Act Now: Share Your Experience to Guide Yosemite Big Wall Climbing Permit System

In summer of 2022, Yosemite National Park (YNP) announced that some form of their pilot big wall climbing permit system was here to stay. Right now, climbers have a chance to weigh in on the future of that system to make sure it gives YNP the capacity to protect these wild landscapes without heavily restricting climber access.

Yosemite National Park, California. Ancestral lands of Southern Sierra Miwok, Northern Paiute, and Miwok. © Francois Lebeau.

What’s Happening
In 2021, YNP announced a two-year pilot program requiring Wilderness climbing permits for overnight big wall climbs. In summer 2022, based on results of the program over the last two big wall seasons, they announced that some form of permanent permit system is coming.

Yosemite National Park has hosted three public meetings. At the meetings, they reported some of the results of the big wall permit pilot program, gathered feedback, and took questions from attendees about the future of the program.

The pilot program gave climbing rangers a chance to connect with and educate big wall teams on impacts by requiring climbers to pick up their permits in person during peak big wall season. Despite facing heavy impacts on Yosemite’s big walls—abandoned gear, neglected food caches, improper human waste disposal, trash found stuffed in cracks from the base to the summit—climbing rangers report improvement over the last year and a half without resorting to heavily restricted access. If climbers want to keep it that way—free of fees, quotas, and other restrictions—now is the time to make our voices heard.

Act Now: Share Your Experience to Guide the Future Permit System
Right now, climbers need to speak up to let YNP know that the climbing community supports efforts to preserve the Wilderness character of Yosemite’s big walls through the least restrictive means possible and that we will remain engaged throughout the process. Use our talking points below to guide your comments:

Talking Points

  • Share your own personal experience with permit systems in national parks and Wilderness areas, especially those related to big wall climbing in Yosemite or other national parks.
  • Thank YNP for including climbers in the conversation around the permit system, and encourage them to continue to accept stakeholder input.
  • Express your concerns around future quotas and fees, and that YNP should exhaust lighter management options before resorting to those that would restrict access unnecessarily.
  • Urge YNP to design a flexible permit system that offers year-round, in-person self-registration and allows for changes in plans and off-hour delivery of permits. Self-registration would eliminate the need to administer permits through Recreation.gov.
  • Urge YNP to offer camping before and after the climb and support designated areas within Yosemite for climbers to camp.
  • Offer your support for education initiatives to protect the wilderness climbing experience in Yosemite.

    The NPS comment portal can be found here. Deadline for comments is November 13th. Submit your comments now to make sure your voice is heard along with the rest of the climbing community.