist attraction, especially for lovers of adventure and adventure. large rock climbing (Big Wall Climbing).

Formerly, it was an area inhabited by different aboriginal tribes until the mid-nineteenth century. Despite having been preserved and protected thanks to former President of the United States Abraham Lincoln in 1864, it was finally established as a National Park in 1890, thus becoming one of the top ten in the world.

Yosemite climbing

When planning a visit to Yosemite, keep in mind that the national park is huge, with many conservation rules, and that stretches across 4 counties in the state of California. The vast majority of those who visit him are concentrated in the Yosemite Valley, of about 20 square kilometers, where we find the main tourist locations, hotels, campsites, restaurants and shops.

In addition to taking into account that it is a hot state and that the weather in the park will require adequate clothing and footwear, sunscreen, repellents and others, it must be taken into consideration that it attracts many tourists, so make reservations for accommodation ( hotels or campsites) in advance if that will be important, especially during the summer. None of this takes the fun out of the experience, but it never hurts to prepare well and with time so that you always enjoy to the fullest.

Yosemite climbing


Do you already have experience with climbing large walls or Big Wall Climbing? This is a very particular and demanding type of climbing that suggests a key element: a great wall, like those you will find in Yosemite. But do not forget that it also requires a lot of expertise on the subject, optimal physical and mental condition, and also a lot of information on the nomenclature of surfaces and technical knowledge of the material and equipment. You should prepare very well for this type of climbing, and leave no room for improvisation.

Large Wall Climbing is a type of rock climbing that is accomplished via a multi-span trail using ropes and equipment hooked to the surface of a rock wall. Its ascent means more than a single day of normal, and the use of specialized equipment that you must carry with you and install as you climb, including a specialized hammock because you must live and sleep hanging there during your tour.

That's right, bravery must fit in that backpack that you carry on your back, along with the desire for adventure and adrenaline.

To progress on the walls, you must wear safety tape, a helmet, climbing shoes (climbing shoes), fill your magnesium bag for a better grip, use a harness fastened with carabiners and express straps, and support your ropes on hooks, nails, and stirrups, as well as using embedders, Friends, nails and / or fissures, depending on the case.

However, what will really define the appropriate equipment you will need for your journey (in addition to the most basic elements) is the degree of difficulty of the wall you are going to climb or of each specific section on that wall.

Remember that you must be an expert if you plan to climb on the most difficult and challenging surfaces, and if you are not yet, start at the lowest level, and scale your ticket to the top with a lot of effort, dedication and eagerness to master the sport.

When moving on the walls of this Valley, you must place your protection material on the wall -with temporary locks as we have mentioned before- in the cracks in the wall, but if you cannot do it, insert the calls tobolts (anchor tool) or screws.

Climbing and drilling at the same time will not be easy, and it also requires a lot of care and concentration because in the case of the Yosemite the granite walls are very smooth. You can consider artificially hanging yourself and placing screws on the wall and continuing after finding a resting spot on the climb.

But these are already circumstances that vary greatly depending on the climb, whether you go alone or accompanied, the wall you choose and the style you use. With it will come decisions that you will have to make to reach the top of the wall in the safest way.


Climbers in all their facets will find their place in Yosemite, from the most beginner to the most experienced. So don't worry, there's something for everyone!

You can receive lessons by enrolling in the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service, who offer hands-on classes for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders who haven't tried climbing in Yosemite before. There you can rent all the necessary equipment and also participate in informative seminars.

For the more advanced adventurers, there are the most advanced rocks. The large granite rock formations you find in Yosemite are truly massive walls, and it normally takes several days to climb. The preparation is arduous and the top charming in all its peaks, but the rocks verticalThe most challenging to climb are El Capitan, El Half Dome, El Salto Yosemite and Glacier Point.

Yosemite climbing

The Yosemite Climbing Experience

Climbing in Yosemite is truly an adventure vertical, you look at it from where you look at it. When you arrive at the national park you will breathe a pure air that you have never felt before. And it is so well preserved and cared for that few "mistakes" you will find.

The place is beautiful in every way, although it is true that if it gets very crowded you may get overwhelmed finding a place to stay and so on. But the truth is that it is filled precisely because it is truly unique, both at its base and at its tops.

In addition, it is an experience that you live with yourself and with other colleagues or family. Just like climbing, you can go alone, but if you go with companions it becomes a move that revolves around trust, in yourself and in who climbs with you. So, when you go to Yosemite, you will test the issue of trust a lot, and if you pass that test you will be more than delighted.

Nature over the years has done wonders, and man has always tried to conquer it. And it is that the experience of climbing in Yosemite is all about the conquest, of the rocks of course, but also the conquest of personal limits.

In Yosemite everyone finds their top because, although there are gifted climbers who go to the beast, alone and with no equipment, everyone knows their limits and knows how far they want to go. Step by step the climbers do it in this place, because it is also great for practicing, on rocks of less difficulty and then increasing.

The routes and tracks are dreamy challenges. The waterfalls, the panoramas, the sporty atmosphere, everything is really charming. Courage is perceived in the air, and companionship too. All who go find in it an atmosphere of camaraderie. They all go there at the same level, on a higher or lower level. Adventurous people are eager to have a good time and get out of there proud of themselves, for achieving their goal or for having the courage to try.

Reaching the top is like floating. You feel like you've stepped on the top of the world. And also, the pride you feel in yourself is impressive. You have tamed the "indomitable". Feeling the waterfalls up close is mind-blowing, and also challenging. The water is such that it polishes the rocks, leaving them smooth, imagine that it is like a video game, which increases the difficulty on the way, but in real life. It is also exciting, you never get bored, and you can't! Your best friend will be concentration and consistency as you place each hand, foot, and material between the fissures.

Acclimatizing to the area and adapting to this type of rock will be essential. Practice the adhesion routes, and also the way of fitting between the fissures. This rock is special. By coming into contact with it you find out that it is not just any rock. You should get used to putting and removing the protection material on this type of wall. Practice makes a master. Think about preparing yourself right there with short and medium-long tracks, before taming the larger walls.

There are many that are great for you:

  • Short routes in the base of El Capitán
  • Nutcracker in the Eagle Creek Area
  • Ribbon Fallas Area
  • Reed's Pinnacl Area
  • The Cookie Cliff
  • Arches Terrance
  • Washington Column

These are some examples, but the truth is that there are many good ones to strengthen you and prepare you according to your objectives. Remember that these are some tips that you can take into consideration, but it is not a substitute for a professional guide or trained training.

Degrees of difficulty in Yosemite

The Yosemite difficulty system, and in general the one applied in the United States, is very specific compared to the rest of the European graduation systems and criteria. When you visit Yosemite these are the ones you have to preview before starting your climb.

Developed by Club Sierra in the 30s, the Yosemite Decimal System (YSD) was conceived to graduate climbing and hiking in Sierra Nevada, California, where Yosemite National Park is located.

For those who do not know it, this system is made up of three parts that you must consider: the grade, the class and the protection. The class is the most important because it refers directly to the technical difficulty.

We show you a little the table of equivalences that are worth when you go to practice climbing in Yosemite, with respect to the French system, which is one of the best known:

YSS: Decima Yosemite System

French System






6a +




6b +




6c / +


6c +




7a +




7b +




7c +




8a +




8b +




8c +




9a +




9b +



The other two factors that we have mentioned are measured by their degree of exposure and their degree of commitment.

Remember that in classic climbing it is typical that you have several shared graduations, but also depending on the different routes to take. For example, El Capitan in Yosemite, which interests us, has many routes, and each route has sections where the difficulty changes, and it becomes more or less difficult. You will see it in the specifications of each section of a rock, there are some more "easy" and another more "difficult". The important thing is to know that you can do it successfully. If in the appointments you see the term "obliged" It means that this route contains a section of at least that indicated grade and you must have the skills to overcome it or you will stay halfway. So if you do not master this circumstance, then you do not meet the requirements to escalate.

A bit of history: chronology of the escalation in Yosemite, divided into three periods:

1870 - 1950

Time of approach and exploration.

1950 - 1970

Climbing season and opening of classic itineraries

1970 - 1990

Development and heyday of free and artificial wall climbing.

Increasingly, we have seen professional climbers raise their level of proficiency. They no longer only care about exploration as in the beginning of the climb in this valley, but to take the classic walls climbing in Yosemite to the extreme, in less time and in more risky conditions without harness or traditional equipment.

However, traditional large-wall rock climbing is the most widely practiced in the Yosemite Valley. If you are thinking of being one of the brave people to climb it, the first and main recommendation is that you go very well prepared and have practiced the walls of less difficulty very well. Once you have mastered the simplest is that you can venture through the walls more verticalIt is and demanding like the ones you find in Yosemite, especially the best known and longed for: El Capitan.

Yosemite climbing


It doesn't take much presentation for this legendary wall. With its 914 m prominence and a total elevation of 2.308 m, El Capitan is the great symbol of Yosemite. This impressive granite rock is one of the world's mecca for the most coveted climb.

At the end of the day, no matter which path you choose to climb, the captain will leave you shocked, and reach your top even more. Although The Nose is the most famous and the most difficult of all, it has many avenues to climb, including the following:

  • The Salathé Wall
  • Freerider (in The Salathé Wall)
  • The nose
  • The dawn wall
  • The Dyno Pitch (on The Dawn Wall)
  • Pacific Ocean Wall
  • North American Wall
  • El Niño
  • Gulf stream
  • Native Son
  • Tangerine trip
  • Kaos
  • Zodiac
  • Surgeon General
  • The Prophet

Remember: to really enjoy the rock climbing experience, you need solid knowledge and level 6a skills in rock, as well as having done artificial climbing and being in excellent physical condition.

Yosemite climbing


If you travel to Yosemite you have two options: stay inside the park or stay in nearby cities. As we have mentioned, the national park is immense, so the most advisable thing is to stay within it: you will save time of transfer that is 2 hours (or more if there is traffic) and you also avoid to travel more within it since you will have to Enter and exit daily if you are visiting for several days.

If you decide to stay outside the park, although it is not the most ideal, you will find many accommodation options in the surroundings near the main entrances of the park: Big Oak Flat Entance, Arch Rock Entrance and Fish Camp and Oakhurst.

You find towns near these entrances where you can make a reservation, for example, El Portal, Midpines, and Mariposa,Buck Meadows, Groveland, Sonora. There are options of all styles, you will find something great that suits your budget well.

If you stay within the park you have many more advantages, of course, but it is true that you must do it in time to avoid running out of place, especially if you want to live the camping experience there, which many travelers prefer.

Within the park, the advantage is that you get many types of accommodation, from hotels of all kinds, to private cabins, apartments, and spaces for tents and recreational vehicles. It is important to know how to find each type of accommodation in different locations throughout the park. Then you must locate on a map the exact location that suits you best according to the needs of your trip.

It has 13 campsites or campgrounds divided into three park zones (Yosemite Valley, South Yosemite Valley, and North Yosemite Valley) where you can set up tents or enter with your motorhome / recreational vehicle, depending on its size. It will take you a second to look at the Yosemite National Park website where you can get more information on the subject in this link.

In the Yosemite Valley area is where most tourists stay so it will have more influx. The southern area is rather close to the giant sequoia forest. And the north area also has neighboring points of interest more towards the entrance of the Big Oak Flat.

You reserve the places for campsites online on the park's website, but you must do so several months in advance. You can choose the camping area you want as long as it is enabled because not all are open throughout the year. And then there are also others that are not reserved, but are managed on a first-come, first-served basis, what they call "First-come, first-served."

The tents camping tents (already arranged in the park) is a very cheap means of accommodation for which you can choose if your budget is somewhat tight and also if you are a lover of camping and you like all these types of campfire moves and others . Normally, they have bunk beds to save space, and although some may have heating, there are many that freeze during the winter, so you should prepare very well for them if you visit these stores during this time of year.

The squares are also managed by the park and there are several areas to choose from. You will find 4 camps specifically for this accommodation, and an additional one that functions as a winter hostel at Glacier Point.

The two most famous you get in the Yosemite Valley area: The Half Dome Village, which is the largest of all with a pool area and large shops, some equipped with their own bathroom; and the Housekeeping Camp. On the access road to the Tioga Pass you will find the other two: the White Wolf Lodge and the Tuolumne Meadows which, although closed during winter, also admit this type of accommodation the rest of the year.

There are also the park areas where you find the wooden houses and the apartments that are very beautiful and picturesque in style, as well as having all the luxuries and comforts. You find them in three areas of the park: Yosemite West, Wawona, Foresta.

And then we found beautiful hotels within the park, but there are only three and they fill the spaces very quickly, so the advance booking is essential. This option is more luxurious, and therefore more expensive: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (about € 500 per night), Yosemite Valley Lodge (about € 250 per night) and Big Tress Lodge (about € 150-200 per night).

Yosemite climbing

On the mythical Field 4

Let's talk a little about the mythical field 4 and why it is so famous among climbers.

It was the meeting place for the most outlawed climbers of the 60's, who did not have a penny, but they were lovers of climbing and they did not mind staying out in the open and camping as long as they were close to the largest and most challenging rocks . At this time the Yosemite Valley becomes THE PLACE to climb, and little by little they shaped the future of the sport.

This field is still highly sought after and also very special within the nostalgic. But today it is subject to new maintenance rules, like the rest of the park, especially for its care and conservation. So the traditional atmosphere has dissipated more and more.

In addition, the reservation system for places at this location has also been recently modified. The traditional system that worked by scoring on a list is no longer relevant. Right now you must register on the park page and make a payment of $ 10 that gives you access to the weekly raffle for a place, and with any luck you will be able to stay there.

Although there are legendary things that remain. You will fall in love with the smell of firewood from bonfires and pine sap as you walk through this field, listening in the distance to an atmosphere of camaraderie and laughter among colleagues. Today it is not difficult to find all kinds of people, from entrepreneurs to hippies, and also from all over the world. Strolled through this field you can listen to Chinese, Italian, Russian ... everyone on their own, arriving from a climb or preparing to climb, between picnics, laughter, crying and even guitar or harmonica chords in the distance, a community of people gather completely different, but with a common passion: climbing large walls.

Yosemite climbing

Without a doubt, you find the most impressive mecca of granite between these great walls of California, regardless of whether you climb El Capitán or another wall of the park alone or with your colleagues, you will feel an almost liberating adrenaline sensation. This place has become a benchmark for rock climbing and also a perfect place to break new records and watch new climbers grow.

And it is that, regardless of their ability, every climber who travels to Yosemite arrives with the dream of completing the climbing route that he longs for. For many it has become a rite of passage and for others an annual tradition. If you are in a position to fulfill the dream of climbing big walls, you can make it come true in Yosemite, California. Investigating and practicing a lot will be the key to your success, but also commitment and the desire to excel.

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