Yosemite: The Rim Fire

Map of fire area

Map of fire area

Yosemite National Park; for some a haven for rock climbing, trekking and camping. It is known for its stunning granite landscapes and it's famous "Tunnel View" but for me Yosemite is mostly about two things, Ansel Adams and the Half Dome (which I failed to climb last time I was there).

Covering around 800,000 acres, the park consists of an abundance of vegetation and wildlife, spectacular waterfalls, giant Sequoia trees that date hundreds and thousands of years, and plays host to approx. 3.7m visitors a year. Yosemite was also integral to America's National Park development; it is steeped in both history and beauty.

In August 2013, a fire raged. The "Rim Fire" named after the location it was suspected to have started, burned through 257,314 acres, took 2 months to completely contain, using 3800 firefighters. It destroyed 98 outbuildings and 11 residences. There was approx. a 60 mile dead zone, and 280 square miles of chard, singed, and burnt plantation. The overall cost to area: $127million. And a human hand caused it all.

2014, and not surprisingly the signs of the fire still remain. Fires are not uncommon for this area, however they are usually controlled, used to rejuvenate not too destroy. A hunter with an illegal fire that got out of control caused the “Rim Fire”, his name remains undisclosed, and it has been promised the punishment will be severe. When asked how much trouble he was in, " a lot " was the reply from the spokesman. The Park will, with help, return to life. Some vegetation has already begun to grow from the ashes, slowly.

But for now it's a sad sight, one that is a gigantic reminder of the fragility of the beauty on this planet. And how we should respect and encourage to protect the land that we are lucky to share.

Mountains past....

Well, the upcoming trip has had a slight hiccup, we had planned to do a trek up to and camp in Base Camp Everest..... alas the site is currently shut down due to an avalanche that trapped 30 people for two days and sadly killed 4 people. So we have had to re-design large amounts of the trip, however nature's unpredictability certainly puts a few things in perspective. The other trek to another mountain is also a non option as that has had an unseasonably large amount of snow and is also out of the question. Never mind, we have a new itinerary that looks pretty interesting and somehow, not sure how,  I will try my hardest to get some astrophotography done!

Anyway, thought I would share our last trekking experience, The Half Dome in Yosemite which stands at 8840+ ft. An 8.5 mile walk to the base of the Dome and then the steep incline up the side using two ropes and planks of wood that have been driven into the side..... this at that time was our Everest! It was also where Ansel Adams took his "Monolith, The Face of Half Dome" photography so obviously I was keen. 

We lost a man on the way to the base due to the height and look downwards to the valley floor, so the two of us, gritted our teeth and followed in the foot steps of many many other climbers. It's steep, it's exposed, it's very high. I was following my friend who had sworn every few seconds on every step from the base to a quarter up, we tried to not look left or right, but its pretty hard not to when theres a sheer drop 8,000 feet down, and then while one other climber gave up and "ran down" alongside us a strong wind rocked us the words "oh F*** this Mark" flew out my mouth in which i heard shouted back at me "thank god, i was only carrying on cause of you"........and we were out of there! 

I have never ever regretted not completing the Half Dome. If anything it became a funny story of that trip, one I, and we all look back on with such fondness. Below are a couple of images of that attempt including friend Mark cowering behind a rock (and hiding from the strong winds) and me trying to put a brave "this ain't gonna stop me" face on!

50,000 people a year climb it, you now have to apply for a permit, and I am sure many don't get as far as us, well, thats what i like to think!