- Badass Books: Without Restraint - 03/07/2023
- Badass Books: Singletrack Mind - 03/06/2023
- Editor’s Note #127 // The Raging Buddhist - 02/13/2023
Sign the petition to save Yosemite’s Camp 4
See petition here
Please help save Yosemite’s Camp 4. Yosemite Valley is the center of the universe for rock climbers. From Royal Robbins to Yvon Chouinard to Lynn Hill to Tommy Caldwell to Alex Honnold to countless others—the history of our sport is etched on the walls of Yosemite.
Unfortunately, under Yosemite’s current 100% digital reservation system, all the campsites in Yosemite Valley are continually booked many months in advance during the climbing season. A relatively small number of tech-savvy tourists book all the campsites and climbers get almost nothing. Climbers are forced to sleep hours away or pay for expensive lodging in the Valley. This makes it nearly impossible for us to follow in the footsteps of our heroes.
The problem is that relatively wealthy visitors with high-speed internet are “gaming the system” by gobbling up campsites months in advance the SECOND they become available online. The registration fees are trivial to them so they work in teams from multiple digital devices to grab every possible site. Months later many don’t even show up. As the sites become available at the last second, climbers pay $10 to enter a lottery with a 10% chance of getting a site. All the profits go to a third-party vendor while the official reservation website (Recreation.gov) shows every site in Yosemite from April to October is perpetually booked.
The 100% digital reservation system was designed to be a fair way to distribute campsites, but in practice it’s just the opposite. The current system favors suburban tourists who keep every campsite booked, some without fully intending to ever show up.
Camp 4 is federally recognized for its climbing legacy and history but climbers can’t even stay there anymore. This traditional climber’s campsite should revert to the traditional in-person reservation system that allows climbers to show up and get on the list. This reservation system is part of the character of Camp 4 that climbing legends like Tom Frost fought so hard to save.
Besides climbers, lower-income visitors without high speed internet are also left out. Due to structural inequalities in America, persons of color and other marginalized groups are disproportionately harmed by the 100% high-speed digital reservation system. How can they compete when Recreation.gov is perpetually booked by teams of suburban techies working together from multiple terminals using broadband internet? Anyone with slower internet doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell getting a campsite.
The easy solution is to designate at least one campground for in-person reservations. Anyone could show up, get on the list, and receive a text when a campsite opens up.
Camp 4 is the logical spot for such a campground. Camp 4 has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its climbing history. Until the pandemic it was possible to get in person reservations there.
Please sign this petition if you want to see a separate, in person reservation system for Camp 4. This reservation system should be first come, first served. Whoever shows up gets on the list, and you receive a text message when your campsite becomes available.
Previous generations of climbers could reasonably expect a legal place to lay their heads in Yosemite. Not so anymore. We must make at least one campground in the Valley available for in person reservations. Otherwise the priceless historical character of Camp 4 has been lost forever to climbers.