Heading through the valley to go bouldering in Tuolumne Meadows? Be sure to get the beta before you go.
Just above Yosemite Valley, the birthplace of American climbing and bouldering sits Tuolumne Meadows. The valley itself is full of granite monoliths and historic big wall ascents. Our personal favorite is the iconic first free ascent (not to be confused with the first female ascent) of The Nose by iconic climber Lynn Hill. Climbing in the valley is hard (to put it lightly), but stick with it and you might find yourself saying “It goes, boys”.
When you first enter Yosemite, it’s pretty obvious why climbers flock there from all over the world. The seemingly endless granite cliffs and domes tower over you like giants! However, in the shadows of those giants, and nestled in the forests are some high quality granite boulder problems that test your finger strength, your technique, and often, your bravery! With great weather, great views, and great post-send swim spots – Yosemite (specifically Tuolumne) is an excellent summer destination!– Amanda Jaramillo @amandarjara
Tuolumne Meadows is kind of like Yosemite Valley’s friendlier little sister. The crowds are fewer, the camping is easier, and the temps are cooler at elevation. Best of all, the boulders are much less polished and perhaps a bit less sandbagged (just a bit).
The Climbing Style in Yosemite & Tuolumne
From the awe-inspiring scenery to the endless boulders, it’s hard to have a bad day in Yosemite, says Maggie Gierard. Due to the sheer volume of climbing options, you can find problems in almost any style you want, but be prepared for sharp, unforgiving rock.
Almost all the rock in the park is coarse granite, which is amazing for friction (especially in cold temperatures). However, it is rough on the skin, so taking time to care for yourself is extra important, says Maggie. It’s hard to be too mad about a little forced rest – the views in the park are spectacular just about anywhere you are. The grading here is notoriously sandbagged, so leave your ego at home and come prepared for a challenge!
Trip Beta: Travel Tips for Tuolumne Bouldering
Boulderer Sonia Rackelmann reports that there are several places to camp on Tioga road. This makes Tuolumne more accessible than the valley due to how far away you might be camping. Jo adds that once inside park boundaries, you are only allowed to stay within established campsites. The Tuolumne Meadows campsite has several walk-in and “first come first serve” sites. This campsite makes it slightly easier to find a spot, especially on weekdays.
Unless of course, you’re ready to plan very far ahead and reserve a campsite in the valley.
Campsites in Yosemite Valley fill up during popular seasons 6 months in advance, when they first open. Harding Flat is a good alternative when trying to camp in the valley, especially the first night you stay since it’s on the way in when coming from the west side.
Pro tip: be sure to stop for a dip in Tenaya lake to cool off after a sunny day of bouldering.
Access: Climbing Etiquette for Tuolumne Bouldering
As always, be sure to educate yourself on leave no trace principles for the area. Read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) in our article: What is the Leave No Trace Philosophy?
Tuolumne and Yosemite Valley are home to black bears. This means all food, toiletries, or anything scented need to be secured overnight. You don’t want to wake up with a bear nosing around your stuff. So, be sure to use your bear box and follow all designated rules at the campsite.
Girl Beta: Bouldering Videos for Tuolumne
Sometimes it helps to get another woman’s perspective on which boulder problems to get on. Below you’ll find a selection of female favorites, and a great roadmap on which routes to add to your tick list when visiting Tuolumne Meadows.
Warning: If you’re climbing onsight, scroll no further. Spoilers ahead!
Tuolumne Bouldering Videos
Solar Eclipse – V3
Space Balls – V4
Solar Flare – V4
The Arête – V4
The Roof – V4
And The Livin’s Easy – V5
Kauk Problem – V5
Cellulite Eliminator – V5
Summertime Traverse – V6
Campus Cave – V6
Ian’s Prow – V6
Black Matter – V6
White Stuff – V7
Cellulite Eliminator Sit – V7
For The Glory – V7
Lost But Not Forgotten – V8
Hand Grenade – V8
Tank Roof Sit – V9
Fear and Loathing in Tuolumne – V9
Solo Endeavors – V9
Space and Time – V10
Big shout out to the climbers who provided these videos! You can follow their sends on the following links: