I had a really great time in Yosemite Valley last weekend. It’s still a bit early in the season—which did us well in that it kept a lot of the crowds away. But while there was still snow on the ground, the temperature felt perfect hovering in the low 60’s during the day. And it was completely blue skies on Saturday.
I’ve taken a few trips to Yosemite by now, but I still find the valley completely breath-taking. I can’t help but glue my forehead to the window on the drive into the park. It’s no wonder that it holds such an immense role in the history of US national parks (as well as the history of climbing).
The first step towards the everlasting protection of Yosemite, as well as the first precedent of the preservation of land for public use, was in 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that created the Yosemite Grant.This paradigm allowed for the designation of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park in 1872. The renowned John Muir—explorer, naturalist, and activist—advocated for Yosemite to receive the same official recognition, which it did in 1890.
I think the establishment of these national parks was vital to the ethos of the west—the concept of wilderness and a boundless frontier. While these concepts are somewhat loaded, and have undoubtedly changed, I’m glad that we have pretty accessible places to go to today where we can at least pretend to be in the wild.
Saturday morning Matt, Brian, Anne and I headed to the Manure Pile Buttress. It’s not as unappealing as the name might lead you to believe—while it did once serve as the loading zone for horse dung, since 1965 when the route ‘After Six’ was put up by Yvon Chouinard and Ruth Schneider it’s become one of the more popular climbing destinations in the valley. Matt and I originally intended to do another route in this area called ‘The Nutcracker’, but we ended up climbing ‘After Six’ instead. It’s five pitches (or rope-lengths) of really fun, easy climbing that got us 600 feet up off of the valley floor. I had an excellent time while climbing, and enjoyed belaying from its scenic ledges as well.
We spent Sunday playing around on single-pitch climbs at the base of El Capitan. These routes didn’t take us as high, but it was fun to be able to look up at the rest of El Cap and all of its 3593-foot-high slick granite grandeur (I will admit to imaginations of how cool it would feel to be up there myself). We climbed ‘La Cosita, Left’ as well as ‘La Cosita, Right’ and the first pitch of ‘Sacherer Cracker’. It drizzled a little, which made the rock a bit slippery, but it was overall a fantastic day. After the four-hour drive back to Stanford I felt ready to go back to studying, but already excited for my next trip up off the valley floor.