Vertical Wilderness

Are you aware that you are often within a wilderness area while climbing in Yosemite?  

All cliffs above 4,200 feet elevation are a part of the 95 percent of Yosemite designated as wilderness.  From El Capitan to Church Bowl and Manure Pile, climbing in Yosemite is predominately within wilderness areas.   As outlined in the Wilderness Act of 1964,

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”  

What does this mean?

Interacting with wilderness provides great opportunity.  We visit a world protected from human domination, we adventure through vertical expanses of rock untrammeled, and we gain access to lessons available only in such environments.  However, wilderness is a fragile entity.  Deliberate action must always be made to preserve the wilderness that we as a people have historically treasured.  

What can climbers do to protect Yosemite’s wilderness areas?

Climbing is an activity with inherent impact on our environment.  As our numbers increase this is only becoming more severe.  Our ethic is to leave as little sign of our passage through these wilderness areas as possible.  By doing so we honor the many who will come after us, we honor what drew us to these areas in the first place, and we honor the wilderness itself.  

Be mindful of these concepts when climbing in Yosemite’s Wilderness:  

  • Store your food properly so as not to encourage wildlife towards an unnatural and unhealthy diet.  Allow wildlife to remain wild.
  • Manage your waste so as not to trash and disrespect our natural places.
  • Whenever you consider fixing lines or placing permanent anchors, practice respect for the resource and for the wilderness experience of others.
  • Follow wilderness regulations regarding camping in Yosemite’s backcountry while pursuing climbing objectives.
  • Avoid “gardening” to establish new routes or boulder problems. Cliffs and their talus are unique and limited habitats.
  • Educate yourself and other climbers on closures to protect wildlife.
  • Limit your group size and follow designated trails.  Approach and descent trails are being managed for popular climbing areas in Yosemite.
  • The ideal is to always leave minimum sign of our passage through wilderness.

Be a steward for these wild lands.

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