The fourth stop in our series of great locations for action and adventure sports photography: Yosemite National Park.
With up to four million visitors every year, the Yosemite National Park is one of the USA’s major tourist attractions and also one of the world’s most interesting climbing spots. Climbers love Yosemite for the variety of challenges they can find, from crack climbs at Merced River Canyon to multi-day aid climbs on the Valley’s big walls.
Yosemite Valley has had a huge impact on the international climbing community, with many tools and techniques first developed there. For a long time, it was considered the training ground for climbers to test their skills, as the slick, polished rocks of Yosemite offer few handholds, and therefore require a lot of expertise and skill.
One of the most famous rock climbing spots within the park is El Capitan, a 910m vertical rock formation located on the north side of Yosemite Valley. Once considered impossible to climb, ‘El Cap’ today features numerous established routes, the most well-known being The Nose.
While most experienced alpinists take at least a few days to conquer The Nose, a new generation of speed climbers have reduced the record to a matter of hours. In October 2008, Hans Florine and Yuji Hirayama took just 2hr 37min 5sec to complete the ascent.
The stunning wilderness of Yosemite is a great backdrop for climbing enthusiasts and attracts photographers throughout the year. This leads to crowding in some spots during summer, when climbers and photographers are joined by tourists on holiday.
However, temperatures in the summer months are often so high that climbing becomes virtually impossible. To escape the crowds and the stifling heat, it’s a good idea to head further up to the park’s high country during this period.
Climbing or shooting at Yosemite requires meticulous planning and preparations. Photographers working in this area should always bring a good supply of water, solid boots for boulder-filled approach trails and descents, and rain gear between late fall and spring, where you can expect anything from hot periods to rain or snow.
Although stunningly beautiful, Yosemite National Park is a dangerous place. Photographers should research the area fully since hazards include bears, poison oak and other potentially lethal pitfalls.
Additionally, the thousands of people using the park have had an impact on the area’s ecosystem. Erosion, destruction of cliff side vegetation and water pollution are just some of the negative effects that the masses of climbing enthusiasts have made.
However, if climbers as well as photographers respect the nature of Yosemite National Park and treat its great climbing locations with care, the region will be sure to attract many more future generations of adventure seekers.
Fresno-Yosemite International Airport is the nearest major airport, serving over 25 cities with more than 100 flights daily. Airlines include Alaska, Continental, Delta, and many others.