Top Ten Northern California Adventures

Climb Yosemite
By Michael Holden
Attention, climbers: Welcome to paradise

It's perhaps the most renowned climbing spot in the world: Yosemite's status as the ultimate rock-scaling destination is almost mythic. And El Capitan, the largest granite wall on earth, is a veritable Mecca, where accomplished climbers from all over the planet come to test their skill and endurance. True, spending the night suspended 1,500 feet off the ground is not everyone's idea of a good time, but then again, most climbers aren't out here for simple pleasures.

Even if El Cap isn't on your list of must-climbs, this vast playground of granite has plenty of other attractions. Of course, you won't be the only one climbing, but don't let the crowds deter you: There's always another facade to be found, another crack to discover.

Keep in mind that Yosemite caters mostly to traditional climbing; bolted routes are definitely in the minority. Many of the bolts are getting old, and the distances in between them can be frightening. Beginners should beware: The granite is smooth, offering little more than cracks and friction for purchase, and most of the faces are vertical. But for those with adequate skills, climbing to the rim of the valley—be it on El Cap, Half-Dome, or the more moderate Royal Arches—can be an unparalleled, exhilarating, and even mystical experience.

Trip Facts

Difficulty rating: Moderate to hardcore

When to go: May—September


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