Yosemite’s granite domes and cliffs create a unique landscape where rock-climbers from around the world are inspired to push their sport to new levels. Many of those climbers spend days ascending El Capitan, which rises more than 3,000 feet above the Valley.

The Ask a Climber program shares the story of climbing in Yosemite with thousands of visitors every year. During the summer months, visitors of all ages stop by the Ask a Climber station near El Capitan Meadow to peer through telescopes and watch climbers on the cliffs, get a close look at climbing equipment, and find answers to all of their climbing-related questions. Do people really sleep on rock walls? How long does it take to climb El Capitan? What tools do climbers use?

Since Conservancy donors first began supporting Ask a Climber activities in 2009, the program has helped thousands of people discover Yosemite’s vertical landscape. Ask a Climber rangers and interns share information about climbing techniques, geology, natural history and other topics, answer visitor questions, and provide real-time commentary as climbers work their way up El Capitan. In 2015, along with adding special activities for students, this Conservancy-funded program engaged nearly 25,000 visitors — the highest number since Ask a Climber began.

In addition to offering visitors an in-depth introduction to Yosemite’s climbing world, Ask a Climber rangers and interns educate the climbing community on issues such as Leave No Trace practices, safety and wildlife protection. Climbing rangers and interns serve as liaisons between climbers and the National Park Service, encouraging stewardship and engagement through volunteer events.

Kristin Kirschner

Wilderness Patrol Supervisor

Project Notes

Yosemite plays a significant role in the birth of big wall climbing and the development of climbing techniques, which have since spread worldwide. This collaborative effort tells the story of climbing in Yosemite through educational programs, outreach and interpretive materials.