What is the United in Yosemite?
- United in Yosemite is a 6-day climbing gathering that offers opportunities for mentorship amongst climbers who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LBGTQIA2S+, women and genderqueer, or have disabilities. Our mission is to provide opportunities for mentorships amongst climbers from historically marginalized groups, empowering individuals to achieve their climbing goals, thrive amongst community, and develop as stewards the land.
- United in Yosemite aims to be active in the evolution of global climbing culture through the lenses of representation, tribal engagement, stewardship, and celebration.
- Unite: to join together for a common purpose.
- United in Yosemite is a gathering of community for collective healing, restoration, and empowerment that strives to be part of the evolution in global climbing culture. Our shared love of climbing brings us together to build strength and resilience beyond the crag.
Who is organizing United in Yosemite?
- This is a project of Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Conservancy, and the American Alpine Club. The realization of this project is a collaboration with input from (in no particular order) Yosemite Mountaineering School, Brown Girls Climb, Queer Crush Climbing, ParaCliffHangers, and support from Climbing 4 Change. As far as we know, this is the first time an NPS unit has collaborated on this scale with multiple partners to produce a specific climbing affinity group event. This is a grassroots effort led by employees with a diverse set of lived experiences and many years of DEIA organizing and facilitation. This is an environmental justice issue, and a time for NPS to uphold its value of providing access to all peoples. We want to invite our communities in, and pull back the curtain a bit on the how and why of 21st century stewardship and conservation efforts.
- We don’t anticipate we will get everything right. However, we are committed to mitigating foreseeable challenges, and to taking feedback and incorporating our learnings into this year, and the years to come.
What are the dates?
- June 23-28, 2023. Clinics, meet-ups, stewardship projects, and speakers will take place Friday-Sunday. Camping will remain available until Wednesday, 6/28. There will be optional activities available Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday including education, workshops, and more.
Where will this gathering take place?
- Camping is in the Yellow Pines volunteer campground in Yosemite Valley. Clinics, meet-ups, stewardship projects, and speakers will take place in the Valley. You are welcome to go climb anywhere in the park!
Is this event for me?
- Are you an individual with a historically marginalized identity, or multiple marginalized identities?
- Are you interested in giving some of your energy back to the places you climb?
- Are you fighting for outdoor equity for yourself or in your community?
- Are you looking to learn about outdoor rock climbing, or gain skills to help you access more complex climbing goals?
- Are you willing to be in a space with a diverse group of people, willing to listen and learn from their experiences, willing to be seen, and willing to show up for a transformation in climbing culture?
- If YES, then this is for you!
What does registration include and require?
- 5 nights of camping, clinic registration, workshops, stewardship projects and raffle tickets! Link to registration will be posted March 24th, and registration will be open from March 24th-April 7th.
- Since we anticipate more than 100 people will want to register, after April 7th we will run a lottery to select attendees.
How much does it cost to attend United in Yosemite?
- There is no cost to register for United in Yosemite. The main cost to participants will be covering transportation and food.
How do I apply for a stipend?
- Stipends are intended for individuals with financial need, and will be allocated through an application process. Applications for stipends will become available to participants selected by the lottery after April 7th. Applications will be reviewed by United in Yosemite staff and community partners, are $100 per person, and will be delivered before the event to assist with travel and other associated costs. Stipends are non-transferable.
I’m a knowledgeable Yosemite climber from a marginalized background, am I invited?
- We are looking for community members to serve as campground hosts and community support throughout the weekend. If you are interested, please send an email to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.
I don’t identify as historically marginalized, can I still attend?
- Camping and clinics are reserved for registered participants. Evening programs will be held in the Valley Auditorium, and open to the public.
- How can an “inclusive” climbing festival not be for literally everyone?!
- There are a number of factors that lend to this.
- As a first-year festival, with a limited number of campsites, this event will be most successful if it is designed with a specific group of people in mind. While we aim to serve as many folks as we can, it is not possible to serve literally everyone.
- Affinity spaces are important in creating opportunities for individuals from historically marginalized groups to feel safer, seen, and grow with their peers. Every individual has had their own journey, some with more challenge, some with more privilege. Organizations, including the AMGA, consider diversity and inclusion to be a risk management issue. One way that folks can show support for increasing access to recreational opportunities and climbing is by making space for these affinity groups to form, take up some space, and connect with one another and the land in their own time. Take a moment with this article from the AMGA website for a deeper perspective.
- There are a number of factors that lend to this.
Do I have to be an experienced rock climber to attend this festival?
- You do not have to be an expert! Some experience rock climbing will be helpful, but clinics are designed for folks looking to learn about climbing outdoors, traditional rock climbing, or multi-pitch and bigwall basics.
- For some fun climbing safety content, visit the Yosemite Conservancy Climbing Hub to learn more.
What clinics will be offered?
- Yosemite Mountaineering School is the official guide partner of United in Yosemite. Clinics will be led by YMS guides and distinguished climbers with lived experiences in non-dominant identities.
- Our clinic schedule is still developing, so stay tuned. Topics could include: Intro to Trad, Self-Rescue, Multi-Pitch Efficiency, Big Wall Basics, Crack Climbing 101, Bouldering Clinics. Most clinics will have a maximum number of 12 participants.
- If you are registered but don’t want to attend a clinic, there will be affinity group meet-ups that you are welcome to attend as well!
Do I have to register to attend a clinic?
- Yes, clinics are reserved for registered participants.
Do I have to do a service project to attend?
- Stewardship projects are optional. Many individuals from non-dominant identities have spent much of their time and labor in contexts that were underpaid, overworked, and undernourishing. We do not offer stewardship projects with the expectation of garnering labor from individuals who are new to the space. Instead, we offer these service projects as a meaningful way of giving back if we have the capacity. Outdoor recreation and climbing can be seen as extractive – taking from land and original occupants without returning anything. We want to explore what does it look like to be a climber who tries to build a reciprocal relationship with land and original inhabitants.
- Please see “Stewardship” on the About Us page to learn more about why stewardship projects are a part of this event.
- There will be stewardship projects offered at different levels of strenuousness and accessibility. Possible projects include:
- Litter pick-up (Light – walking, using a trash grabber.)
- Native seed cleaning (Lightly strenuous – seated, wheelchair accessible.)
- Native seed collection (Lightly strenuous – walking, stooping, bending, kneeling. Could be moderate depending on heat.)
- Introduced plant removal (Medium strenuous – digging, kneeling.)
- Climbing trails access (Most strenuous – could involve digging, moving heavy objects)
Is this event open to children?
- We do not have the capacity to offer childcare at this time. The 100 person capacity at Yellow Pines includes children. All individuals at Yellow Pines must be registered participants and volunteers. Additionally, most stewardship projects have a minimum age of 16.
- If you are the guardian of a young climber who wants to attend, send an email to [email protected].
Accommodations and Services
What will the camping be like?
- Camping will be at the Yellow Pines campground (detailed info to follow). It is tent camping, with no electric or water hook ups available. Yellow Pines is divided into 6 sites of different sizes, and participants will be assigned to a particular site. We will encourage folks to share tents with a friend if they are comfortable, as there is not an infinite amount of room in the campground. There is no running water on site, but potable water is available from a 500-gallon water buffalo (a big ol’ tank). There are no showers on site, but showers are available at Camp 4, Curry Village, and Housekeeping Camp. Each campsite has a firepit, picnic table, and bear lockers.
Can I bring my van?
- Yellow Pines can accommodate a maximum of 60 vehicles. Because of space, and the carbon cost of cars, we will encourage folks to carpool as much as possible.
What’s the deal with showers?
- Shower pass can be purchased at Curry Village or Housekeeping Camp. Showers are ADA compliant.
What’s the best way to get around the Valley?
- The free Yosemite Valley shuttle system operates with service around Yosemite Valley. The shuttle bus is wheelchair accessible. For more information, and a map of the shuttle stops, visit this page.
- The shuttle bus does not stop at Yellow Pines campground – the nearest shuttle stop is a half mile east on a dirt path at the Four Mile Trailhead. Users could also drive to Curry Village, park there for the day, and take the shuttle bus from there.
- Especially on a weekend in the summer, driving and finding parking can be stressful. If you can bring a bike + helmet, do it! Yosemite Conservancy has a free bike share. There is not a bike lane for the entirety of the Valley loop road, but there is a bike path from Camp 4 to the Valley Visitor Center to Curry Village.
How will access needs be taken into account during the festival?
- 8 tickets will be reserved for folks with disabilities. Additional companion spots will be available for disabled attendees who would benefit from that assistance. For full details on accessibility in Yosemite National Park, please reference the Yosemite National Park Accessibility Guide.
- We are looking into a small number of ADA compliant cabins to be reserved at Curry Village – if camping in the style explained above in the “What will the camping be like” section is not a feasible option for you, email [email protected] to be kept in the loop if these cabins become available.
Will programming during the festival be accessible?
- Evening programs will be held at the Auditorium. There is accessible parking near the Visitors Center + Auditorium. The accessible parking is approximately .09 miles from the Auditorium, with a gain of about 16ft. The auditorium is accessible via ramp to the left of the Visitors Center. Seating in the Auditorium is movable chairs, and we will reserve a section near the front for mobility devices and companions.
- ASL interpretation will be coordinated for this event. If you are in need of these services, please contact the Deaf Services coordinator at [email protected] to ensure your needs are met.
- For information on stewardship projects and accessibility, see “Stewardship projects” above.
Is the campground accessible?
- Yellow Pines campground is a flat dirt campground. There are no specific tent pads, but sites C and E are flat and accessible via wheelchair. One of these two sites will be reserved for climbers with disabilities and their companions. The closest pit toilets are located about 250 yards from the tent sites. They are equipped with ADA compliant 32-inch door width, 60-inch minimum diameter turning circle, and grab bars located by the toilet. There is an even dirt ramp up to the door. Wheelchair accessible showers are not available on site but are available at Camp 4 or Curry Village. We are working to try and provide access to a few accessible cabins at Curry Village, and access to ADA showers for participants.
Will there be clinics about adaptive climbing?
- We are partnering with ParaCliffHangers and the Yosemite Mountaineering School to provide a Gym-To-Crag clinic with accessibility accommodations! PCH is a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for people with disabilities to overcome mountains and have a ton of organizational and lived experience in climbing access.
- The clinic is tentatively set to be at the Swan Slab crag near Camp 4. Swan Slab is accessible via a flat dirt path, and the area around the base of the crag is flat dirt with some shade trees. This clinic will be open to anyone who is transitioning from gym climbing to outdoor climbing, whether they identify as a climber with a disability or not. We will work with individuals before, during, and after registration to accommodate their specific situation.
- Additionally, we will post more accessibility information for each clinic as the schedule becomes available. We will work with individuals to accommodate their needs as much as we can.
What services are available in Yosemite Valley?
- Food: there are a number of food options in Yosemite Valley, from a store to coffee shop to high end dining. All are operated by Yosemite Hospitality. For a full list and descriptions, visit this page.
- Gas: there is no gas available in Yosemite Valley. The nearest gas station is in El Portal, on Hwy 140 outside of Yosemite Valley. There is also gas at Crane Flat (inside the park on Hwy 120), and outside the park in Oakhurst (Hwy 41) and Groveland (Hwy 120).
- Electric Vehicle charging: there are EV charging stations in Yosemite Valley and in El Portal.
- Yosemite Valley:
- The Ahwahnee: one Tesla, one level 1
- Village store: one level 2
- Yosemite Lodge: eight level 2
- El Portal
- El Portal Market and Gas: two level 2
- Yosemite Valley:
How do I get to Yosemite Valley?
- Flying: the closest airport is Fresno (FAT) (2 hours driving). San Francisco area airports (San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco) are a 3.5-4 hour drive. Sacramento airport is an approximately 4 hour drive. Cars can be rented at all of these locations.
- Driving: Detailed driving information available here.
- Public Transportation: Amtrak provides service to Yosemite Valley, via train to Merced, and the YARTS bus from Merced to the Valley. Greyhound also operates to Merced, where you can transfer to the YARTS bus. YARTS routes and schedules available
Is there phone and internet service in Yosemite Valley?
- Phone service is available in Yosemite Valley, but it is not always consistent! Expect to receive texts, phone calls, and have trouble sending photos or GIFs.
- WiFi is available at Degnan’s Deli, but has limited bandwidth. Streaming videos might not be successful.
- Enjoy some time away from your screen!
W’s: Weather and Wildlife
Is this event rain or shine?
- It sure is! United in Yosemite will take place regardless of weather, though rain, excess heat, or smoke could change programming.
- Yosemite is an evolving landscape where the weather is a reality of our every day lives. Be prepared for changing weather, inclement weather, and be open to things changing due to weather conditions!
- As of late January, 2023, the snowpack is over 100% of average, which is great! However, it is possible that if the Sierras receive more snow, it could lead to late-season run-off, which could potentially affect the campground. We won’t know anything until April at the earliest – so stay tuned. We have multiple camping back-up plans if necessary, and will re-assess later in the spring.
What will the weather be like?
- In Yosemite Valley, daily highs in June can range from 70 F to the low 80s, with lows in the 50s. Weather forecast for the park is available Yosemite Valley is at an elevation of 4000ft, and can feel arid. Be prepared to drink a lot of water, eat salty snacks, wear some sunscreen, and probably jump in the river if you find a safe spot.
Am I going to see a bear?
- Yosemite National Park is home to about 500 black bears. They can appear brown, cinnamon, honey, tan, and even black. The American black bear is curious, intelligent, and loves snacks. Their favorite snacks are grubs, berries, and roots – but their keen sense of smell leads them to human food. It is our responsibility as their neighbors to not allow them to get food, or other scented products. A bear that has gotten human food can become aggressive in their hunt for calories, which can lead to their relocation or their unnecessary death.
- In the campground, there will be bear boxes where all scented items must be stored if they are not being used. If it goes in or on your body, it goes in the bear box. This includes food, bottles, drinks, cosmetics, soap, and ice chests (even if there’s no food in it!), and unwashed items used to prepare or eat food.
- For more information, visit the Yosemite bear safety Help keep bears wild!
What do I do if I see a bear?
- If a bear is approaching you in a developed area, get big! Scare them away with aggressive behavior and yelling. It can feel aggressive, but helping them maintain a healthy distrust of humans can increase their health and lifespan.
- If you see a bear from far away (>150ft), admire them, but don’t approach them.
- For more information, visit Yosemite “What To Do If I See A Bear.”
What to Bring!
Do I have to have my own climbing gear?
- Clinic gear (ropes, harnesses, helmets, etc.) will be provided.
- Bring your own gear if you want to go climb on your own.
What should I bring with me?!
- Tent, sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping pad
- Cooler, stove, items for cooking
- Food (breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner if you stay past Sunday)
- Reusable mess kit (plate, bowl, cup, utensils, etc.)
- Reusable water bottle and bladder.
- Personal gear
- Clothes for all weather.
- Personal toiletries.
- Sunscreen, bug spray, hand soap (but please don’t put any of this into the river!)
- Climbing gear.
- First Aid Kit if going climbing alone.
- Any medications
- Wallet with ID, extra cash, etc.
- Backpack to hold your stuff.
- Headlamp, flashlight, or lantern.
- Bike, bike helmet, bike lights
- Items for chilling: art supplies, books, games, hammocks.
- A plan B if the weather shifts and you decide to go hiking.
- Prepare for no internet by downloading podcasts, songs, work or homework, books, etc., before traveling to Yosemite.
How is this a sustainable event?
- People can generate up to 50% more trash when traveling in small ways – extra granola bars, a cup of coffee, to-go food containers. We aim to be a zero-waste event (diverting at least 90% of waste from landfills), but part of that is up to each of us planning ahead and preparing to decrease our own footprint. We will have an organic waste dumpster in the campground, along with recycling and trash. We can reduce our impact by bringing reusable items whenever possible, and being mindful of the waste generated by food wrappers, gear, etc.
- Opt for online information, rather than on paper.
- Yosemite National Park offers useful maps, services, and other tools to visitors through an app available on iOS (as NPS Yosemite National Park) and Android (as NPS Yosemite). Select “Download Offline Content” in the Settings icon and you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips.
- National Park Service offers a free app on iOS and Android. This app provides information for more than 400 national parks. Once you’ve chosen Yosemite as your park, become prepared by looking at park maps, tours, and other visitor informational tools.
RULES and REGS
Can I bring my pet?
- Pets are allowed in most campgrounds, but not Yellow Pines. Additionally, they can be a hazard and a distraction at crags. For these reasons, we ask you to please leave your pet at home (but please show us pictures of your cute dog).
- For more information, visit the Yosemite National Park Pet Guidelines page .
- Yosemite Hospitality operates a Dog Kennel in Yosemite Valley. In 2022 the kennel was closed for rehabilitation. We will post an update to the availability of the kennel when we know more.
What about my service animal?
- Service animals (dogs and miniature horses) are animals who have been trained to perform a specific task related to a physical or neurological disability. They are allowed wherever a person can go and will of course be welcome at Yellow Pines campground. They must be under control (leash 6ft or less or verbal command) at all times.
- For more information, visit the National Park Service page on service animals.
- Under Department of Justice guidelines, emotional support, therapy animals, or companion animals are not considered service animals and are subject to the same regulations as pets (Yosemite National Park Pet Guidelines page). Additionally, service animals in training are not considered service animals under ADA and are subject to same regulations as pets.