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Controversial Yosemite Rules Here to Stay

Climbers must register for a free wilderness climbing permit before heading up a wall

A big-wall rock climbing management plan that was tested over the last two years in Yosemite National Park will now be the law of the land. Yosemite Superintendent Cicely Muldoon formaled the park’s new wilderness climbing permit program, which will regulate overnight climbs on Half Dome, El Capitan and other peaks.

Climbers must obtain special permits before beginning their climb, and there are no quotas. The system is meant to keep Yosemite rangers informed as to where climbers are, to encourage climbers to remove their fixed ropes and to carry out their waste. Almost 3,500 climbers got permits during the two year pilot program.

“We want to continue to provide access for climbers in a way that hopefully won’t change their ability to have unconfined access to the wilderness area,” program supervisor Jesse McGahey said. “But there’s a range of impacts, and we realised we need to be able to contact all the climbers to make sure everybody understands the leave-no-trace climbing ethics — and that they’re backed by regulations.”

The permits are free and available when you arrive at a kiosk. Not all climbers are for the new system as they fear it could lead to more regulations. “I’m not totally in love with this program, but I’m willing to go along with it and get permits,” said Tommy Caldwell. “I generally support the park and what they think is best … but I worry that, now that it’s in place, there will be changes that make climbing incrementally harder in the future.” For more info on the permit visit here.