Katja and I have been to Yosemite together once in 2012. Back then we didn’t understand what it means to climb long routes or big walls. Katja had just climbed for the first time in her life at the Red Rocks near Vegas. I had climbed at Smith Rock about four times.
After the first visit Yosemite became the goal for me. I was inspired by the beautiful surroundings which reminded me of home. Everything was just much bigger: the trees, the pine cones, the squirrels, and the rocks. Today other climbing venues have become just as inspiring to me but Yosemite is special because it was the first place that got me invested in trad climbing. After the trip I bought a set of nuts and biked to the Columns in Eugene to practice placing gear.
Back to 2016. The total cost for a two week Yosemite climbing trip for two ladies was about 2400 euros so 1200 euros each. We traveled from Tampere to Yosemite. We like living cheap but we also like good food.
Here is the break down in euros:
- flights Finnair HKI-SFO 450 per person
- ESTA 12 euros
- car rental 1000 euros (including gas and insurance)
- food 250 euros
- the National park pass 50 euros
- other travel expenses 200 euros (two nights in the Desmond hotel in San Francisco, taxi, Bart, train)
We both purchased the Gouda Super travel insurance for 160 euros. The insurance we have through the Vertikaali climbing club does not have enough coverage in the US.
Sleeping. We slept in a Lost Campers rental van. I highly recommend it. The only downside with sleeping in a van is you have to drive out from the park every night. Parking on pullouts in BLM land or Forest service land work unless there is a sign that prohibits camping.
Food. We planned dinners beforehand and bought groceries in the Bay area (mostly from Trader Joe’s). The grocery selection in the Valley is great but some items are expensive.
Milk. Have you found UHT milk or something that corresponds to it (and does not have high fructose corn syrup in it) in the US? If you have I would love to know. We used the powdered stuff.
Cooking. The equipment we needed was included in the van. We used my Jetboil for making breakfast. We ate out every day. 😉
Bears. Keep food and scented items (tootpaste, lotion) hidden during the day and in a bear box during the night. Save the bear.
Water and bathrooms. Are everywhere.
Gas. The closest gas is either in El Portal or right after the park entrace on 120. We spent almost two tanks in the Valley because we drove in and out every day. Fill up before entering the park if you are running low.
Red killer ants. Avoid trees and wear socks over your pants when rappelling. If you get attacked, strip all your clothing and ask your partner to help remove the ants.
Climbing topos. We had everything in our phones; the Yosemite Valley Free Climbs and the Mountain Project App. The Supertopo website has more up to date information.
Navigation and maps. For driving we used Google maps in offline mode and for the hiking we used the Gaia gps. Make sure you download the areas in a place that has good wifi. I put the tracking on if I was worried about hiking back in the dark.
Weather. The updated forecast is printed out in several places. There is a lot of options for wifi so it’s easy to check the weather on your phone too. The service is very spotty so you can’t count on your phone much.
Rope. The pitches are generally 40-60 meters long. We climbed with a single 60 meter which worked perfect. We had a 60 meter half rope as a back up for the routes which required two ropes to rappel. We could have had a 65 meter static pull cord too, but we ended up choosing the dynamic rope in case we needed a second lead line.
Rack. We usually had a double rack up to #3. We brought a #4 if the topo suggested to bring gear up to 3.5. Sometimes we brought triples in the sizes that the crux pitch asked for. The gear beta was from the Mountain Project and the Supertopo.
Alien cams. I understand now. The Totem ones.
Bailing and emergency. We brought bail biners and cord so we could back up wonky anchors. I backed up anchors with rusty bolts several times. Max took a 17 meter fall on Golden Gate (on the move pitch) because a bolt came out. Scary. I recommend visiting the National park service website about climbing in Yosemite. In case of an emergency call 911.
Rest days. We hung out and did absolutely nothing.
The climbing. Katja and I climbed mostly classics which in my opinion are all worth doing. My favorites were Super Slide and the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral rock. We did the climbs in this order. The sector is mentioned in the parenthesis. The routes are anywhere between 15 to 400 meters long.
Commitment 5.9 and Munginella 5.6 (Five Open Books)
After Seven 5.8 and Nutckracker 5.8 (Manure Pile Buttress).
Snake Dike Hike 5th class. We bailed at the base because of the potential storm. In the evening Katja climbed the first pitch of After Six 5.6 (Half Dome and Manure Pile Buttress)
Random 5.7 bolted slab. I bailed this one. We got eaten by mosquitoes and endured a lovely poison oak bushwhack. Great day. How about a rest day tomorrow? (at a random cliff next to the Cookie cliff)
Lemon 5.9-, Jamcrack 5.9, and Sunny Side Bench regular route 5.5 (Sunny Side Bench)
Super Slide 5.9 (KILLER ANTS!), bouldering at Camp 4, and top roping Generator crack (Royal Arches, Camp 4, the highway 140).
1/2 Reeds Leads 10b (KILLER ANTS, I BAIL. Really I bailed because I couldn’t find pro. Maybe I was not on Reads Leads?) Salathe 10c, and Sacherer Cracker 10a TR (El Capitan Base)
The East Buttress of the Middle Cathedral 5.9 A0. This was my favorite route. It had everything from a bolt ladder to chimneys. (The Middle Cathedral)