Yosemite Park’s Dawn Wall climbers: They made it!

January 15, 2015

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on January 14 completed their free-climb ascent of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park — labeled the toughest free climb in the world.

Wow. Just wow.

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.  San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

This interactive piece at the New York Times should give the proper sense of awe for what they’ve done. (If you’re a climber, you may want to get some more technical reports from YosemiteBigWall.com, who contributed to that interactive presentation.)

PBS’s Newshour had among the best reports:


Climbing the Dawn Wall in Yosemite — a little spot of light

January 13, 2015

NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson posted this photo on her Twitter feed, a shot from NBC photographer Scot Kilian:

@HallieJackson:  Incredible shot from NBC's Scott Kilian: that tiny dot of light on side of #DawnWall is where the climbers slept.

@HallieJackson: Incredible shot from NBC’s Scott Kilian: that tiny dot of light on side of #DawnWall is where the climbers slept.

It’s a long exposure, enough that the stars brighten the black sky, but not quite so much that the stars become streaks on the photo.  Long enough that the lights used by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson register on the CMOS (I’m assuming no film here).

Incredibly, their tents are pitched upon the rock, where mountain goats and cliff-dwelling birds fear to tread. It’s very much a vertical sheet of almost smooth rock.

And it’s a great photo.  In these particularly troubled times, any light shining on human cooperation to achieve great things becomes a beacon.

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Stars smile on climbers at El Capitan

January 7, 2015

Nice photo forwarded from the Wilderness Society.

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Stars over Yosemite's El Capitan (in honor of @kjorgeson & @tommycaldwell1). Have a good night!  (Photo by Justin Kern, flickr)

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Stars over Yosemite’s El Capitan (in honor of @kjorgeson & @tommycaldwell1). Have a good night! (Photo by Justin Kern, flickr)

Actually, this photo probably is not from the past few days, when Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell worked to free climb the rock — but the Milky Way is there if they care to look!

Not just the whole world is watching — the whole universe shines down.

(Have you been following their climbing exploits?)

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Fallen Monarch: A Yosemite tree that dwarfs an entire mounted cavalry

August 13, 2014

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site:    About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site: About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Giant sequoia trees can be found only in the United States, and only in or near the Sierra Mountains in California. 

How massive are they?  The tree above, with the 6th Cavalry’s F Troop posing on and around it with their horses, is 26 feet in diameter at its base, where it fell, and 285 feet long,   Redwood doesn’t rot like other woods.  The tree is still there, today, looking much like it did 115 years ago (Comments on Yosemite NP photo).

The Fallen Monarch, in Mariposa Grove, in 1907:

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

When did the tree fall?  Hundreds of years ago, perhaps?

More:

Yosemite NP Nature Notes 11: Big Trees


You should visit Yosemite National Park in winter

January 11, 2014

Here’s why, another video from the good people at Yosemite National Park:

Any of the National Parks is special, in winter.  What is your snow and cold experience in them?

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Winter photo of the Yosemite Valley, by Q T Luong -- a key photo used by the Ken Burns group in their series of films on the National Parks.

Winter photo of the Yosemite Valley, by Q T Luong — a key photo used by the Ken Burns group in their series of films on the National Parks.


‘The water is awake, and alive!’ Yosemite Falls

December 30, 2013

I love the poetic descriptions, from geologists!

From Yosemite National Park’s “Nature Notes”:

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2009

Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, and is a powerful presence in Yosemite Valley. From winter ice to spring flood to autumn dryness, this magnificent waterfall is a dynamic force of nature.

There’s even a resurrection story for the falls. Maybe Emily Dickinson was on to something about finding religion in nature.

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National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and n...

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club , on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park in 1903. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Yosemite NP’s Rim Fire time-lapse

September 18, 2013

USDA/Flickr photo via Mother Jones: A National Park Service fire crew builds a sprinkler system around a grove of sequoias. USDA/Flickr

USDA/Flickr photo via Mother Jones: A National Park Service fire crew builds a sprinkler system around a grove of sequoias. USDA/Flickr

It’s a rolling tragedy, in time-lapse.  Fire always offers a chance at beauty, if we don’t think about the destruction the fire wreaks.

A lot of cameras around Yosemite, and some were set to do time-lapse photos of the recent Rim Fire.  One hopes there is some academic value to these films, perhaps in demonstrating how the diurnal rhythms of the atmosphere changes the behavior of fire (notice how smoke often changes directions at sunset, and then at sunrise, and back again).

All that smoke.  Much of it was living plant material just a few weeks ago, and we watch it turned to tiny particles and gases, and spread by the winds.

More information from the filmmakers and posters:

Published on Aug 28, 2013

Time-lapse photography shows various perspectives of the 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from Yosemite National Park. The first part of this video is from the Crane Flat Helibase. The fire [was]  . . .burning in wilderness and  . . . not immediately threatening visitors or employees. The second half of the video is from Glacier Point, showing Yosemite Valley, and how little the smoke from the fire has impacted the Valley.

In this next piece, you’ll see footage of fire fighting operations, including a back-burn, and helicoptering of supplies to firefighters on the front lines.  It’s the non-time-lapse version, with wildtrack sound.

Published on Sep 7, 2013

Fire crews in Yosemite conducted firing operations along the Tioga Road this week to provide a buffer of protection from the Rim Fire. As you can see in this video, the fire mostly burns debris on the forest floor rather than the trees. It’s only when the forest floor accumulates too much debris or too many young trees that a small fire like this gets hot enough to torch mature trees and spread from treetop to treetop.

Later in the video, we give you a behind-the-scenes peek at Yosemite’s Helicopter 551 ferrying supplies from the Crane Flat helibase.

The timelapse, from August, has over a million-and-a-half views on YouTube; the non-timelapse, a few weeks later, has fewer than 6,000 views, as I write this.  Time-lapse is very popular.

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