Yosemite is a world-renowned rock-climbing destination, with approximately 150,000 climbers coming each year to test their skills on famed granite monoliths, such as El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks.

Despite climbing’s growing popularity, many parts of the park have little in the way of established approach or descent trails, leaving climbers to use the path of “least resistance” to get to their destinations. This results in an informal network of severely eroded trails and the unintentional destruction of surrounding vegetation and habitat.

This project brought together climbing organizations, local youth groups and park partners to construct clearly delineated climber-access trails and restore surrounding habitat. Young volunteers included Yosemite Climber Steward Interns, who act as ambassadors to the climbing community and encourage proactive stewardship. In 2015, crews and volunteers removed 12,270 feet of informal trails, constructed stone walls and steps to improve access to popular climbing areas, restored natural drainage to help prevent future erosion, and collected visitor use data to gain even more insight into how climbers are accessing different routes. 

Your support in 2015 helped create safe, more sustainable access trails for climbers, protect fragile habitat and provide life-changing opportunities for youth volunteers and interns.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park, Sacred Rok, and professional climber/educator Ron Kauk.

Kristin Kirschner

Wilderness Patrol Supervisor

Project Notes

Historically, Yosemite did not establish official climber-access trails, so climbers established their own trails. After decades of intensive use, this informal network of trails has become severely eroded. Access areas are denuded with multiple overlapping trails, loose footing, and damaged vegetation. The project prioritizes areas in need of restoration and uses park volunteers to create a sustainable system of climber access routes.