Credits: National Parks USA fb page
It all started with a resolve to go rock climbing each year with my climbing partner. This year we picked Yosemite, as last year we discovered the slabs and faces of Joshua Tree.
Encompassing more than 747,000 acres, Yosemite is known for its roughly 3.5 million visitors every season.
Alongside being one of the greatest national parks in North America, Yosemite is also most well known as a mecca for rock climbing—making it a place that we couldn’t possibly pass up.
So how did rock climbing become part of Yosemite’s allure? The first recorded technical ascent in Yosemite occurred in 1869 when George G. Anderson and John Muir made an ascent of Cathedral Peak using ropes and other climbing techniques. The “Golden Age” of rock climbing set in between the 1950s and 70s, with a focus on big wall climbing. Pioneer climbers including Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, and Joe Fitschen set their sights on the massive granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Climbing in Yosemite
Known for its face climbing and cracks—a feature of climbing out West—we took up the challenge. Personally I was most used to the small crimps and finger holds, especially after climbing in The Gunks on the East Coast (I’ll save this story for another day).
We started on a Thursday evening in June, getting to Fresno around 7pm. From there, we drove two-and-a-half hours out Eastward into Yosemite valley. The drive was flat land and then dry brush until you finally entered a tunnel. It’s as if this tunnel was designed to prepare you for the beauty you were about to encounter—as if a portal to another world—emerging from the tunnel you see the valley in its splendor, nothing that words can describe.
We had finally made it around 11:00pm at night. It seemed as if eerie dark clouds hung high up in the sky and kept following us, when I realized that in reality we were looking at and driving through large monoliths of granite.
Our check in at Curry Village went smoothly—an iconic and historic part of anyone’s Yosemite visit—courtesy of their 24-hour front desk. Established in 1899 by David and Jennie Curry, the campsite known as Camp Curry, offers accommodations and services to the visitors of Yosemite Valley.
Back to School: The Yosemite Mountaineering School (YMS)
Our guide was the only female guide at YMS. In order to be a guide, a person must usually have: climbing experience, certification and training through American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification, high level teaching and communication skills, physical fitness and strength, knowledge of Yosemite National Park, professionalism, and the ability to adapt to different customer’s needs.
One can imagine how most of the time it’s difficult for women to become YMS guides, given the time-commitment required outside of usual family responsibilities and motherhood. On top of that, I imagine not too many female guides want to be part of a system where they would be such a small minority.
A picture of me trying my freshly brewed skills at crack climbing the granite faces and cracks typical of Yosemite rock climbing. You just have to trust the clear faces of the rock with your feet! Something I was not very used to coming from the GUNKS in the northeast
My climbing partner, Jen and I at our first multi-pitch climb of the day and the image to the right is that of the famous El Cap right at the bottom - The most majestic monolith!
After two days of climbing we decided to hit up Upper Yosemite falls which we thought would take us a half day and ended up taking us 5-6 hours with a lot of rain at the top.
Upper Yosemite Falls is a majestic waterfall I have ever seen, with a total height of approximately 1,430 feet (435 meters). The strenuous trail to reach the top covers a distance of about 7.2 miles (11.6 kilometers) and involves a challenging elevation gain of around 2,700 feet (823 meters). It took us 3 hours each way and when we finally hit the summit it was worth it! However we also hit thunderstorms, and I have never been on top of a mountain with no trees for shelter. We literally sought shelter under a rock. I did get damp and wet, but it was worth it! I stood before the tallest waterfall in all of North America at one of its fullest times, as the Valley hadn’t seen this much rainfall in years.
The Sunrise I Missed and a reason to return…
Heading back to the airport at around 5 in the morning to catch a re-scheduled early flight, we stopped at the “Tunnel View” , a popular spot that I would highly recommend for breathtaking sunsets of the valley. Almost catching the 5:35 sunrise in the valley, we decided to make a go for the airport…otherwise we would miss our flight.
I thought the West Coast was not known for its sunrises, so we focused on catching any sundown we could and were lucky enough to see the most breathtaking sunsets of all time. Later I saw a National Park picture of scenery in the same spot (1st picture up top on the blog), and it made me grateful to have captured this experience in person.
Climbing reminds me how the pursuit of progress and personal growth takes on a diverse array of paths—regardless of going up a physical mountain, or changing career paths. The road to advancement is not bound by a rigid template that everyone must conform to.
I choose to celebrate the diversity of life's paths and the extraordinary potential encapsulated within each unique trajectory.
In our roles as managers, mentors, or simply fellow human beings, let us embody compassion, supporting and empowering others on their journeys, regardless of how unfamiliar or unconventional they may appear. By doing so, we contribute to a world where the full range of human potential can flourish, unhindered by narrow expectations or preconceived notions.
Subscribe to Find Out More!