Expose yourself (on a wall of granite).
Yosemite is a rock-climber’s paradise for granite and big wall climbing. It’s impossible to miss the size of the walls when you drive into the park. The Park is a world-class destination as Yosemite boasts huge granite slabs up to 3000′ (33-34 pitches including traverses). Given the exceptional natural beauty of the surrounding meadows, lakes, and forest, it’s hard to imagine a better place to learn the fundamentals of rock climbing!
El Capitan, Half Dome and Tuolumne Meadows are the major points of interest with countless other walls, and peaks up to 13,000 feet. The Cookie is good for short crack climbs. Manure Pile is a good multi-pitch climb. Buttress, just east of El Cap has three classic, straightforward routes: After 6, After 7, and Nutcracker. These can get pretty crowded so it’s best to take them on early in the morning.
Snake Dike on Half Dome is a dramatic moderate-difficulty climb. You pass two waterfalls and an alpine lake on the trail to the foot of Half Dome, from which you climb 800′ along the southwest face of the rock. This full-day excursion includes a six-mile hike to the base, eight pitches of climbing and a 9-mile descent to the valley floor. It is one of the more popular climbers’ routes in the park.
In the Valley, experts have recommended Swan Slab (behind the Yosemite Lodge next to the main road), Sunnyside Bench and The Church Bowl Area.
In Tuolumne, look for Puppy Dome, the West Side of Pot Hole Dome and Western Front near Daff Dome.
A good book on rope climbing in Yosemite is “Yosemite Top Ropes”, available at the Mountaineering store or online. One of the best sources for topos and betas is supertopo.com.
The Yosemite Mountaineering School
The Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service offers beginner through advanced classes in Yosemite Valley spring through fall, and in Tuolumne Meadows in summer. They are an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) accredited guide service and a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) member ski school.
Our clinics and seminars are designed to give the intermediate and advanced climbers new and extended skill sets. Offered each year, these events occur on scheduled dates and fill up fast. Clinics cost $200 for one person; generous group discounts are available for two or more.
All of our climbing classes average 7 hours in length, unless otherwise listed, so be prepared for a full day of fun. Classes meet daily at 8:30 am at either Curry Village in Yosemite Valley or at the Mountain School in Tuolumne Meadows, depending on where you are scheduled. Reservations are strongly recommended. Our classes build upon each other and are designed to be taken sequentially, so that you can pick the single class you need, design the perfect multi-day seminar, or come up every couple of weeks and get our entire curriculum. Fees range from $217 to $235.
Guided Climbs and Private Classes
Guided Climbs and Private Lessons are available daily at all levels. All YMS guided climbs are really private lessons. In other words, we will give you as much information as possible along the way. Private lessons are a great way to get focused individual attention, where you determine the ratio of climbing to instruction. Reservations may be necessary and are always very helpful—At peak season we are often booked weeks in advance. Prices are based on the duration of the outing and the number of people in your group. Climb fees start at $221 for one person for 6 hours.
If you would like to make a reservation, have questions that would help you choose the best class or outing, or any questions at all, please call the Mountaineering School at (209) 372-8344.
Photo credit: mariachily