Oh Captain, My El Capitan

Looking southeast atop Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. Photo: Taylor Pipes, June 26, 2011

Yosemite. That singular word is pretty much all it takes to evoke the beauty, grandeur and magnitude that signify the most publicly recognized pillar of the United States National Park system.

Although, not the first park to be created under the auspices of the NPS, its formation and back story helped pave the way for other parks in the system. Yosemite boasts under 4 million visitors per year, mostly during the spring and summer. Seldom do the tourists spilling into the parks vehicle entrances venture off concrete or from the bustling Yosemite Valley. The three percent who do are the motley bunch that get to experience the beauty and spoils of California’s most beautiful High Sierra.

Two weeks ago, State Route 120 officially opened to vehicle traffic. Known as Tioga Pass Road, it is the only east-west route to bisect the entire length of the park and traverses from the Tuolumne Meadows to the park’s western gate. This artery is also the best access point to some of the best camping and hiking. It is also an excellent way to reach the famed Pacific Coast Trail and high-Alpine destinations that

This past weekend, heavy snowpack dominated the meadows. Campgrounds were still shuttered and a majority of trails were blocked by dangerous, swift-moving streams and densely packed ice and snow. These late season, high altitude conditions are apparent not only in Yosemite but across Western America from Idaho to Washington.

While the snow is slowly melting away, the timetable for climbing and hiking across Yosemite will soon be open. In preparation for those times, we give you some of the best articles that have recently been featured in Zinio publications that showcase climbing, hiking, and hidden treasures available in the Sierras — and in many cases, far from the densely packed arteries and parking lots within the park itself. So choose your own adventure from some spectacular articles and photography below (click on the photo spread to see the article).

National Geographic Interactive, May 2011
Daring. Defiant. Free.

Incredible, lush, reach-out-and-grip it photography documents the new era of superclimbers that push their bodies and test the limits of climbing in Yosemite. Alex Honnold is an example of these fearless bunch. He ascended the Northwest Face of Half Dome sans rope in two hours, 50-minutes. When that 4,840-foot ascent was first tackled in 1957 by Royal Robbins and his team it took them five days.

Daring. Defiant. Free.

National Geographic Traveler, July – August 2011

A recollection on the power of the night sky and stars during an expedition along the John Muir Trail. During the day, few migrate within a mile of pavement into the wilderness, but at night that number dips even lower. Do you wish to experience the park with no lines and fellow hikers? This is the article to explore, giving all the best insight into locating points of the park not decimated by glare or light.

The 211-mile John Muir Trail starts near the base of Half Dome in the Yosemite Valley.

Gripped: The Climbing Magazine, April – May 2011
El Capitan: 1969

The story of the first Canadian ascent of El Capitan’s ‘nose’ — which, in 1969, was one of the world’s biggest climbs at 31 pitches.

The First Canadian Ascent of the Nose

Men’s Journal, June 2011
Hidden Yosemite

The constant theme of a lot of our Yosemite publications are similar: climbing and hiking — both of which feature images far from the parking lots and densely packed valley. These hallmarks are what the tourist in us seeks, and the adventurer deep inside yearns. Get yourself to Young Lake and start enjoying the other ‘3 percent’ of the park, eh?

The Sierra's Greatest Vistas Are Best Viewed Tourist-Free

Climbing, May 2011
The Love Letter

A story about one climber’s time spent in Sierra High Country.

Six weeks in the Sierra High Country

Cowboys & Indians, March 2011
Photo Essay: Carlton E. Watkins

This is a fantastic article about little-known Carlton Watkins, long considered the first reknowned landscape photographer, and some of his early work is the most celebrated, beautiful imagery captured from across Yosemite. Photography alone from within the boundaries of Yosemite would be worthy of its own blog post.

Photo Essay: Carlton E. Watkins

Climbing, October 2010
The Project
In October, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson met in Yosemite Valley to begin a multi-week free climb up the Dawn Wall — El Capitan’s meanest, biggest stretch of climbing.

The Project: Inside the four-year effort to create the world's most difficult rock climb

About Taylor

Editor, blog.zinio.com
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One Response to Oh Captain, My El Capitan

  1. Pingback: Summer Traditions, Memories and Smores. « greenwoodlakehouse

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