National Park Closure?!? / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

"What the... ?!? The government can't actually do that, can they..." But it turns out they can... And they have!

The first I heard about the National Parks (including Yosemite) being shutdown was from some fellow climbers on the Nose, while Sean and I were simul-climbing past them... And this was just a  several second snippet of conversation - I just laughed and definitely did not believe would ever happen. However, we passed 11 other parties of climbers on the Nose that day - Way more that either of us had ever seen on one route ever before! Everyone had heard the rumor of Yosemite closing and scrambled to at least climb one last big wall before they had to leave...  And when we got back down to the Valley floor several hours later, the rumors were confirmed - The park was going to be closed due to a government shutdown!

Niels... Having just made the hair-raising traverse along "Thank God Ledge" Near the top of Half Dome

I still laughed it off and did not believe it would actually happen, until 48 hours had passed... On the 3rd October suddenly there were rangers stationed at the entrance and exit points of the Yosemite stopping anyone who was not a resident or employee in Yosemite entering. By that evening the park was very quiet and empty... I managed to stay for a couple of extra days as I was visiting a friend who actually lived permanently  in the Park. So my birthday present this year was experiencing Yosemite Valley with no one else around. It was incredible to see the legendary Camp 4 deserted, all the facilities closed, parking lots empty, no cars on the road and most of all no constant sound of people...

Sunset in the deserted Valley

However, this has also meant that my time in Yosemite has been cut short/or at least postponed, as recreating in the Park is currently not allowed. This is very disappointing and I am finding it difficult to know what to do, as no one knows when the park is likely to open again...

Yet, I am still very happy to have managed to have a couple of fantastic weeks of climbing on El Capitan - In the space of a week I climbed the Nose four times! Setting a new female record of 5.39 hours with Libby Sauter, and a male/female record of 3.30 hours with Sean Leary!

Near the top of Half Dome

A spur of the moment decision on my part has landed me back in Colorado for a week or so, visiting friends, training with the crew here in Grand Junction, climbing and hoping that the government comes to an agreement soon! On a positive note - It is really nice to see my friends here, training a little, relax and rebuild my motivation again!