Living as a foreign dirtbag in yosemite


Original Post
that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

I'm 19 i'm from the UK and would like to go to yosemite in a year or so, do some big wall climbing and free climb a some classics. Here's the catch, I want to go for 6 months i have worked out the basics as far as money go the only issues i seem to be having is how i can dirtbag it as a foreign climber, the obvious option would be to buy a cheap van while over there and live in that though you need a address to register the car, the only other option i could see would be to live illegally inside the park (obvious issues with this). Any body know how i could go about dirt bagging in yosemite as a foreigner for 6 months legally?

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 190

Don't forget you'll need auto insurance too.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
Michael C wrote:Don't forget you'll need auto insurance too.
Depends on what state the vehicle is registered in. Not sure how you register anyplace without an established residency.
Loganator · · blue van, on the highway to no · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 230

What time period? I can't think of a 6 month period that I would want to stay there. The summers are very warm, and the winters can be very cold. the fall and spring are best. Toulumne is great in the summer of course, so you could go up there a bunch. But with the camping restrictions, the only way to dirtbag in the valley is by sleeping under a rock! The nearest towns are all kinda far to drive in everyday, and I don't think theres much opportunity for work or living situation. You'll get sick of seeing "No Overnight Parking" signs real quick...

I would suggest finding a job with the park there. Its great, you'll get decent housing, a little bit of spending money, and a plethora of climbing partners with similar schedules. Work=rest days. summertime, you can boulder in the early morning and evening. If I could do it all again, I'd try to go that route. When the sending temps finally come back in the fall, you can just quit and go full dirtbag if you hate working.

goodluck!

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Loganator wrote:What time period? I can't think of a 6 month period that I would want to stay there. The summers are very warm, and the winters can be very cold. the fall and spring are best. Toulumne is great in the summer of course, so you could go up there a bunch. But with the camping restrictions, the only way to dirtbag in the valley is by sleeping under a rock! The nearest towns are all kinda far to drive in everyday, and I don't think theres much opportunity for work or living situation. You'll get sick of seeing "No Overnight Parking" signs real quick... I would suggest finding a job with the park there. Its great, you'll get decent housing, a little bit of spending money, and a plethora of climbing partners with similar schedules. Work=rest days. summertime, you can boulder in the early morning and evening. If I could do it all again, I'd try to go that route. When the sending temps finally come back in the fall, you can just quit and go full dirtbag if you hate working. goodluck!
I planned on going from October on wards i am well aware of how cold it gets (all the better for friction), working in the us still gives me all the problems i had before and adds in the issue of immigration.
Stephmac McLaughlin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 0

You might have to pare your trip down a bit, the tourist visa for America only lasts three months. Also, the longest you can camp in Yosemite legally is one month, and that's in the off season (Oct to April). Maybe you can roadtrip in the US and then head up to Canada?

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
Stephmac wrote:You might have to pare your trip down a bit, the tourist visa for America only lasts three months. Also, the longest you can camp in Yosemite legally is one month, and that's in the off season (Oct to April). Maybe you can roadtrip in the US and then head up to Canada?
http://www.immihelp.com/visitor-visa/
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

Michael C wrote:
Don't forget you'll need auto insurance too.

Eric Engberg wrote: Depends on what state the vehicle is registered in.
Technically true, but in the very few states (NH,TN,VA)that don't require insurance, you do need to be able to demonstrate financial responsibility. In many cases you will be required to buy a bond that is the equivalent to the minimum liability requirements for that state. So, if the requirements are $25,000/$50,000, then you would need a $75,000 bond.

http://www.carinsurancecomparison.com/drive-free-states-no-liability-car-insurance-required/
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 5
Loganator wrote:What time period? I can't think of a 6 month period that I would want to stay there.
This. So you have 6 months, and want to climb some of the best free and aid routes in North America? Hanging out in the Valley for 6 months is not the way to go. Over a full 6-month period, you'll encounter a lot of non-optimal weather if you stay in one place. It is way better to move around with the seasons, so you are always in a spot with prime weather. Why sweat it out in Yosemite for the summer when you could have nicer weather (and equally good climbing) in Squamish or the High Sierra?

Moving around keeps the psyche fresh too; my productivity seems to drop off if I stay in one place (climbing full time) for more than a month. If you have 6-months, it is easy to get lazy; you feel like have all the time in the world. When you know you're in an area for 3 weeks, you are a lot more motivated to get things done. Yosemite is also just a taxing place- the climbing is demanding, the logistics are a hassle. "Valley burnout" is real. You may actually get more done in 6 motivated weeks with good weather than in 6 months of fighting conditions and growing burnout.

You can easily spend your season there within the legal camping guidelines. You are allotted 30 days camping in Camp 4 outside of the main summer tourist season (during the summer you can only stay 7 days). Time on walls doesn't count toward this total, so if you do a couple walls, and take a week off at some point mid-season to rest and hang out on the beach in Santa Cruz, you can easily stretch this 30 day allotment to last 1.5-2 months. This is as long as you'll want to be there anyway. Show up in early/mid-September as it is starting to cool off in the Valley, and stay until the weather starts to turn and your psyche dwindles in early/mid November. This gives you the best weather of the season, and plenty of time to do what you want to do.

So that's 2 months for Yosemite. What do you do with the rest of the time? Climb in other places! There is a lot of climbing in western North America that is of equal quality to anything in the Valley. You can visit Squamish, the Bugaboos, the Needles, the Hulk, Red Rocks, Zion, Moab, Indian Creek... All are amazing. A standard circuit would be to fly to Vancouver or Seattle in early July and spend much of July/August in Squamish. A trip over to the Bugs for 1-2 weeks in this time frame is a good add-on. Sometime in August or early September head south. You can make a stop in Washington (Washington Pass, Darrington, Index), or just head straight to California. If it is still hot in the Valley when you get to CA, spend some time in Tahoe, the Needles, Tuolomne, or at the Hulk (all offer cooler weather and great granite climbing). Once good conditions arrive in Yosemite sometime in September, settle in there for a while. Once you are ready to leave, head to the desert (Red Rocks, Indian Creek, Zion, etc.) to finish out the fall climbing sandstone. If you are still on the road when winter really arrives, go to J-Tree, Bishop, Cochise, or head down to Mexico.

The biggest advantage of the schedule above is that it lets you prep for the Valley in Squamish (and potentially in other spots like the Needles). For various reasons (camping regulations, logistical hassles, burnout potential), it is better to do your prep work elsewhere to get fit and dialed for granite climbing, and then show up in the Valley ready to rage. Squamish is the perfect training ground for Yosemite. The climbing is fairly similar, so it will prepare you well, but it is a bit more approachable. It is also a fantastic place to spend the summer leading up to autumn in the Valley. In Squamish, the summer weather is pleasant, there are lots of people to climb with, the scene is fun and supportive, logistics are simple, and there is a ton of climbing to do. After a summer spent doing long free routes in Squamish, plus some deliberate "Valley training" days (offwidth days; a few "medium wall" aid routes), you'll be more than ready for your Yosemite goals.
Collin Holt · · Golden, CO · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 0

^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^ Great comment and insight. I agree with 100% of what JCM said.

nkane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 75

Everything JCM said is correct.

Many Euros try to stretch the camping limits by showing up in the valley with long hair and a bushy beard. By the time they start getting recognized around Camp 4, they shave it all off and pretend to be a new person. Obviously, this strategy works best for men. And as you're only 19, your personal genetics will dictate whether this will be feasible.

Eli · · Lives in a truck · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,411
Marc801 wrote:Michael C wrote: Don't forget you'll need auto insurance too. Technically true, but in the very few states (NH,TN,VA)that don't require insurance, you do need to be able to demonstrate financial responsibility. In many cases you will be required to buy a bond that is the equivalent to the minimum liability requirements for that state. So, if the requirements are $25,000/$50,000, then you would need a $75,000 bond. carinsurancecomparison.com/...
I am pretty sure my great state does not require you do to anything other than not drive like a total a-hole.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,332
nkane wrote:Everything JCM said is correct. Many Euros try to stretch the camping limits by showing up in the valley with long hair and a bushy beard. By the time they start getting recognized around Camp 4, they shave it all off and pretend to be a new person. Obviously, this strategy works best for men. And as you're only 19, your personal genetics will dictate whether this will be feasible.
HA! and +1 for JCM
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
Eli Buzzell wrote: I am pretty sure my great state does not require you do to anything other than not drive like a total a-hole.
Did you look at the page I linked?

"New Hampshire is the only state that doesnÂ’t have set car insurance requirements in place. However, it is the only state where, if you cause an accident, donÂ’t have the cash to cover the damages, and choose not to buy insurance, your wages are allowed to be garnished to pay for the damages you caused!

Simply put, New Hampshire requires you to be financially responsible for any accident that you cause. If you choose not to carry car insurance then your personal assets, as well as your cash and current and future earnings, are all in jeopardy."

From that same site, a more detailed explanation of New Hampshire law:

http://www.carinsurancecomparison.com/new-hampshire-car-insurance

"If you drive without insurance and cause an accident, you WILL be required to get insurance after that accident. You will also be responsible for all expenses, injuries, and damages out of your own pocket. That could be thousands of dollars, and people will sue for their money if you donÂ’t have it. Here are two situations to think about.

You donÂ’t have insurance, so you pay $0 monthly for coverage. You cause an accident involving 2 cars (yours and another). There are minor injuries that total about $12,000 in medical costs. One car is totaled and the other sustains $3,500 in damages. The totaled car is valued around $5,000. You also damaged a street sign and a light post, so you owe the city $3,000 in damages. ThatÂ’s $11,500 in property damage and $12,000 in medical bills. Of course, the $5,000 totaled car is yours, as are about $7,500 of the medical bills. That means that you still owe $6,500 in property damage and $4,500 for the other victimÂ’s injuries.
You do have insurance coverage that meets the state minimum requirement, and pay about $105 a month for it. You cause the same accident, with the same amount of damages. Everything is covered under your insurance, and your rates increase slightly. Now, you pay $135 a month for insurance."
Eli · · Lives in a truck · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,411
Marc801 wrote: Did you look at the page I linked? "New Hampshire is the only state that doesnÂ’t have set car insurance requirements in place. However, it is the only state where, if you cause an accident, donÂ’t have the cash to cover the damages, and choose not to buy insurance, your wages are allowed to be garnished to pay for the damages you caused! Simply put, New Hampshire requires you to be financially responsible for any accident that you cause. If you choose not to carry car insurance then your personal assets, as well as your cash and current and future earnings, are all in jeopardy." From that same site, a more detailed explanation of New Hampshire law: carinsurancecomparison.com/... "If you drive without insurance and cause an accident, you WILL be required to get insurance after that accident. You will also be responsible for all expenses, injuries, and damages out of your own pocket. That could be thousands of dollars, and people will sue for their money if you donÂ’t have it. Here are two situations to think about. You donÂ’t have insurance, so you pay $0 monthly for coverage. You cause an accident involving 2 cars (yours and another). There are minor injuries that total about $12,000 in medical costs. One car is totaled and the other sustains $3,500 in damages. The totaled car is valued around $5,000. You also damaged a street sign and a light post, so you owe the city $3,000 in damages. ThatÂ’s $11,500 in property damage and $12,000 in medical bills. Of course, the $5,000 totaled car is yours, as are about $7,500 of the medical bills. That means that you still owe $6,500 in property damage and $4,500 for the other victimÂ’s injuries. You do have insurance coverage that meets the state minimum requirement, and pay about $105 a month for it. You cause the same accident, with the same amount of damages. Everything is covered under your insurance, and your rates increase slightly. Now, you pay $135 a month for insurance."
Sounds like there isn't any purchase of a bond required.
that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0
JCM wrote: This. So you have 6 months, and want to climb some of the best free and aid routes in North America? Hanging out in the Valley for 6 months is not the way to go. Over a full 6-month period, you'll encounter a lot of non-optimal weather if you stay in one place. It is way better to move around with the seasons, so you are always in a spot with prime weather. Why sweat it out in Yosemite for the summer when you could have nicer weather (and equally good climbing) in Squamish or the High Sierra? Moving around keeps the psyche fresh too; my productivity seems to drop off if I stay in one place (climbing full time) for more than a month. If you have 6-months, it is easy to get lazy; you feel like have all the time in the world. When you know you're in an area for 3 weeks, you are a lot more motivated to get things done. Yosemite is also just a taxing place- the climbing is demanding, the logistics are a hassle. "Valley burnout" is real. You may actually get more done in 6 motivated weeks with good weather than in 6 months of fighting conditions and growing burnout. You can easily spend your season there within the legal camping guidelines. You are allotted 30 days camping in Camp 4 outside of the main summer tourist season (during the summer you can only stay 7 days). Time on walls doesn't count toward this total, so if you do a couple walls, and take a week off at some point mid-season to rest and hang out on the beach in Santa Cruz, you can easily stretch this 30 day allotment to last 1.5-2 months. This is as long as you'll want to be there anyway. Show up in early/mid-September as it is starting to cool off in the Valley, and stay until the weather starts to turn and your psyche dwindles in early/mid November. This gives you the best weather of the season, and plenty of time to do what you want to do. So that's 2 months for Yosemite. What do you do with the rest of the time? Climb in other places! There is a lot of climbing in western North America that is of equal quality to anything in the Valley. You can visit Squamish, the Bugaboos, the Needles, the Hulk, Red Rocks, Zion, Moab, Indian Creek... All are amazing. A standard circuit would be to fly to Vancouver or Seattle in early July and spend much of July/August in Squamish. A trip over to the Bugs for 1-2 weeks in this time frame is a good add-on. Sometime in August or early September head south. You can make a stop in Washington (Washington Pass, Darrington, Index), or just head straight to California. If it is still hot in the Valley when you get to CA, spend some time in Tahoe, the Needles, Tuolomne, or at the Hulk (all offer cooler weather and great granite climbing). Once good conditions arrive in Yosemite sometime in September, settle in there for a while. Once you are ready to leave, head to the desert (Red Rocks, Indian Creek, Zion, etc.) to finish out the fall climbing sandstone. If you are still on the road when winter really arrives, go to J-Tree, Bishop, Cochise, or head down to Mexico. The biggest advantage of the schedule above is that it lets you prep for the Valley in Squamish (and potentially in other spots like the Needles). For various reasons (camping regulations, logistical hassles, burnout potential), it is better to do your prep work elsewhere to get fit and dialed for granite climbing, and then show up in the Valley ready to rage. Squamish is the perfect training ground for Yosemite. The climbing is fairly similar, so it will prepare you well, but it is a bit more approachable. It is also a fantastic place to spend the summer leading up to autumn in the Valley. In Squamish, the summer weather is pleasant, there are lots of people to climb with, the scene is fun and supportive, logistics are simple, and there is a ton of climbing to do. After a summer spent doing long free routes in Squamish, plus some deliberate "Valley training" days (offwidth days; a few "medium wall" aid routes), you'll be more than ready for your Yosemite goals.
As good as that sounds, i really don't want to go touring maybe for another trip but not this one, this one i really just want to stay in yosemite for the off season, really take my time let the weather pace me and enjoy the down time and use it to train, go bouldering or running, 6 months in yosemite gives me lots of time and if i pace my self i hopefully wont burn out.
Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
Eli Buzzell wrote: Sounds like there isn't any purchase of a bond required.
Exactly - at least that was the case ~5 years ago. All the laws that might apply to recoop after an accident are only going to be of use if the uninsured owner has some income/assets. Presumably helps if that person is in the country too
20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
that guy named seb wrote: Any body know how i could go about dirt bagging in yosemite as a foreigner for 6 months legally?
Aside from staying with someone who lives in house in the valley, it's physically impossible to stay in the valley that long legally. However, it is 100% legal to drive your car out of the village to El Portal and sleep in your car there. You can do that for as long as you want. It's about a 15 mile drive each way each night.
20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

It does not matter what the laws in NH are, the OP is not climbing there, he is going to CA and in CA you need insurance by law. Regardless of what state you are in, if you are in an at-fault collision, the other driver can sue you and clean you right out, and being a visitor to the US does not mean you can avoid responsibility. There are collection agencies that specifically specialize in collecting international debt from foreign travelers and they have offices in every major country in the world. Further, driving without insurance is a criminal offence, and if you injure someone and you're uninsured, you can be arrested and detained, which would be a really, really bad thing for a foreign national. You need insurance. Period. You will also need a way to register the vehicle, and probably an international drivers license to drive legally. It wont be an easy task. It's hard enough for a US citizen to drive a vehicle legally in some states, it's going to be far harder for a non-citizen.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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