Fact: Climbing is a popular sport. And it’s gotten even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. In places like Yosemite, the mecca of North American big wall climbing, that popularity has led to ever-increasing amounts of climbers on multi-day routes like those on El Cap or Half Dome. In response to those growing crowds, and the impact they have on the walls they climb (read: leaving poop and gear on routes) the National Park Service is testing out a new system requiring all overnight climbers to obtain a free wilderness climbing permit. The new system goes into effect on May 21, 2021. This does not affect climbers who are not spending the night on their climb. Permits will need a 4-15 day prior notice period for review. Wilderness permit systems like this are already in place on many big mountains around the West, like Mt. Rainier (Tahoma) and Mount Hood (Wy’East), to name a few.
There is much debate within the climbing community about the effectiveness of a permit system, with some saying it will stifle the spontaneous nature of climbing in the Valley and will be prone to mismanagement, and others pointing out that climbers have been unable to self-regulate their impact on the land.
Yosemite National Park says:
All visitors planning to overnight on any rock climbing routes in Yosemite National Park will be required to obtain an overnight wilderness climbing permit beginning on May 21, 2021. This pilot program is being implemented to better understand how park visitors use Yosemite’s big walls and to help improve climbing wilderness ethics and reduce negative human impacts associated with overnight big wall use.
Overnight climbing permits will be available beginning at 8 a.m. on May 14, 2021. For the duration of the pilot program, these permits will be free.
For more detailed information on climbing in Yosemite National Park, see link in bio.
This program will be a 2-year pilot.
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