climbing yosemite

climbing yosemiteYosemite is wide­ly regard­ed as the birth­place of Amer­i­can climb­ing, espe­cial­ly big wall climb­ing, and for good rea­son. It’s been mak­ing head­lines in the climb­ing world since John Muir’s 1869 ascent of Cathe­dral Peak, three years before Yel­low­stone would be des­ig­nat­ed the first U.S. Nation­al Park, and as recent­ly as when free-soloist Alex Hon­nold topped El Cap­i­tan sans rope in under four hours.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it’s still very dangerous.

How­ev­er, not all of the head­lines have been quite so cel­e­bra­to­ry. In 2015, the icon­ic gran­ite giant Half Dome lost a pair of pitch­es, but even bewil­der­ing head­lines like “2,500 Tons of Rock Fell Off Half Dome and Nobody Noticed” are still prefer­able to the type of head­lines report­ing rock­fall fatal­i­ties, which we saw with a series of back-to-back rock­falls at famed Yosemite big wall El Cap­i­tan ear­li­er this year.

Rock climb­ing has its share of inher­ent risks: over­con­fi­dent self-assess­ment, inad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion, unco­op­er­a­tive weath­er, and even gear fail­ure reg­u­lar­ly con­tribute to injury in the climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty. Abil­i­ty to mit­i­gate those risks is key to safe climb­ing, but unfor­tu­nate­ly for the out­door climber, rock­fall is one of the less pre­dictable and there­fore less man­age­able risks.

Yosemite park geol­o­gist Greg Stock doc­u­ments a rock­fall a week on aver­age, although on the bright side, he also reports that only around fif­teen peo­ple have died as a result of rock­falls in 150 years, and he and a team of sci­en­tists have been hard at work for the last decade study­ing Yosemite’s rock­falls in the name of harm reduction.

What safe­ty mea­sures can be taken?

Short of stay­ing home, there are no tried-and-true meth­ods that will guar­an­tee a climber’s safe­ty against rock­fall; the dynam­ic nature of the big walls and exfo­li­at­ing gran­ite sheets mean that every cliff is a haz­ard zone, twen­ty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Still, climbers would do well to begin by famil­iar­iz­ing them­selves with these tips from the Friends of Yosemite Search and Res­cue, gen­er­at­ed from a detailed analy­sis of over twen­ty years of climb­ing injuries and fatal­i­ties. Weath­er reports might not be able to pre­dict the kind of spon­ta­neous thun­der­storms that may put climbers at risk of hypother­mia, but recent rain­fall is a known trig­ger for rock­fall, so climbers should always check con­di­tions before rop­ing up.

Route clo­sures must be respected—even if it’s “just” for endan­gered bird species (I guar­an­tee you don’t want to be star­tled by an angry pere­grine fal­con dur­ing an ascent). And if rock­fall has been report­ed recent­ly in an area, or if the ground shows signs of recent rock­fall, climbers may do very well to relo­cate their climb­ing since rock­fall regions may be active for weeks or months at a time.

There are plen­ty of options.

The good news is that while Half Dome and El Cap­i­tan get most of the head­lines, Yosemite has got plen­ty of options when it comes to climb­ing, espe­cial­ly if you’re will­ing to leave the crowds of the Val­ley. Try the South­east But­tress of Cathe­dral Peak, a 700’ clas­sic tra­di­tion­al alpine climb that soars above Tuolumne Mead­ows, or test your met­tle against The North Face of The Ros­trum in the Low­er Merced Riv­er Valley—a blis­ter­ing eight-pitch, 5.11c climb by the Yosemite Dec­i­mal Sys­tem. If you just can’t bear to leave the beau­ty of the Val­ley, though, good routes can still be found through­out: the Roy­al Arch­es, a white gran­ite arch that tow­ers over the for­mer Ahwah­nee Hotel, offers both tra­di­tion­al and sport pitch­es at rat­ings rang­ing from 5.7 to 5.11c; the Wash­ing­ton Col­umn just to the east serves up some begin­ner-friend­ly big wall climb­ing on the South Face route; and the unfor­tu­nate­ly-named Manure Pile nev­er­the­less fea­tures both toprope and tra­di­tion­al climbs, includ­ing After Six and Nut­crack­er, that are pop­u­lar with new and old blood alike.

And if you’re more into crash-mats than fin­ger-width cams—that is, if you’re look­ing for some good bouldering—Yosemite’s got you cov­ered there, too. All that rock­fall means that the valley’s lit­tered with over sev­en hun­dred iden­ti­fied boul­der­ing prob­lems rang­ing from the sim­plest at V0 up to V11 (look­ing at you, Yabo Boul­der). There’s a lit­tle some­thing for every­one here, so, grab your chalk bags and get ready to climb on.

Coyote Buttes, The Wave

Look­ing to have a life-chang­ing adven­ture this upcom­ing year? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, some of the more icon­ic hikes and adven­tures will require you to wait in line or get your per­mit quick­ly. These are the hard­est back­coun­try per­mits to get, and how one might go about actu­al­ly get­ting them.

Things to Know About Adven­ture Per­mits (Even the Easy Ones to Get)
Some gen­er­al tips for get­ting pop­u­lar back­coun­try per­mits include falling all the direc­tions to a tee. If fax­ing your appli­ca­tion is the best-rec­om­mend­ed action, dust off the fax machine and fax away. Flex­i­bil­i­ty is also key, espe­cial­ly if you’re aim­ing for a walk-up per­mit of any kind, and know­ing the alter­na­tive trail­heads and hav­ing back-up itin­er­aries will ensure max­i­mum suc­cess. Also, keep in mind group size; while it’s fun to get every­one out on the adven­ture, larg­er groups have more spe­cif­ic require­ments and can make it hard­er to get a permit.

Last­ly, just because you got the per­mit, doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly qual­i­fy you for the adven­ture. Know your own abil­i­ties, pack the right util­i­ties, and under­stand the envi­ron­ment you are putting your­self in.


Hik­ing the John Muir Trail

John Muir TrailFor many hik­ers, the John Muir Trail (JMT) is the epit­o­me of back­coun­try hik­ing. This is one of the hard­est back­coun­try per­mits to get, and there’s a good rea­son for that. It’s got pic­turesque moun­tain pass­es, serene moun­tain lakes, and alpine inspi­ra­tion to last you a life­time. As a result, there are many avid adven­tur­ers look­ing to make this epic 210-mile hike, and for good reason.

How to Apply
Requests for JMT per­mits have lit­er­al­ly dou­bled over the last five years. As such, total usage of the trail has tripled since the year 2002. This rise in pop­u­lar­i­ty has sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased the impact on the area. As a result, we have the Inter­im Exit Quo­ta Sys­tem. For most hik­ers who are look­ing to start at the North­ern Ter­mi­nus of the JMT (Hap­py Isles & Lyell Canyon), you will need to Apply For Your Per­mit at least 168 days in advance (24 weeks). Apply via fax for your best chances, and believe that they go fast; accord­ing to the NPS, 97% of these per­mits are declined.

Oth­er Options
There are a num­ber of oth­er ways to get access to this moun­tain cathe­dral coun­try, though. And they all require some extra research and time. If you can’t get a per­mit with­in Yosemite, you can start your hike in anoth­er area not man­aged by the nation­al park. Sim­ply put, your oth­er-agency per­mit should grant you access to the trail. Check out these oth­er trail­heads where you could start your jour­ney. If all else fails, there’s anoth­er option. First-come, first-served per­mits are issued begin­ning at 11 a.m. the day before your trip at the near­est ranger sta­tion to your entry point.


Day Hik­ing Coy­ote Buttes, Arizona

Coyote Buttes, The WaveTucked into the south­west sand­stone of north­ern Ari­zona and south­ern Utah is the Paria Canyon-Ver­mil­lion Cliffs Wilder­ness, home to Coy­ote Bluffs and one of the hard­est day-hik­ing per­mits to obtain. Coy­ote Buttes is most known for the geo­log­ic land for­ma­tion known as “the Wave.” It’s a bril­liant dis­play of swirling sand­stone in its pris­tine environment.

How to Apply
Coy­ote Buttes (CB) per­mits are split into two areas: North and South. No mat­ter the direc­tion you enter, the entire­ty is day-use only, with too few water sup­plies to sup­port overnight trav­el­ers. North CB con­tains the famed Wave for­ma­tion, but the South holds its own too. Both areas only allow 20 peo­ple a day, 10 of which are giv­en out via lot­tery (for North CB) or reser­va­tion (South CB) four months in advance.

Walk-In Per­mits
The oth­er 10 dai­ly per­mits are walk-ins. And recent odds of obtain­ing a North CB per­mit through the lot­tery have been as low as 3%. So your bet­ter bet is the walk-in per­mit. Show up at the Grand Stair­case-Escalante Vis­i­tors Cen­ter the day before your desired trip between 8:30—9:00 a.m. Utah time, and put your name in the hat.


Hik­ing Half Dome, Yosemite Nation­al Park

Half DomeWhile most vis­i­tors enjoy the splen­dors of Yosemite Val­ley as a road­side attrac­tion, it is pos­si­ble to get a lit­tle clos­er to the action on Half Dome, and you don’t have to be a seri­ous climber to do it. You do have to be in mod­er­ate­ly good shape though. This 14–16 mile climb gains over 4,000 feet in ele­va­tion and is steep enough to require its name­sake fea­ture. Lit­er­al cables to help your final ascent to the top.

How to Apply
The offi­cial cables of the Cables Route typ­i­cal­ly go up at the end of May and remain there into ear­ly Octo­ber, and you’ll need a per­mit all sev­en days of the week. Yosemite Nation­al Park only issues 300 per­mits to climb a day, and 225 of those per­mits are up for grabs in the pre­sea­son lot­tery from March 1st through 31st. Max­i­mum group size is six, and each mem­ber of the par­ty can apply for your group’s per­mit. To help your chances of land­ing next year’s Cables per­mits, check out the stats on the most pop­u­lar days to apply.

The Oth­er 75 Permits
If you are up for an overnight trek, there are oth­er options. You might have bet­ter chances of obtain­ing a wilder­ness per­mit that includes the Cables route in your jour­ney. Yosemite reserves 75 permits/day for back­pack­ers want­i­ng to do this (with 25 of those reserved as walk-up per­mits). And there is no pre­sea­son lot­tery for these, just apply up to 24 weeks in advance.


Back­pack­ing the Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton Nation­al Park

Teton Crest TrailSee for your­self why Grand Teton is one of the most pop­u­lar Nation­al Parks in the coun­try. Sharp, jagged peaks, lush alpine val­leys, and dra­mat­ic vis­tas that will astound. Overnight trips into these mag­i­cal moun­tains can be hard to get a per­mit for. Pop­u­lar overnight hikes like the 40-mile Teton Crest Trail have a ten­den­cy to fill up with­in days, if not hours. So be sure to act fast if the Grand Tetons are on your radar this upcom­ing season.

How to Get a Permit
A third of all back­coun­try per­mits for Grand Teton Nation­al Park are avail­able for ear­ly reser­va­tion between the first Wednes­day of Jan­u­ary and May 15th. Look­ing to bag a clas­sic route like the Teton Crest Trail? You’ll want to apply as ear­ly as pos­si­ble. Fax­ing in your appli­ca­tion can ensure the quick­est deliv­ery. The oth­er ⅔ of the avail­able per­mits are reserved for walk-ins, which can be secured up to a day in advance. If you do your research and are flex­i­ble with a few back­up plans, you’re sure to find a good time on your next impromp­tu trip out.

Know Before You Go
There a few things to con­sid­er before plan­ning your trip into the Tetons. If you camp with­in the park, expect to not only watch the Required Back­coun­try Video, but under­stand the con­cepts and dan­gers ahead of you. Among oth­er things, also be aware that although the hik­ing sea­son tra­di­tion­al­ly starts in June, snow is near­ly always present, espe­cial­ly in the high­er ele­va­tions, and know­ing how to cross that ter­rain is imper­a­tive to your success.


Back­pack­ing the Bright Angel and the North & South Kaibab Trails, Grand Canyon Nation­al Park

south kaibab trailWhile Grand Canyon Nation­al Park issues over 10,000 back­coun­try per­mits a year, your odds of receiv­ing one for the cov­et­ed Bright Angel and North & South Kaibab trails dur­ing the peak sea­sons (April-May & Sept.-Oct.) are worse than your chances of get­ting denied. Indeed, this one def­i­nite­ly ranks as one of the tough­est back­coun­try per­mits to get.

How to Apply
If you want to hike in the Grand Canyon overnight, request your per­mit by the first day of the month that is four months pri­or to your trip. For exam­ple, if you want to hike April 15th, apply by Decem­ber 1st. Grand Canyon Nation­al Park will begin accept­ing faxed or mailed per­mits 10 days pri­or to the first of the month, and all appli­ca­tions deliv­ered by 5 p.m. on the first will be ran­dom­ly processed. Any remain­ing and late appli­ca­tions will be processed in a first-come, first-served basis.

Extra Tip
The Grand Canyon ranks 2nd on Nation­al Park vis­its per year, and many of those vis­its (includ­ing overnight per­mit vis­its) hap­pen between April-May & Sep­tem­ber-Octo­ber. If you apply out­side of this date range you will have a bet­ter chance of being suc­cess­ful. No mat­ter the sea­son you adven­ture into or around the Grand Canyon, be sure to famil­iar­ize your­self with Desert Hik­ing Tips before you go.


Camp­ing in Glac­i­er Nation­al Park, Montana

Glacier National ParkThere are 65 des­ig­nat­ed camp­sites in Glac­i­er’s back­coun­try, and despite the rugged abun­dance of this beau­ti­ful land, per­mits for those camp­sites do fill up quick­ly. Take a look at Glacier’s Back­coun­try Camp­ing Map to get an idea of the vari­ety of trips avail­able and to help with your trip planning.

How to Apply
New to 2015, Glac­i­er Nation­al Park has stepped into the 21st cen­tu­ry and now only takes reser­va­tions online. The reser­va­tion win­dow opens March 1st for larg­er groups (9–12 campers, max) and March 15th for small­er groups (1–8 campers). Expect the servers to be a bit busy the day of, these reser­va­tions are grant­ed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Yes, it’s eas­i­er than before, but it’s still one of the hard­est back­coun­try per­mits to get. Pay $10 to apply, $40 if you are accept­ed, plus an addi­tion­al $7/night camp­ing fee.

Walk-Up Per­mits
Walk-up per­mits are avail­able at Glac­i­er Nation­al Park, and half of all sites are reserved just for that pur­pose. But don’t let that sta­tis­tic lead you to believe your walk-up per­mit is a guar­an­tee. Long-dis­tance trav­el­ers may have reserved your camp­site long in advance, and it’s not uncom­mon to have to wait a cou­ple of days to get the trip you’re dream­ing of.


Overnight Camp­ing the Won­der­land Trail, Mt. Rainier Nation­al Park, Washington

Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainier National ParkThe Won­der­land Trail cir­cum­nav­i­gates the base of Mt. Rainier with a 90-mile loop (plus side trails) and con­tin­u­ous­ly chang­ing views of one of the PNW’s most icon­ic peaks. A com­plete hike around the Won­der­land typ­i­cal­ly takes around 10 days. And camp­ing is only allowed in the 21 des­ig­nat­ed camp­sites along the path, all of which fill up dur­ing the no-snow hik­ing sea­son (late July ‑Sep/Oct). This means plan­ning ahead is key to your success.

Obtain­ing a Walk-Up Permit
You can receive a walk-up per­mit the day of or day pri­or to your trip and no soon­er. Must be in per­son and at one of the des­ig­nat­ed ranger sta­tions to obtain a per­mit. Have your logis­tics in mind, and flex­i­bil­i­ty if you can afford it. That will strength­en your chances of get­ting a walk-up per­mit for the Won­der­land Trail.

In con­clu­sion, lay­ing your hands on one of the hard­est back­coun­try per­mits to get isn’t real­ly impos­si­ble, but you’ll have to be strate­gic, and you’ll most like­ly need to plan ahead. Do just that, and you’ll be so glad you did.

The speed record of the Nose on El Cap­i­tan is one of the most allur­ing and sought after records in all of climb­ing, even for a sport that isn’t inher­ent­ly com­pet­i­tive. For years the world’s best climbers have been trad­ing the record back in forth, with mere sec­onds sep­a­rat­ing the record at times. Watch as Brad Gob­right and Jim Reynolds top the time set by Alex Hon­nold and Hans Florine.


June 12th, 2011, Cody Elliot’s life as he knew it came to a very abrupt end. As a Marine Lance Cor­po­ral, he was serv­ing his duty as a machine gun squad leader when one of his fel­low Marines, a 21-year-old com­bat engi­neer, stepped on an Impro­vised Explo­sive Device (IED) out­side of San­gin, in South Cen­tral Afghanistan. Cody ran to help him, but his efforts were inter­rupt­ed when anoth­er IED erupt­ed in his path, tear­ing off his left leg and send­ing shrap­nel through­out the rest of his body. 

He’s now one of the few indi­vid­u­als who can hon­est­ly say they’ve died twice and lived to tell the sto­ry. He went into car­diac arrest mul­ti­ple times as the mede­vac team rushed him by air to a hos­pi­tal in Ger­many.  “When I woke up, my body was rid­dled with holes and miss­ing mus­cles and miss­ing bone. I was on the verge of a down­ward spi­ral of sui­cide and not hav­ing a way to live again. Going from being a leader in the mil­i­tary in com­bat straight to lit­er­al­ly hav­ing your legs tak­en out from under you. That real­ly messed with me,” says Cody.

To be pre­cise, Cody woke up miss­ing his left leg, part of his right calf, a fin­ger and sev­er­al bone frag­ments in the right side of his face. After months of rehab and attempts to find sal­va­tion, in every­thing from cross­fit to sky­div­ing, Cody fell into the world of climb­ing.  “It became my life sav­ings. It was the real­iza­tion that, ‘Wow, I can still do this.’ I can be effec­tive at it and I can lead peo­ple in this. To be able to look at oth­er amputees and say, ‘Hey, look at me,’ and take them up there so they can expe­ri­ence it for them­selves. To have them be blown away by what they can still do, that is my end goal,” says Cody.

“The best advice I ever got was from a bud­dy of mine after treat­ing my first com­bat casu­al­ty. He said, ‘What we do in this life for our­selves dies with us. But what we do for oth­ers is eter­nal.’” That’s been Cody’s mantra ever since. A true stoke spread­er, he seeks to help both oth­er amputee climbers and those who are able-bod­ied. These days he has his eyes on his own prize.

“El Cap is my goal. That is my moun­tain. I want to do it for myself. And to show peo­ple that no mat­ter what adver­si­ty you have, you can find a pas­sion and pur­sue it. You can find your own moun­tain. It does­n’t have to be El Cap. It does­n’t even have to be climb­ing. But If I can do El Cap to show oth­er peo­ple that they can do the impos­si­ble, then that’s my goal.”  He’s since con­quered The Nose, but has his sights set on Zodi­ac and The Shield, with plans of mak­ing it up every route he can. 

“I nev­er under­stood what rock climb­ing real­ly was or why peo­ple did it. But then it just sort of dawned on me. It’s like com­bat, you can’t just bail. You’re in it, no mat­ter what.” 

He’s spent the bet­ter part of the last few years trav­el­ing the coun­try in his van with his best friend Bruis­er, help­ing oth­ers, and work­ing out the kinks that come with mul­ti-pitch climb­ing as an amputee. “The hard­est thing for me is not real­ly the climb­ing and the height. I dig that, that’s why I do it. The amputee stuff is the real grit of it. I sweat so much, and I lose so much vol­ume up there that the seal on my [pros­thet­ic] leg breaks–that’s not good to hap­pen at 1,200 feet.” 

Cody’s team of doc­tors and pros­thetists are get­ting cre­ative to hope­ful­ly solve some of these issues. Every­thing is dum­my cord­ed so that even if his leg falls off it’s still attached to his har­ness, but what he real­ly needs is a leg that won’t dis­lodge from the sweat and swelling that comes with big wall missions. 

Cody with some of The Clymb team.

Despite his phys­i­cal hur­dles, he’s suc­cess­ful­ly made it to the top once and made sev­er­al oth­er attempts already. He’s learned some valu­able lessons along the way. With anoth­er year under his belt, he main­tains a healthy dose of opti­mism that the moun­tain hasn’t seen the end of him yet. He’s plan­ning anoth­er mis­sion up Zodi­ac and The Shield. 

Against all odds, his strength and enthu­si­asm for life shines through. “Life has a way of mak­ing one’s true char­ac­ter show. At some point we are all going to be test­ed. Whether we fail or not, we have the choice to sit down and do noth­ing, or climb the moun­tain and feel the breeze. I choose to feel the breeze.”

Until just a few weeks ago, Alex Hon­nold was arguably the best free soloist in the world. Hav­ing soloed mas­sive­ly com­plex projects such as Squamish’s Uni­ver­si­ty Wall and the North­west Face of Yosemite’s Half Dome. Now, hav­ing free soloed El Cap­i­tan, one of the most icon­ic rock faces in the entire world, the argu­ment has been laid to rest; Alex Hon­nold is the best free soloist in the world. Full stop. But this isn’t the first time that Hon­nold or oth­ers climbers have per­formed amaz­ing, bound­ary-push­ing feats, so why is this one bound­ary break­ing not only for the climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty but also for human beings as athletes?

The Climb Breakdown
To under­stand why this climb is unfath­omable, let’s break down what Hon­nold actu­al­ly did in both climb­ing and non-climb­ing terminology.

El Cap­i­tan is a big wall that is over 3,000ft high. Yes, 3,000 feet. That’s over a half mile of sus­tained, un-roped, climb­ing. The route he took is called Freerid­er and is rat­ed a 5.12d or 5.13 which, for the non-climbers out there, imag­ine a ver­ti­cal wall with vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing for the aver­age per­son to hold on to, wicked over­hangs, mas­sive cracks, and areas that appear to be com­plete­ly smooth to the touch.

Even more impres­sive­ly, he accom­plished this endeav­or in under 4 hours. For many elite climbers, El Cap takes a full day or two to climb due to the fact that climbers are typ­i­cal­ly haul­ing ropes, trad pieces, food, water, and oth­er gear.

They call him “Spi­der­man” for a rea­son. The skill and speed with which he climbed this icon­ic wall is both inspir­ing and insane.

This May Change the Way Climb­ing Big Walls is Perceived
Typ­i­cal­ly, climb­ing records are bro­ken into two cat­e­gories: first ascents and speed records. A first ascent, as the name implies, is award­ed to the per­son who first climbs the route. His­tor­i­cal­ly, first ascents are done with ropes for big wall climbs; how­ev­er, this could change with Hon­nold on the scene. Speed records are award­ed to those who climb the route in the least amount of time. For exam­ple, Hon­nold holds the speed record for climb­ing The Nose on El Cap.

Honnold’s free solo of El Cap isn’t a first ascent and it isn’t a speed record. It’s in a class entire­ly of its own. He climbed an unimag­in­ably dif­fi­cult rock face—without a rope. Often Ever­est ascents are bro­ken into two cat­e­gories: Those who climbed the moun­tain with sup­ple­men­tal oxy­gen and those who climbed the moun­tain with­out oxy­gen. The num­ber of peo­ple who elect to climb the tallest moun­tain in the world with­out oxy­gen is a mere hand­ful. It is gen­er­al­ly accept­ed in the moun­taineer­ing com­mu­ni­ty that con­quer­ing big moun­tains with­out oxy­gen is more dif­fi­cult and more risky.

Hon­nold’s free solo ups the ante in big wall climb­ing. You can either climb it with a rope or with­out. There doesn’t seem to be much ques­tion con­cern­ing which one is more chal­leng­ing or dan­ger­ous. As such, this climb may rev­o­lu­tion­ize how the climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty views first ascents and record set­ting all togeth­er. If peo­ple who climb Ever­est are seen by some as sec­ond-rate moun­taineers, then is it pos­si­ble that Honnold’s feat will cause some in the climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty, as well as spec­ta­tors, to see big wall rope climbers as sec­ond rate? It remains to be seen.

This Isn’t Just About Climbing
Ath­letes do amaz­ing things for their sport every day. Things that nor­mal, untrained, human beings can’t begin to attempt or achieve. But, unless you’re a huge base­ball fan, climb­ing buff, ski­ing afi­ciona­do, or foot­ball junkie, you might not hear about it when records are bro­ken or the sport it pushed to the next level.

Here’s why Honnold’s lat­est work of climb­ing art is dif­fer­ent: He was inch­es from death. And yet, he did some­thing grace­ful, skill­ful, and masterful.

Foot­ball play­ers get hurt and, yes, rarely they die from head injuries. Big moun­tain skiers assess avalanche risk before ski­ing a line. But, oth­er than BASE Jump­ing, there are rel­a­tive­ly no sports in which the ath­lete must per­form with per­fec­tion or death is imminent.

That’s what makes this spe­cial: It was per­fect, it was mas­ter­ful, and breaks through the lim­its of what ath­letes and human beings as a species are capa­ble of doing, not only with their bod­ies, but also with their minds.


Watch a short clip from the climb in a video shot by Jim­my Chin for an upcom­ing doc­u­men­tary by Nation­al Geographic.

 

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If you love the out­doors, you may fear los­ing access to pub­lic lands, or roll­backs in clean water and air pro­tec­tion. Amidst the entrenched par­ti­san bat­tles, it’s easy to for­get that con­ser­va­tion has often been a bipar­ti­san top­ic. Whether you love them or hate them, these politi­cians have at some point done some crit­i­cal work — often in unex­pect­ed ways — to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment. They come from both par­ties, and they may not be who you think.

Jimmy CarterJim­my Carter
With one stroke of his pen, Jim­my Carter final­ized pro­tect­ing wild places equal to the entire state of Cal­i­for­nia. On Decem­ber 2nd, 1980 as he was about to leave the White House, he signed the Alas­ka Nation­al Inter­est Lands Con­ser­va­tion Act, a sweep­ing con­ser­va­tion lega­cy that pro­tect­ed over 55 mil­lion acres. The names pre­served by ANILCA are now com­mon hall­marks of Alas­ka wild­ness: Misty Fjords, Admi­ral­ty Island, Wrangell-St. Elias, Kenai Fjords, Kat­mai, Gates of the Arc­tic and an expand­ed Denali Nation­al Park, to name a few. His push for renew­able ener­gy fore­saw cli­mate change and the via­bil­i­ty of solar, wind, and wave energy.

George H.W. BushGeorge H.W. Bush
The first eight years of the 1980s weren’t great for con­ser­va­tion. When Ronald Rea­gan left the White House and his Vice Pres­i­dent moved in, many expect­ed more of the same. But ear­ly in his term, Bush over­ruled his advi­sors and sup­port­ed a new­fan­gled mar­ket-based pol­i­cy tool to reduce acid rain. It was called “Cap-and-Trade”, and it’s a main­stay of cli­mate change poli­cies world­wide today. Bush used it to put the lid on sul­phur diox­ide emis­sions that were caus­ing acid rain. Bush also sup­port­ed the “no net loss” wet­lands pol­i­cy that led to the restora­tion of thou­sands of acres of wetlands.

Sherwood BoehlertSher­wood Boehlert
If you don’t hail from New York, you may nev­er have heard of Boehlert, a Repub­li­can Con­gress­man in Upstate New York from the 1980s until 2007. Dubbed the “Green Hor­net” for his com­bi­na­tion of envi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion and will­ing­ness to put a sting in the side of his own par­ty, Boehlert was a strong advo­cate for cli­mate sci­ence and for the aver­age fuel effi­cien­cy of cars. If you dri­ve a hybrid, he’s one of the rea­sons why. Since leav­ing Con­gress, he’s worked on ener­gy issues with a lit­tle known fel­low by the name of Al Gore.

Richard NixonRichard Nixon
Nixon is infa­mous (and right­ly so) for Water­gate. He’s usu­al­ly left off the list of envi­ron­men­tal champions—but it’s his sig­na­ture on four major pieces of envi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion: the Endan­gered Species Act, the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act, the Marine Mam­mal Pro­tec­tion Act, and the cre­ation of the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, which con­trols air and water pol­lu­tion. For his first head of the EPA, he appointed…

William RuckelshausWilliam Ruck­elshaus
Nixon’s first head of the EPA, Ruck­elshaus had a rep­u­ta­tion as a no-non­sense attor­ney. Start­ing from scratch, he built the EPA’s author­i­ty in an era when dead fish lined the shores of Lake Erie and the Cuya­hoga Riv­er had recent­ly caught fire. He insisted—correctly—that DDT posed a greater human can­cer risk than many experts thought, and insist­ed on ban­ning it. He became famous lat­er, as act­ing head of the FBI, for resign­ing as part of the “Sat­ur­day Night Mas­sacre” when he refused to fire the Water­gate Spe­cial Prosecutor.

Barack ObamaBarack Oba­ma
Obama’s lega­cy includes 22 new or enlarged Nation­al Mon­u­ments and pro­tect­ed 265 acres of land and water, includ­ing three Mon­u­ments that, along with adjoin­ing nation­al parks, make up one of the largest desert pre­serves in the world. One of his first pieces of leg­is­la­tion was the 2009 Omnibus Pub­lic Land Act, which set aside wilder­ness for the first time in decades. In an era of bit­ter divi­sions, the Pub­lic Lands Act passed the Sen­ate by a bipar­ti­san vote of 77–20.

Ron WydenRon Wyden
Camp­ing, hik­ing and play­ing out­side make up a $646 bil­lion indus­try that employs more Amer­i­cans than Apple. Wyden, a Sen­a­tor from Ore­gon, under­stands the eco­nom­ic engine of out­door recre­ation bet­ter than any politi­cian in Wash­ing­ton D.C. In 2016, Wyden intro­duced the Recre­ation Not Red Tape Act, which would stream­line per­mit­ting, increase pro­grams to main­tain trails and camp­grounds, get kids and vet­er­ans out­doors on pub­lic lands, and enlarge the Pub­lic Land Ser­vice Corps. Right now, it’s still just a bill sit­ting there on Capi­tol Hill, but maybe it will be a law some­day. Wyden is cur­rent­ly spear­head­ing efforts to keep the EPA’s pro­tec­tions on air and water strong.

Teddy RooseveltTed­dy Roosevelt
No list of this type would be com­plete with­out TR. The orig­i­na­tor of the “vig­or­ous life,” Roo­sevelt cre­at­ed the Nation­al Wildlife Sys­tem and the Nation­al For­est sys­tem, pro­tect­ed the Grand Canyon, enlarged Yosemite, and des­ig­nat­ed the first Nation­al Mon­u­ments. But he did far more than that. What oth­er Pres­i­dent went bear hunt­ing, ditched his entourage to camp with John Muir for three days in Yosemite, and explored rivers in the Ama­zon? TR made the rugged out­doors fun­da­men­tal­ly American.

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Root­ed in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, among aged sequoia trees and the tow­er­ing cliffs of El Cap­i­tan, Last­ing Adven­tures is born and bred in the wilder­ness of Yosemite. This non-prof­it is on a mis­sion to serve youth in the out­doors, pro­vid­ing back­pack­ing trips, day hikes, and out­door sum­mer camps.

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Founder Scott Gehrman devel­oped an appre­ci­a­tion for Yosemite Nation­al Park at a young age when his bond with the park helped him recov­er after los­ing his moth­er to can­cer. This pas­sion grew into an inevitable call­ing to com­bine both his love for the out­doors and for youth devel­op­ment in order to estab­lish Last­ing Adven­tures in 1997.

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Yosemite is much more than a Nation­al Park to Last­ing Adven­tures. It is an emblem of love, edu­ca­tion, and per­se­ver­ance. It is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show youth and the gen­er­al pub­lic the pos­i­tive impact the nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment and back­coun­try wilder­ness can have on humans.

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With an excep­tion­al staff, devot­ed exec­u­tive team, and strong mis­sion, Last­ing Adven­tures has served over 5,000 kids and pro­vid­ed 1,500 schol­ar­ships to dis­ad­van­taged youth, allow­ing them to gain valu­able skills and real life experiences.

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Last­ing Adven­tures’ mis­sion is to pro­vide pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to the gen­er­al pub­lic while also pro­vid­ing char­i­ta­ble assis­tance to oth­er­wise dis­ad­van­taged youth. The Clymb is proud to part­ner with such a force for good in the out­door space.

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Sup­port your adven­ture habit while sup­port­ing local providers.


For more infor­ma­tion about book­ing a trip with Last­ing Adven­tures, check out our Adven­tures page here.

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Nation­al Parks owe their his­to­ry to some key peo­ple and key moments. But what about places? Parks are, after all, spe­cif­ic places on earth. The Nation­al Park Ser­vice was found­ed more than 100 years ago. So let’s look back at a few patch­es of ground that have had an out­sized impact on the Nation­al Parks movement.

yosemiteA Nonex­is­tent Camp­fire Some­where in North­west­ern Wyoming
As myth has it, the idea of a nation­al park was born around a camp­fire by the first east­ern Amer­i­cans to explore Yel­low­stone: David Fol­som, Hen­ry Wash­burn, and Fer­di­nand Hay­den in 1869–71.

As the sto­ry goes, dis­cus­sions around the camp­fire led to that the area should be kept pub­lic and not be sold off to pri­vate indi­vid­u­als as much of the West was being home­stead­ed in the late 1800s. Sup­pos­ed­ly this led to the cre­ation of Yel­low­stone as the first nation­al park.

The sto­ry is almost cer­tain­ly false. In fact, Yel­low­stone wasn’t real­ly the first “nation­al park”. Abra­ham Lin­coln, inspired by Car­leton Watkins’ pho­tographs, had signed a bill back in 1864 that declared the Yosemite Val­ley inviolate.

But in 1876 park advo­cates latched on to the appeal­ing sto­ry of rugged explor­ers kick­ing ideas around a camp­fire and made polit­i­cal hay from it. The North­ern Pacif­ic Rail­road, seek­ing tourist des­ti­na­tions for their route through the west, sup­port­ed the Park. Through a tall tale retold, the Nation­al Park idea gath­ered steam.

©istockphoto/traveler1116 Glac­i­er Point, Yosemite
In 1903, Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt toured Yosemite. He told his entourage, wait­ing for him at the Wawona Hotel, that he would join them “short­ly”. The Pres­i­dent didn’t show up for three days; he had ditched them to go off camp­ing with a fel­low named John Muir.

The two slept beneath the giant trees in the Mari­posa Grove, hiked up Sen­tinel Dome, and woke up cov­ered in snow at Glac­i­er Point. It was prob­a­bly the most impor­tant camp­ing trip in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. The com­pa­ny of Muir and the land­scape of Yosemite sent Roosevelt’s already-strong con­ser­va­tion instinct into hyperdrive.

Muir’s imme­di­ate goal was renewed fed­er­al pro­tec­tion of Yosemite. He got that and more. Roo­sevelt cre­at­ed 5 oth­er nation­al parks, 18 nation­al mon­u­ments, four game pre­serves, 150 nation­al forests, and over 230 mil­lion acres of pub­lic lands.

©istockphoto/tobiasjo Mile 32.8, Col­orado Riv­er, Arizona
Mile 32.8 of the Col­orado Riv­er in the Grand Canyon is fair­ly innocu­ous. The last big rapid is eight miles back, and the next siz­able drop, Unkar Rapid, is forty miles down­riv­er. Boaters look for­ward to stop­ping at Red­wall Cav­ern and fill­ing up with fresh water at Vasey’s Par­adise, but it’s hard to miss the four big square holes up high on the wall.

They’re the test holes for the Mar­ble Canyon Dam, which was pro­posed and even sur­veyed. In 1963, the Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, hav­ing just closed the flood­gates on the Glen Canyon Dam upstream, pro­posed a 300-foot dam in Mar­ble Canyon that would have backed a reser­voir all the way up to the foot of Glen Canyon Dam. A sec­ond pro­posed dam in Bridge Canyon on the west end would have turned the leg­endary Col­orado Riv­er into a series of reservoirs.

As crazy as this sounds now, the 1950s and 60s were the era of big fed­er­al dam build­ing and the Sun Belt was grow­ing and thirsty. The fight over the Grand Canyon was a seri­ous one. It turned a riv­er rat into a sea­soned con­ser­va­tion­ist (Mar­tin Lit­ton) and a small region­al group of out­door activists into a nation­al force to be reck­oned with (the Sier­ra Club). Col­orado still flows like a riv­er through the Grand Canyon.

florida evergladesA Swamp in South Florida
A swamp near Mia­mi does­n’t seem like the per­fect place for a nation­al park; but when Con­gress autho­rized the cre­ation of Ever­glades Nation­al Park 1934, it was ground­break­ing even though they didn’t appro­pri­ate any mon­ey for the Ever­glades for anoth­er five years.

Ever­glades Nation­al Park was game-chang­ing in two ways. First, it was the first nation­al park in the East, where most Amer­i­cans lived at the time. The Ever­glades broke a pat­tern of parks being estab­lished almost exclu­sive­ly in the high moun­tains of the West.

And sec­ond, it was the first park to be pre­served not for its scenic beau­ty, but to pro­tect frag­ile ecosys­tems at risk from water draw­downs and agri­cul­ture. In the midst of the Great Depres­sion, plac­ing the eco­log­i­cal con­cerns of a bug­gy humid swamp at the top of any list was a coura­geous move. The Ever­glades was the first vic­to­ry for the new sci­ence of ecol­o­gy that would gath­er steam in the com­ing decades.

©istockphoto/tondaThe Mouth of the Lit­tle Col­orado Riv­er, Grand Canyon Nation­al Park
The les­son of Hetch Hetchy and the Grand Canyon Dam pro­pos­al is that nation­al parks still need defend­ers after they’re estab­lished. One of those places is the unde­ni­ably mag­i­cal blue waters of the Lit­tle Col­orado Riv­er where it meets Col­orado, a sacred site to many Nava­jo and Hopi.

The pro­posed “Grand Canyon Escalade” devel­op­ment would build a 1.4‑mile motor­ized tram to shut­tle up to 10,000 vis­i­tors a day to the bot­tom of the Grand Canyon and would fea­ture a hotel, restau­rant, RV cen­ter, and amphithe­ater. Forty years after the defeat of the Grand Canyon dam pro­pos­als and the expan­sion of the park, the Grand Canyon is still under threat.

©istockphoto/OGphoto 146 Acres in Zip Code 20004
It may be one of the small­er Nation­al Parks, but it’s the most impor­tant. The Capi­tol Mall in Wash­ing­ton D.C. is where Yosemite, Glac­i­er, Denali, and Canyon­lands were cre­at­ed. Parks are estab­lished, fund­ed, defund­ed, pro­tect­ed or pri­va­tized by the action (or inac­tion) of Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent. Far away as it may seem from the depths of a slot canyon in Zion or atop a pin­na­cle in the Tetons, the Capi­tol Mall is a place park advo­cates can’t afford to overlook.

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Ken Burns called the Nation­al Parks “America’s Best Idea.” They’re cer­tain­ly on the short list of Amer­i­can inno­va­tions. But the suc­cess sto­ry that’s been the Nation­al Park sys­tem owes it suc­cess to a series of small coin­ci­dences, acts of rebel­lion and things that seemed minor at the time. These ten moments have shaped the Nation­al Park sys­tem and will influ­ence our Parks in the next 100 years.

The Pho­tog­ra­ph­er and the President
In 1864, the Civ­il War was rag­ing. With the nation drown­ing in the blood of the bat­tles of Cold Har­bor, Spot­syl­va­nia and Wilder­ness, the beau­ty of a small moun­tain val­ley 3,000 miles away must have seemed insignif­i­cant to Abra­ham Lin­coln, who was expect­ed to lose the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 1864. But when an obscure, failed gold min­er-turned pho­tog­ra­ph­er showed up with a set of giant pho­tographs, the Pres­i­dent listened.

His name was Car­leton Watkins, and his 130 mam­moth plates were the first images east­ern­ers saw of Yosemite Val­ley. In the midst of a war, Lin­coln pro­posed mak­ing Yosemite invi­o­late. To build sup­port, Cal­i­for­nia Sen­a­tor John Con­ness (one of Yosemite’s high­est peaks now bears his name) walked the pho­tos around Con­gress per­son­al­ly. Twelve years before Yel­low­stone was declared an actu­al Nation­al Park, the con­cept was born.

“I So Declare It”
In 1903 Ted­dy Roo­sevelt asked an aide if there was any law that pre­vent­ed him from issu­ing an exec­u­tive order pro­tect­ing the birds of Pel­i­can Island from hunters. When the aide said he did­n’t think so, Roo­sevelt said sim­ply, “Very well. I so declare it.” The Nation­al Wildlife refuge sys­tem was born. Three years lat­er, a nation fret­ting about the “end of the fron­tier” passed the Antiq­ui­ties Act, which allowed the pres­i­dent to cre­ate nation­al mon­u­ments with the stroke of a pen.

TR need­ed no encour­age­ment. He imme­di­ate­ly declared Dev­ils’ Tow­er a nation­al mon­u­ment. Ever since, the Antiq­ui­ties Act has offered a con­ser­va­tion anti­dote to Con­gres­sion­al grid­lock. All but four sub­se­quent pres­i­dents have used it to pre­serve wild places. The her­itage of the Antiq­ui­ties Act includes Mount St. Helens, John Day Fos­sil Beds, New­ber­ry Crater, Paria-Ver­mil­lion Cliffs, Grand Stair­case-Escalante, Cas­cade-Siskiy­ou Nation­al Mon­u­ment and the San Juan Islands.

A Borax Baron Runs The Parks
By the ear­ly 1900s, the U.S. gov­ern­ment had acquired a chunk of nation­al parks, includ­ing icons like Yel­low­stone, Yosemite and Crater Lake, and a ran­dom smat­ter­ing of nation­al mon­u­ments and civ­il war bat­tle­fields. Most were man­aged by the army until the Nation­al Park Ser­vice was cre­at­ed in 1916. Woodrow Wilson’s choice to run the agency was a head-scratch­er: an inde­pen­dent­ly wealthy New York borax mag­nate named Stephen Math­er. But what a choice it was.

Math­er uni­fied the lands into a coher­ent agency, pro­fes­sion­al­ized the staff, aggres­sive­ly added new parks and made the Park Ser­vice once of the most respect­ed fed­er­al agen­cies. When Con­gress balked at the cost of adding the Mari­posa Grove of giant sequoias to Yosemite, Math­er bought it with his own cash on the spot. He wel­comed cars to the parks, a move that extend­ed their mass appeal beyond wealthy rail­road tourists and cre­at­ed a nation of sup­port­ers, but which also opened the parks to the risks of being “loved to death” decades lat­er. He led the Park Ser­vice until the stroke that led to his death 14 years later.

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John D. Rock­e­feller Jr. Gets Impatient
One of Mather’s deputy Horace Albright’s first pri­or­i­ties was to add the area around Jack­son Hole and the Grand Tetons to Yel­low­stone. When the bill died in the Sen­ate after ranch­ers fought back, Albright enlist­ed John D. Rock­e­feller Jr., who vis­it­ed the area incog­ni­to, to the cause. Rock­e­feller qui­et­ly bought up land with the inten­tion of donat­ing it to the park. But the con­flict over the Tetons raged bit­ter­ly for two decades and Math­er died in 1930. Rock­e­feller lost patience and broke the stale­mate. He wrote a let­ter to FDR say­ing that if the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment wouldn’t accept his land gift, he’d sim­ply sell it on the open mar­ket to any­one. He was almost cer­tain­ly bluff­ing, but his threat forced FDR’s hand. Also in the midst of a war, FDR des­ig­nat­ed Jack­son Hole Nation­al Mon­u­ment in 1943, and Grand Teton Nation­al Park took on the form it holds today sev­en years later.

War­ren Hard­ing Climbs the Nose
In 1958, War­ren Harding—the climber, not the President—spent an unheard-of 45 days cling­ing to the ver­ti­cal wall of El Cap­i­tan. He and Mark Pow­ell endured three storms 2,500 feet above ground on the first ascent of El Cap­i­tan by what is now known as “The Nose” route. Hard­ing, one of the most noto­ri­ous, hard-drink­ing, rebel­lious char­ac­ters of the Yosemite climb­ing scene, used Himalayan ideas to basi­cal­ly invent big-wall climb­ing, with por­taledges that allowed climbers to live on the wall for extend­ed peri­ods of time. In the 15 hours he and Pow­ell spent on the final por­tion, Yosemite gran­ite and Camp 4 became house­hold names. On his first ascent of The Wall of Ear­ly Morn­ing Light 12 years lat­er, a news crew would be wait­ing at the top.

A New Jer­sey Wait­er goes to Utah
In 1956, a wait­er from New Jer­sey got a job as a sum­mer ranger in Arch­es Nation­al Mon­u­ment. His name was Edward Abbey. He spent sum­mers on the slick­rock and returned to wait­ing tables in Hobo­ken in the win­ter. His notes even­tu­al­ly became Desert Soli­taire, a lyri­cal reflec­tion on the Utah desert that lured two gen­er­a­tions of explor­ers to explore the slick­rock canyon coun­try of the South­west (this writer was one of them). His fierce cri­tique of “indus­tri­al tourism,” led the Park Ser­vice to w rel­e­gat­ed him to a fire look­out. If they want­ed to silence Abbey, it was the worst move pos­si­ble: it gave him plen­ty of time to write. The Mon­key Wrench Gang, his most famous work, was writ­ten at Numa Look­out in Glac­i­er Nation­al Park.

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Crys­tal
Between Dec. 4 and 6, 1966, 14 inch­es of rain fell on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The water came down the slick­rock in tor­rents. A flash flood roared down Crys­tal Creek, dump­ing boul­ders into the Col­orado at mile 98, in the heart of the Upper Gran­ite Gorge. The debris fan con­strict­ed the riv­er to a quar­ter of its pre­vi­ous width, instant­ly cre­at­ing a new rapid. A mas­sive boul­der mid­stream cre­at­ed an enor­mous recir­cu­lat­ing hydraulic, now known as “the eater” and “the maw,” or just “the hole.” Crys­tal became the most feared rapid on the Col­orado overnight. Sim­ply nam­ing the sequence of rapids in the heart of the Grand Canyon—Horn Creek, Gran­ite, Her­mit and Crystal—will cause any boater to take a deep breath.

ANILCA
If some­one told you that a sin­gle bill could for­ev­er pre­serve nation­al parks, mon­u­ments and pre­serves equal to the entire state of Cal­i­for­nia, most peo­ple would say “it will nev­er hap­pen.” But it already has hap­pened. In 1980, Con­gress passed the Alas­ka Nation­al Inter­est Lands Con­ser­va­tion Act, the sin­gle bold­est stroke of con­ser­va­tion ever. It was bold­er still con­sid­er­ing the U.S. was only a few years removed from the OPEC oil embar­goes and Alaskan oil was in demand. ANILCA gave us house­hold names like Glac­i­er Bay, Kat­mai and Kenai Fjords, and an expand­ed Denali Park. We also got park­lands you might nev­er have heard of: Cape Kursen­stern, Ani­akchak, Kobuk Val­ley and Yukon-Charley. In oth­er words, with­out ANILCA, Alas­ka wouldn’t be Alaska.

Denali is Denali Again
On August 15, 2015, Barack Oba­ma ordered the Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or to make a sub­tle but telling sym­bol­ic move: renam­ing the high­est peak in North Amer­i­ca Denali instead of Mt. McKin­ley. The park itself was re-named Denali as park of ANILCA in 1980. Human habi­ta­tion in the region goes back 11,000 years before Pres­i­dent McKin­ley took office. One of the less savory aspects of the Nation­al Parks’ lega­cy is dis­place­ment of native peo­ples. When parks were estab­lished, most were already inhab­it­ed by Native Amer­i­cans who lost their homes in the process. Obama’s ges­ture is a step toward acknowl­edg­ing this his­to­ry. And Denali (“High One” in Athabaskan) is also a more fit­ting name for the continent’s high­est peak.

The Dawn Wall Goes Free
At 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2015, Tom­my Cald­well and Kevin Jorge­son topped out at the top of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. They were the first to free-climb the entire 3,000-foot face, rat­ed 5.14+, an endeav­or close­ly fol­lowed by social media. The free-climb­ing of the route first aid-climbed by Hard­ing and Dean Cald­well (no rela­tion) in 1970 brought big walls back to the climb­ing fore­front after three decade of focus­ing on short sport climbs and rock gyms.

Those are some moments that drove the first hun­dred years of our Nation­al Parks. What will the next cen­tu­ry bring?

Last year, Shel­don Neill and Col­in Dele­han­ty put togeth­er an amaz­ing edit of Yosemite Nation­al Park. We were blown away by the mes­mer­iz­ing time-lapse footage that trans­port­ed you to a world where nature pre­vails above all else, and is dic­tat­ed by noth­ing but the pas­sage of time. 

Once again, the duo has cre­at­ed a film so riv­et­ing and gor­geous in scope that its vision seems sur­re­al. Let Yosemite HD II take you even fur­ther into the depths of one of the most spec­tac­u­lar play­grounds on earth. 

Yosemite Nation­al Park is an out­doors lover’s par­adise. Best known for its mag­nif­i­cent water­falls, the park con­sists of over 1,200 square miles of untamed wilder­ness rife with giant sequoias, deep val­leys, soar­ing cliffs, and sprawl­ing meadows.

Watch this amaz­ing video that cap­tures the mag­ic of Yosemite and find out why she lures over 3.7 mil­lion peo­ple through her gates each sea­son. You’ll be blown away by the time-lapse footage fea­tured in this inspir­ing edit cap­tured by Shel­don Neill and Col­in Dele­han­ty as part of the duo’s long­stand­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive project, Project Yosemite.

We’re excit­ed about their upcom­ing film, Yosemite HD II

Yosemite Nation­al Park is breath­tak­ing. If you’ve been, you know. If you haven’t, you should. Cap­tur­ing its beau­ty in a sin­gle snap-shot is an impos­si­bil­i­ty, but put a cam­era into the hands of thir­ty film­mak­ers to spend a day in the Val­ley, and you’ll get a glimpse of what such grandeur can mean to so many peo­ple worldwide.

The first par­ty to climb The Nose in a day

 

In Yosemite Val­ley, No route is more icon­ic than The Nose. The first route to scale El Cap­i­tan, The Nose was first climbed in 1958 and took 47 days to com­plete.  Near­ly two decades after the first ascent was made, The Nose was climbed in just 24 hours.  At 2,900 ft. in height, The Nose still takes most par­ties sev­er­al days to reach it’s pinnacle.

Over the last decade, a hand­ful of elite climber’s have been rac­ing the clock, prac­ti­cal­ly run­ning up the steep faces of Yosemite Val­ley’s El Cap­i­tan. When the con­di­tions are per­fect, these elite few set off at a furi­ous pace, employ­ing speed climb­ing tac­tics in order to reach the top as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. The most cov­et­ed speed climb­ing accom­plish­ment in the val­ley is an ascent of The Nose, and these climber’s are reach­ing the top in mere hours.

The Great Roof; an icon­ic sec­tion of The Nose route

As of yes­ter­day, big wall speed climbers Alex Hon­nold and Hans Florine shat­tered the pre­vi­ous Nose In a Day (NIAD) record of 2:36:45, shav­ing almost 13 min­utes off of the pre­vi­ous time, in a mind-blow­ing 2:23:46. Who knows how much more quick­ly the NIAD can be climbed, but rest assured that a deter­mined few will con­tin­ue to try to push their lim­its in the ulti­mate test of rock climb­ing endurance. Click through to see a detailed pho­to­graph­ic report of the climb­ing teams amaz­ing accomplishment.

Every once in awhile, a star emerges from our respec­tive activ­i­ties of choice. Cycling has Lance Arm­strong, Bas­ket­ball has Michael Jor­dan, and Foot­ball has Pele. Right now, in the world of ver­ti­cal rock climb­ing, a hum­ble 27 year old named Alex Hon­nold is shak­ing the entire foun­da­tion of the sport. Once qui­et­ly doing his own thing, the enor­mi­ty of his feats has put him on front cov­ers of pop­u­lar mag­a­zines such as Nation­al Geographic.

On June 5 and 6, 2012 Hon­nold made the first ever solo link-up of Yosemite’s Mt Watkins, El Cap­i­tan, and Half Dome, climb­ing 90% free solo (with­out the pro­tec­tion of a rope) with a few points of aid. What that means is that Hon­nold is a stud. Doing a link-up means that not only did he climb more than 7,000 ft. of ver­ti­cal rock in total, he had to approach and descend each route as well. Even the best climbers can take mul­ti­ple days to accom­plish just one of these routes, and he fin­ished the solo triple in a mind-bog­gling 18 hours 50 minutes.

The video above cap­tures footage of Hon­nold’s ground break­ing achievement.

Den­im Vs. Softshell

Here in Port­land, we like cloth­ing that’s as func­tion­al as it is fash­ion­able. Enter  Thun­der­bolt Sports­wear, a home­grown, Ore­gon-based com­pa­ny that has been sell­ing its high-end soft­shell jeans since 2010 and per­fect­ing and devel­op­ing that con­cept since 2008.  These guys know the ins and outs of vari­able weath­er con­di­tions, and the result is a high-func­tion­ing, well-thought-out style piece that can dou­ble as an every­day pant.

Thun­der­bolt jeans are made with Schoeller Dryskin, which is import­ed from Switzer­land and con­sid­ered to be the best soft­shell fab­ric on the mar­ket today. The fab­ric is treat­ed with Nanos­phere, a durable water repel­lent (DWR). It does­n’t make the Thun­der­bolt jeans quite water­proof but will ensure that you stay much dri­er than if you were wear­ing den­im if caught out in the rain.

Sun­shine and every­thing in between

The first time that I put the jeans on I was sur­prised at how nice the cut was. Most soft­shell pants I’d used seemed square cut and suf­fered from a bag­gy crotch area, which result­ed in me feel­ing that I always had to be pulling my pants up—especially if I was hik­ing with a pack. Thun­der­bolt jeans fit snug­gly, like a tai­lored pair of dress pants. I was also sur­prised at how com­fort­able the brushed inte­ri­or felt against my legs. So far the Thun­der­bolts proved to be a good fit but I was eager to put them to the real test.

First, I made them my dai­ly rid­ing pants for the week. My bike com­mute is a lit­tle over six miles one way, so I was able to get a good sense of how the pants felt under the sad­dle. The week start­ed off with beau­ti­ful sun­ny skies and chilly temps that dete­ri­o­rat­ed to dri­ving rain by mid-week. In all con­di­tions, the jeans per­formed well, block­ing wind and rain, keep­ing my legs warm, but allow­ing mois­ture to move through the fab­ric and pre­vent­ing me from over­heat­ing as I warmed up. As an extra bonus, I was able to tran­si­tion direct­ly from the bike to the office with­out chang­ing clothes. Thun­der­bolts real­ly do look that good.

Look at that stretch!

Next on the agen­da was climb­ing in Cen­tral Ore­gon. Due to the dry, cold and usu­al­ly windy con­di­tions, boul­der­ing in the high desert dur­ing the win­ter months is per­fect for test­ing soft­shell fab­rics. The four-way stretch of the fab­ric and its abil­i­ty to block the wind made these pants the per­fect tool for the job. I will def­i­nite­ly be adding these pants to my climb­ing quiver and would even con­sid­er wear­ing them for larg­er alpine objec­tives. (Stay tuned for an El Cap report!)

Thun­der­bolt jeans can han­dle just about any­thing that you can throw at them. The only sit­u­a­tion that I encoun­tered where they might not be ide­al was com­mut­ing in the down­pour. There is def­i­nite­ly a chance that rain could seep in dur­ing an extend­ed ride in those con­di­tions. That being said, I still stayed warm, and the jeans dried almost instant­ly. When com­par­ing these jeans to the den­im alter­na­tive, and con­sid­er­ing an active, urban lifestyle, I have to say, they rock!