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Yosemite Valley for Spring Break?

Original Post
Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Hey Gang!

I've noticed some posts asking about conditions around the Valley, so figured I would start a thread where folks can meet other climbers if you're planning on coming out here in the next couple weeks.

It has been in the 50s, and the sunny side of the Valley was pretty much melted out (not the top of the Valley, like the top of El Cap, but the rocks on the sunny side like Ranger Rock, base of El Cap (some bad ice fall days, though), etc..........

But woke up to a few inches of snow this morning, sounds like it is snowing down to 3000 feet, and is expected to continue until tomorrow. So probably not going to be a lot of dry rock, save for Parkline Slab (an awesome half-mile wide, 1000' tall slab right above El Portal on the hwy 140), for at least a couple days.

The first cliffs to dry out will be Reed's Pinnacle and Five and Dime on the hwy 120, and the Cookie and nearby cliffs in the lower canyon of the hwy 140. Arch Rock is closed for Peregrine Falcon nesting now. Cliffs in Yosemite Valley are not looking like they will be dry until wed, then it would be Manure Pile/Swan Slab/Five Open Books that might be dry first (the 5.5 route up Sunnyside bench too).

Folks have asked about El Cap routes. Definitely the easier clean routes - Lurking Fear, Nose, and Salathe are at least a month out from being climbable. There is a few feet of snow on the summit and those routes follow long crack systems that run with the water for the last several hundred feet before the top, making topping out very difficult.

Freeblast and the Dolt Run (climbing the first 1/3rd of the Nose and Salathe routes) have been dry and in primo, super awesome conditions (of course now they are under snow so will probably not be climbable until next weekend ;(. The ropes from Heart Ledge are in good shape (don't know about the rope from Mammmoth to Heart, sorry), and there is one-rope rapping set up from Sickle Ledge, and from the pitch 6 belay on the Nose (base of the Stovelegs). Going to get the rest of the stations put in for the one-rope rapping from Dolt in the coming weeks!

Zodiac is super climbable right now, as long as you mind intermittent runoff on several pitches, which can be mitigated or avoided with careful timing and logistics. SUPER important that you fix to pitch 4 anchor with two ropes right now (you tie the ropes together and fix to intermediate stations - so you do not rappel to the end of the first rope, or to the knot, you stop at a station partway down and fix your rope, so that you and your partner can both be jugging back up at the same time ;). After fixing to pitch 4, you will want to do one haul from the ground, passing the knot. Then you will want to climb to the pitch 7 anchor, which is the first pitch in the White Circle and is completely protected from runoff. Your second night will probably be in a more exposed spot, but with a fly and bivy sacs you should be fine - only the last three pitches get super wet, and the first of those is C1, so you will just have to time your top out for the middle of the day.

Many have asked about the descent off of El Cap right now. The East Ledges is definitely the best way to go (folks who try to hike off to Eagle Peak and down the Falls Trail tend to get lost in the woods where the trail is not well marked and the snow gets super deep). I think the East Ledges is actually easier with a blanket of snow - you just walk over this carpet of snow instead of winding through manzanita forests and around wet slabs. You might have to use your own ropes for rappelling though, as sometimes the ropes get messed up from sitting in snow and ice.

Camp 4 is empty, as most folks are enjoying driving down the 140 and camping by the river in El Portal, with ankle high grass/flowers, and much warmer temps. The Yosemite Lodge bar has a fire at night, so come by and hang out (I work there) when it gets dark (6 - 630pm right now).

Woot! Woot!
Erik Sloan -

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Also - it appears that there are Peregrine Falcon closures in place now for several cliffs (typically early/mid March to mid July). I say this because I saw signs at Arch Rock and at El Capitan, but can't find any info listing the closures on the government's website ( Does anyone have a link to the closure list?

LiamB · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 60

You're the man. Getting on the plane in a few days with these questions in mind. Now i have some answers.

Thanks Erik!

SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

Hey Erik, confirming 120/big oak flat road is open from the valley to foresta road for access to five and dime and reeds? Or is 120 open again. Thanks for the info! Very helpful.

Ps. Parkline last week had perfect weather/conditions. One addition, the slab has a healthy amount of moss carpets growing all over it and with the snow and storms it has been coming down in sheets and piling up at the base of some areas (eg Machine gun, fembots) to name a couple. Some of the routes are FILTHY right now. FYI. Cheers!

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Just called the NPS Road Conditions hotline: 209-372-0200.

Yes the Hwy 120 is open from the hwy 140/120 junction (half a mile below/before Yosemite Valley) to Forresta, which means you can access Reeds, Five and Dime, Treasure Island (in the Reid guide and has new sport routes, but all 5.11 and up), Knob Hill, etc.

It's really coming down in the Valley right now - about 4 inches and counting. BBBBRRRRRR!

It's nice to check the webcams for updates too:…

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

In past years the closure on el cap has been from New dawn over to the NA wall area (not sure of the exact closures but that is the general area) Certain routes have specific pitches that seep so be ready to get wet. With the amount of moisture the sierra has been getting those parts of the wall could seep for weeks as the spring melt gets going. examples are the changing corner pitch on the nose, the sewer pitch on the salathe, the corner pitch above the roof on the shield. Also the zodiac tends to get hit pretty hard by horsetail falls depending on wind direction. If it were me I'd wait for a bit to get on the captain right now.

Tobin Sanson · · San Rafael, CA · Joined May 2008 · Points: 745

Wow! Thanks for the update, Erik!

Can't wait to start the season a little early :) See you out there.

Miguel D · · SLC · Joined May 2014 · Points: 479

Thanks Erik! Very useful info.

I might try to head out there this weekend if I can find a parnter and most the snow melts. I imagine the Royal Arches area will be mostly snow free by the weekend? And do you think Camp 4 would fill up by Friday night?

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Yo Gang!

It did warm up this afternoon and start melting on the sunny side of the Valley. But it's clear and crunchy snow now so it will be at least Thursday before anything in the Valley is dry....though I'd bet you could climb at Parkline Wed. Solid two - four inches of snow still on the Valley floor.

Camp 4 has certainly not been full yet this year, and almost certainly will not fill up this weekend because of the cold, wet weather. It did overflow last year with Spring Breakers, but it was warmer.

One plus side of camping right now is that there is an incredible amount of dead and downed trees and limbs - both from beetle kill and from the winter's storms - all over, so should be able to stay toasty relatively easy....if it's not rainy, haha.

Woot Woot!

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Your question about the C4 scene got me interested, so I went and checked it out. Looked like ten cars in the parking lot. Most campsites were just full of snow!.....but seriously, you can drive 25 minutes down the 140 and camp in a lush, spring paradise, so I'm surprised there are even that many folks there.

Miguel D · · SLC · Joined May 2014 · Points: 479

Erik, sorry to keep bugging you, where exactly are these spots to camp near El Portal? It is outside park boundaries, right? Free, dispersed camping or paid established campgrounds? Are we talking Indian Flat/Overview Dirt/Dry Gulch?

Thanks for your info, it will save me (and probably others) a fair amount of driving back and forth the road to find an available spot to camp

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

No problem. I stayed with a friend at Dry Gulch last weekend. Sweet, but a little spendy at $26 per site I think. Most folks just enjoy the late light in the park (Tunnel View is better than say the El Cap meadow right now because the meadow is snowy and somewhat flooded) and then just drive down the hwy 140 and camp in a pullout by the road. The signs say 'no overnight parking', and I'm not saying that I do it or that I've ever done it, but I've seen hundreds of cars parked there on busy weekend nights, and few cars parked every night. There are pullouts all along the 140 - the best ones are on the El Portal side of the river.

I'm sure Indian Flat, RedBud, Dry Gulch, and all of the area campgrounds will have some availability this week/weekend. Post here if that is not the case!


Miguel D · · SLC · Joined May 2014 · Points: 479

Great! Thanks again Erik, if I do head out there I'll try to stop by the Yosemite Lodge in the evening!

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

As I thought, Thursday and it looks like the sunny side cliffs above the Valley floor are at least snow free, though still look a little wet. Bay Tree Flake at Swan Slab is dry, as I'm sure the routes at Ranger Rock are. Still lots of water running down the crags, but warm, so by this weekend should be pretty dry and perfect (save for the bigwall routes, which will still have water running down the cracks - except for Zodiac and Leanting Tower).

Go For It!

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

Perfect today in the Valley! Every crag seems to have some water running down a route or two(we were mapping so went to several), but plenty of dry stuff too.

Gonna be a party in Camp 4 this weekend. Woot! Woot! E

Matt Miccioli · · Stanford, CA · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 70

Any idea if the Royal Arches area (e.g. Serenity-Sons) will be climbable anytime soon? The forecast for the next week looks pretty promising.

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

The first pitch of Serenity still had a little trickle on it, but the Arches area had plenty of dry rock!

Brandon Adams · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 490

In regards to current peregrine closures. Thanks for giving these awesome birds space.

Hamid Aghdaee · · Oakland, ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 5

Dang! My partner and I were planning to climb the nose this weekend. Erik, do you really think it's actually unclimbable?

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 135

I think it would be difficult to climb the upper part of the Nose this weekend. If you climb 5.12, so can lead wet 5.10/5.11 it might not be too bad, and could be good training for Patagonia or other alpine missions, but looks pretty wet for now.

Mydans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 70

If you really want to do El Cap this weekend I would recommend the zodiac or the trip. Both routes are steep enough to be pretty dry the whole way except for a little bit of seepage toward the top.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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