Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Action Alert - Act today to help preserve bouldering in Yosemite



TODAY IS THE LAST DAY the National Park Service is accepting comments on the Merced River Plan (MRP). Please follow this LINK and copy and paste the text below to help preserve bouldering access in Yosemite Valley. Please post comments to this post when you have submitted your comments, so I can stop bugging you!!


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* Please cut & paste the text below in the the first field * Alter or add as you like *

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Here are my comments regarding the Issues addressed in the Merced River Plan Workbook:

- Issue 7: I prefer option C - the only two options provided in the MRP Workbook to reduce river bank impacts at the Upper and Lower Pines Campgrounds are to eliminate or relocate campsites that are near the river. I believe that before these options are considered, efforts should first be made to fence and sign the areas of the riverbank to be protected, as has been done at Devil’s Elbow, and then design river access points in resilient locations and restore riparian areas to natural conditions.

- Issue 9: I prefer option B - more primitive / rustic camping should be created.

- Issue 10: I prefer option C - replace existing bridges with foot bridges designed to enhance the free-flowing condition of the river.

- Issue 12: I prefer option B - restore visitor use opportunities at upper and lower river campgrounds.

- Issue 15: I prefer option A - the installation of a roundabout and under-crossing for pedestrians to relieve congestion.

- Issue 19: I prefer option A - develop more camping to increase capacity.

- Issue 20: I prefer option D - the installation of a pedestrian underpass to allow access to Lower Yosemite Falls. Relocating the lodge entrance or an overpass don’t seem practical and won’t work.

- Issue 22: I prefer option D - the Merced River Gorge segment west of Pohono Bridge has a number of popular climbing areas, including Cookie Cliff, the Rostrum, Reed’s Pinnacle, Elephant Rock, and many others bouldering areas. Climber parking and approach access to these areas should be retained and improved to reduce impacts. Curbing to formalize parking areas may eliminate many parking areas for smaller climbing and bouldering areas that planners might not know about.

- Issue 23: I prefer option A - develop more camping to increase capacity


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As a climber who boulders in Yosemite Valley frequently, here are some additional thoughts:

- The bouldering in Yosemite Valley is universally regarded as some of the best in world. The unique combination of rock quality, rock features, boulder sizes and quantity make the bouldering in Yosemite an Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) that should be protected. Additionally, climbing has a long a significant history in Yosemite Valley.

- Bouldering requires a large amount of gear that makes using shuttle services impractical. Therefore maintaining and increasing the level of recreational parking is critical.

- The bouldering at Camp 4 is considered the birthplace of modern bouldering and has the largest quantity of all the bouldering areas in Yosemite Valley. The site of the former gas station was previously used by boulders for parking but has since been used as a staging area for the recent road improvement projects. I strongly recommend this area be reconfigured into a day use parking when the road improvements are completed.

- The recent reduction of parking in the Ahwahnee Hotel lot has adversely effected climbers as there is a large bouldering area at the base of the talus field and many climbing areas (Royal Arches, etc) are access from this point.

- A permitted parking system would adversely affect those who boulder because of the quantity of gear required for our recreation. There are no reasonable alternatives to transporting the gear in our cars and parking near the bouldering areas.

- The Park should ensure climbing needs are addressed in the MRP, particularly parking locations throughout the Valley and the Merced Gorge segments. Where appropriate, roadside parking should be paved to reduce impacts and moved off the shoulder to improve safety.

- More access options to lesser attractions in the Park and surrounding area rather than regulatory solutions such as day-use reservations, parking permits and closures. All reasonable day-use parking facilities should be developed or improved in the Valley, including Camp 6, Curry Village, and the wilderness parking lot.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Merced River Plan: Update


Merced River & El Cap

Climbers interested in Yosemite issues should take a look at the MRP workbook and get your comments in by DECEMBER 14th (it was recently pushed back from November 30th). The Access Fund's positions on appropriate MRP planning alternatives are as follows:
  • Yosemite planners should work to reverse lodging/camping ratio (currently 60/40) to provide more camping and less emphasis on lodging (move lodging to the park boundaries). Providing more camping in the Park, and limiting lodging in the park to rustic/primitive accommodations, is consistent with the NPS's own management policies that promote visitors having a direct relationship to Park resources. Adjusting this ratio would also be more consistent with a national park instead of the luxury resort or amusement park that Yosemite often resembles.
  • Park planners should include in the MRP the several "improvements" for Camp 4 that were contemplated in Lodge Redevelopment Plan (which was stalled by the MRP litigation). These improvements include showers, fencing to encourage vegetation, limited loud bus noise, foul weather cooking pavilion and communal fire, and a nearby location for Ken Yager's Yosemite climbing museum. In addition to focusing on more camping in the Park, planners should also improve the quality of the camping experience, especially at locations such as Camp 4 where climbers are forced into highly dense and low-quality campsites. Planners should recognize the historic importance of this campground and improve some of the basic amenities such as the bathrooms.
  • Yosemite planners should restore as much camping as possible to sites that have already been disturbed such as the Pine and Oak lodging units and the Rivers Campground that were destroyed in the 1997 flood. These areas in particular could be engineered with the recognition that they will again be flooded. Plan maps should indicate flood plain areas where shallow flood depths and low water velocities make the development of campsites feasible. Planners should establish diversity of camping opportunities (including walk-in, walk-to, and a "drop-off" your gear but walk-in model) and not just limit opportunities to drive-in campgrounds (where RV generators, for example, impact the experience) or the ghetto at Camp 4. The Park should bring campsite numbers at least back to pre-flood totals as contemplated in Yosemite's General Management Plan (there's currently a shortfall of 300 campsites), but any new sites should be focused on placement in the East Valley so that the largely undisturbed areas west of Camp 4 don't also suffer from campfire smoke and new infrastructure.
  • The Park should ensure climbing needs are addressed in the MRP, particularly parking locations throughout Valley and the Merced Gorge segment (Cookie Cliff, Arch Rock, etc.).
  • Park planners should ensure that measures to restore or harden El Cap Meadow are not unsightly from above. The MRP should consider hybrid approach for boardwalk further west of typical climber use areas, and use fencing and other ways to focus people onto a few discrete paths into Meadow. The MRP should ensure that climbers can continue their traditional use of the Meadow.
  • Park planners should ensure that there is adequate day use parking while pursuing a range of transit strategies to reduce auto use in the Valley.
  • The Plan should include a noise control element that addresses noise sources such as idling tour buses, motorcycles, trash collection, RV generators, the Green Dragon touring flatbeds and others.

I'm still working on a "voter's guide" the the workbook. Look for that in a bit...

-Raza



Monday, November 14, 2011

Merced River Plan: NPS wants your feedback



In case you haven't heard, the National Park service has been working on the Merced River Plan for many years now. They have been sued and had to rework the plan TWICE. If they don't succeed this time it is likely that congress will get involved and legislate a plan and nobody thinks that would be a good idea.

I am currently looking over the pdf workbook to come up with some "talking points" that should be included to support and enhance bouldering in Yosemite Valley. Hopefully, I'll have something in a week or so. Check out the links below if you want to get started. THE DEADLINE FOR FEEDBACK IS NOVEMBER 30TH.

This is the NPS link for information:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mrp.htm

This is the link to the workbook:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/upload/Merced-Wkbk-web_interactive.pdf

Looking for other ways to help? Here is a short list:
  • Look over the workbook and post suggestions of good ideas on BetaBase
  • Encourage friends and family to do the same
  • Spread the word on facebook / twitter / climbing blogs / etc.
  • Join the Access Fund
  • Donate to the Yosemite Climber's Association

-Raza

Monday, November 07, 2011

11-7-11: Post Send Depression


Paul Barraza on Post Send Depression [v7]

Here is a problem that was hidden in plain sight. Located on the B1 boulder at Sentinel just between the Jungle Book and the down climb. Perhaps the two-tiered landing was a deterrent, but with the right pad setup, it is pretty safe.

The problem climbs up a faint dihedral using an unusual assortment of holds. The only downward facing holds are at the top, and they are unnervingly slopey. (hence my fear scream at the top - doh). I'll be honest, the rock is not the best, but once this thing cleans up it could possibly be a classic? Bring a bunch of pads and decide for yourself!

-Raza


Sunday, November 06, 2011

11-6-11: Riverside Rock Update

Justin Alarcon on Budōkan [v9] at Riverside Rock

We checked out Riverside Rock a few weeks back and I thought an update would be appropriate. Thanks again to Ryan Alonzo for sending in the information that was used to create a previous post.
All the problems on the east face of this boulder are really fun. (We didn't try the problems on the other side) The climbing holds are bigger than average and the wall is steeper than average, making for some fun, gymnastic climbing. I would recommend stopping there on the way home some day, as it is right off the road.

For those of us who climbed there, we thought the grades were a little off, compared to the rest of the valley. Here are the grades from our limited consensus:

Karate: v8
7up: v5
Capoeria: v5
Balance of Opposites: v6

Budōkan: v9 (Justin added the sit start to Karate)


I contacted Jacob Copeland, a longtime valley developer and it turns out he climbed all the lines a few years back!! He didn't name anything and thought the names that Justin and Ryan came up with were great. He also said that he put up a sit start to 7up - though I have a hard time visualizing how the sit start would link into that problem.

-Raza



Thursday, August 04, 2011

8-4-11: Back to the Future


Tim Medina on Notta Traverse [v7]

Way back in 2005, Andres Mueller told me about a cool new boulder near the Saddle Boulder in Tahoe. He had done a cool problem called Back to the Future, v9 and said there was much more potential, hence the name: The Future Boulder. I checked it out and soon showed Scott Frye and Tim Medina, who did much of the development.

To get to the Future Boulder, drive through the tunnels as you would to get to the Saddle Boulders. After you get through the tunnels, there will be a road off to the left. Sometimes the road is blocked by boulders after a few hundred feet so you may have to park right there but you might be able to drive down to the boulder. Either way you get there, go down the road and the boulder will be on your left just before a wood bridge. The boulder is hard to see from the road, but it is there.

LEFT SIDE
1. Warm up, v0
2. Notta Warm Up, v2/3 Sit start to the warm up.
3. Notta Traverse, v7 Start at the right side of the large shelf and follow the crack system left.
4. Blast from the Past, v3 Climbs center of the face, high and committing
5. Slippery Slope, v6 The crux is getting established on the slippery slope...
6. Super Slippery Slope, v8 Start as for Back to the Future and climbing into Slippery Slope.
7. Back to the Future, v9 Start of left side of big shelf, climb up and right to a good shelf.


RIGHT SIDE
Daniel Soto eating the cookie. He was the inspiration for Marley Marathon

8. Super Crimper Roof, v? Project
9. Name Unknown, v9 Start on shelf and finish at the lip, really cool moves.
10. Direct Finish Project, v? The slab finish to #9, will be a mega classic.
11. Lucky Charms, v10 Start on #9, go right at the lip and finish on Marley Marathon.
12. Marley Marathon, v5 Start sitting on a shelf, climb up diehedral and surmount bulge.

Enjoy!

-Raza

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7-28-11: Riverside Rock

A short video by Ryan Alonzo

I got an email a while back from Ryan Alonzo with a link to the above video. This isn't a boulder that I've seen before, but it looks pretty cool. I talked to Jacob Copeland and it turns out that he had previously climbed some of the lines, so it would be interesting to hear his names / grades for the ones he did. Thank you Ryan for putting this together!!

Here is the info:

Directions: On northside drive about 1 mile west past el cap meadow there will be a paved pullout on the lefthand side of the street that is a view point for Bridalveil falls. Park at the first dirt pull out on the left past the view point. The boulder is next to the road 2 min walk west of pull out.




Wednesday, June 01, 2011

6-1-11: Aphrodite

Raza on Aphrodite [v5]

Here is a great line that was put up this last winter. This was the last installment from the Crumbs, the bouldering area below the Cookie Cliff. It was hard to come up with a grade, since I am not a great crack climber. I managed to wedge my fingers just long enough to send the thing!

Thanks for the vid Scott!

-Raza

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

4-13-11: Bipolar

Raza on the first ascent of Bipolar [v7]

Here is another climb from The Crumbs and this one is right next to (facing) First Act. The problem is fiendishly simple: dyno then mantle. But once you try it, you find out quickly that it is not so simple...

-Raza

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

3-8-11: First Act

Paul Barraza on the FA of First Act [v8]

Things are getting a bit stale around here, so here is some footage of a first ascent I snagged between snow storms this winter. It is in the area we have dubbed the "Crumbs" as they are the base of the Cookie Cliff. There are a few established problems in the area that are cool as well.

The problem starts sitting on a good sidepull feature and finishes on a good rail about 12' up. It is called First Act because the 30 foot second act is yet to be done. (Kevin Jorgeson, are you reading this?) The finish would be tall and committing with a thin technical section right after the big rail, that would be maybe v4x on its own right.

-Raza