Yosemite climbing

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Trip Plan

The idea here is to leave Wednesday evening (Sept 27) and show up in Yosemite the morning of the 28th, and climb stuff until we can't anymore, and drive back starting on Sunday (Oct 1) afternoon, to arrive on time for classes that we will promptly sleep through on Monday. The drive will require multiple drivers per car, because it would be bad if one person tried to drive continuously for 18 hours. We will camp at Camp 4, the worst campsite in the park, but also where all the climbers are. It's also the cheapest. $5/night.

A Brief Intro to Yosemite

Yosemite is one of the main cradles of rock climbing in North America. It sets the standard for what the climbing grades are, and the climbers there set the standard for what good climbing is. The rock is clean, the air is dry, and the climbing is fantastic. All the rock is granite, and most of the climbing is either trad crack or sport. Trad face climbs exist, but I don't recommend them, unless you like scaring the crap out of yourself on enormous runouts. El Cap is the centerpiece of the Yosemite valley, and is the largest granite monolith in the world. (The Chief is #2) The centerpiece route on El Cap is the Nose, a 34 pitch, 13b legend that typically takes 3 or more days. On the other end of the spectrum, there are truly great 5.6, 7 and 8s all around the park as well, both in multipitch and single pitch versions. Some great hikes also exist.

Climbing Grades

The climbing grades used in North America--the 5.9 stuff--comes from Yosemite. The way the routes are graded in Yosemite sets the standard for other crags, in theory. Squamish is rated soft, at least in the lower grades, so if you climb 5.8 by Squamish standards, you might want to start 5.5 or 5.6 in Yosemite.

Grades compared

Squamish Yosemite
5.1-5.3 5.1
5.4 5.2
5.5 5.3
5.6 5.4
5.7 5.5
5.8 5.6-5.7
5.9 5.8
5.10a 5.9
5.10b 5.10a-b

I think in the higher grades are more equivilant, but I haven't climbed them.

Weather and Clothing

It doesn't rain very much in Yosemite--it's almost a desert. When it does rain, though, it really pours. And hails. Odds are that we won't see clouds, and if it does rain, that it will only last a couple hours, and then the sun will be out again. Bring lots of stuff for hot days and coolish nights, because it's the standard, but bring one emergency storm outfit. One guy I climbed with there told me about a time he was on a wall, shirt off, sweating like a pig, and within 20 minutes the clouds had come over the ridge he was climbing and started raining ice cold water, mixed with lots of ping-pong ball sized hail, and the dihedral he was climbing turned into a waterfall, leaving him a shivering mess. To recap, odds of it raining are slim, but you better be ready for it just the same.


There are a lot of sport routes, but WAY more trad routes, so if you've got any gear, bring it. Yosemite was heavily climbed before nuts and cams, so there are pin scars everywhere. Nuts and standard cams don't fit into the pin scars. Tricams, Aliens and 3-lobe cams really help a lot.

If you don't have gear, though, you should still come. Only every other person climbing trad needs a rack. Camp 4 is also filled with people looking for climbing partners. Many of these people have racks and ropes themselves. The two times I went looking for a climbing partner, I found on in under 10 seconds. (I'm not even exagerating a bit there)


The bears in Yosemite are nuts. They have this routine where they come to camp at night, and people shout and bang pots until they leave, and then they come back in half an hour to repeat the process. Eventually, they find everyone asleep, and come into camp. If they find something that smells like food, deodorant, toothpaste, or anything that might be possible to maybe eat, they trash it, and eat whatever they can. After that, they go to the parking lot and find the car that smells tastiest, and trash it too. This has happened 305 times in the part already this year, as of August 30. Everything has to go in the bear-proof boxes. If you leave a tic-tac in the car, you're boned. That said, they seem to be much better behaved than normal bears as far as messing up people is concerned.


There are restaurants near the camp, and a free shuttle to take you there. You can also cook food with a stove in camp, and camp fires are allowed from 5:00PM-10:00PM.


There is a trip sign up sheet on the tack board outside the club room. People with cars will get to go. If more non-car people sign up than there are car seats, then priority will be given to people who sign up first, and to people who have racks, if it looks like we don't have enough gear between us.

There will be an organizational meeting in the clubroom, at 7:00 PM, Monday Sept 27. It will be rad.