Project goal: Help visitors connect with the vertical wilderness through a program that explores rock-climbing, natural history and environmental stewardship. 

Why this work matters: Yosemite Valley’s stately cliffs, domes and columns command attention and stoke wonder. Some people see the walls up close, stepping off the Valley floor and into the Yosemite Wilderness to scale famous features, such as El Capitan. Most people take in the size and power of the rock from below, occasionally spotting ant-sized adventurers inching up the gleaming granite.

A Yosemite climbing ranger using a portaledge on a rock wall in the park This is a screenshot from a "Behind the Scenes" video that Yosemite National Park posted in June 2020.

A Yosemite climbing ranger offers “behind-the-scenes” insights from high on a park wall as part of a video produced in June 2020. (Courtesy of NPS)

Park managers view education as a powerful tool for protecting Yosemite’s resources, including the vertical wilderness. Through the Ask a Climber program, climbing rangers coordinate educational activities that connect people with the world on the walls.

How your support helps: The Ask a Climber program usually includes guided walks and hands-on activities in El Capitan Meadow. In 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Yosemite’s climbing rangers canceled formal in-person programming, and instead focused on creating engaging educational resources, such as videos recorded on the park’s big walls.

Climbing rangers also patrolled climbing areas in Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, and talked to visitors about climbing, climbing history, and climbing stewardship. By supporting the Ask a Climber program this year, helped rangers adapt a popular program that helps people connect with Yosemite’s renowned climbing areas and promotes stewardship within the climbing community.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Climbing Association.

Jesse McGahey

Lead Climbing Ranger, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"The Yosemite Ask-a-Climber Program brings visitors, park rangers and rock climbers together to celebrate how over a century of exploration of Yosemite's vertical wilderness has made the seemingly impossible become reality."