Learn and Explore
Yosemite is one of the world's greatest climbing areas. Climbers here can enjoy an endless variety of challenges--from the sustained crack climbs of the Merced River Canyon to pinching crystals on sun-drenched Tuolumne Meadows domes to multi-day aid climbs on the big walls of the Valley. Yosemite is not just a climber's playground, however: its walls and crags are an integral part of a larger ecosystem, protected as Wilderness, which was set aside for people to enjoy in a natural state for generations to come.
As the number of climbers visiting the park has increased through the years, the impacts of climbing have become much more obvious. Some of those impacts include: soil compaction, erosion, and vegetation loss in parking areas, at the base of climbs, and on approach and descent trails, destruction of cliffside vegetation and lichen, disturbance of cliff-dwelling animals, litter, water pollution from improper human waste disposal, and the visual blight of chalk marks, pin scars, bolts, rappel slings, and fixed ropes. Many of these impacts can be eliminated or greatly reduced by following the minimum impact practices outlined in the conservation guidelines offered on this page. The impacts of your actions may seem insignificant, but when multiplied by the thousands of people who climb here every year they can have a significant, long lasting effect.
What You Can Do
More than 100 climbing accidents occur in Yosemite each year; of these, 15-25 parties require a rescue. Climbing in Yosemite has inherent risks and climbers assume complete responsibility for their own safety. The National Park Service does not maintain routes; loose rock and other hazards can exist on any route. Rescue is not a certainty. If you get into difficulties, be prepared to get yourself out of them. Know what to do in any emergency, including injuries, evacuations, unplanned bivouacs, or rapid changes in weather. Safety depends on having the right gear and the right attitude. Practice self-rescue techniques before you need them! Courtesy is an element of safety. Falling rock or gear is a serious hazard. Be careful when climbing above others. Do not create a dangerous situation by passing another party without their consent.
The Yosemite Medical Clinic, located between Yosemite Village and The Ahwahnee, is equipped to handle climbing injuries. If you cannot get to the clinic on your own, call or text 911 for assistance.
If you are injured or stranded while on a climb and cannot self-rescue, yell for help to obtain assistance. If you require a helicopter evacuation, do only and exactly what you are told by rescue personnel.
Wilderness climbing permits are required for overnight big wall climbs.
It is illegal to camp at the base of any wall in Yosemite Valley. If you must bivouac on the summit, you are required to follow all regulations:
Half Dome: Camping at the base of Half Dome is legal, but a wilderness permit is required. Camping on the summit of Half Dome is prohibited.
Yosemite Overnight Big Wall Climbing Wilderness Stewardship
In 2023, Yosemite National Park will transition from the Wilderness Climbing Permit Pilot Program (in place in 2021 and 2022) to a long-term solution to address wilderness stewardship through management of overnight climbing on Yosemite’s big walls and other rock formations.
Learn more about the Yosemite Overnight Big Wall Climbing Wilderness Stewardship Project.
Climbing Instruction and Guide Service
Contact Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service at 209/372-8344 for information on rates and schedules.
Last updated: August 26, 2022