Project goal: Help visitors connect with the vertical wilderness from the ground, through an interactive 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.

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 interactive educational activities that connect people on the ground with the world on the walls.

In spring, late summer and early autumn, rangers set up telescopes and educational displays at El Capitan Meadow, where they can engage with people gathered to gaze at El Capitan — an increasingly popular activity since the release of “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall” — and share safety and stewardship tips with climbers. In July and August, when the climbing season slows, rangers lead weekly interpretive walks. They also extend the program’s reach by delivering presentations at campgrounds and to visiting NatureBridge students, and by engaging climbers as volunteers in restoration projects. 

How your support helps: By supporting the Ask a Climber program, you’ll enable the park to offer a popular seasonal program that helps people connect with Yosemite’s renowned climbing areas and promotes stewardship within the climbing community. With your support, rangers will answer visitors’ climbing-related questions, help people zoom in on El Capitan, offer gear demonstrations, share insights into the geology and ecology of the vertical wild, and illuminate the role climbers play in protecting nature on and off the walls.

Partnering with 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."