Yosemite in the spring - best month?

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seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 18, 2018 - 12:00pm PT
Hey there. I'm planning on visiting Yosemite in the spring of 2019. I live in the UK and have been to the Valley a couple of times before, but only in the autumn. I've found September to be far too hot for me, particularly as I'm interested in cragging/free routes rather than doing a wall.

So, locals, can you give some insight into the weather and crowds situation in the spring? Is May still a good month or has climate change pushed the season back into April? I'm looking at short climbs rather than El Cap.

Any insight much appreciated.
Climberdude

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
Dec 18, 2018 - 12:10pm PT
There will be crowds every month of the year, particularly if you are focusing on only doing the so-called multiple star routes. Take a number and get in line. Yes, both April and May will be crowded on the cragging routes.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Dec 18, 2018 - 01:06pm PT
As DMT mentions April may still bring showers and the flowers will bloom in May. Climbing weather (cool) is more typical in April.

A nice thing about the Valley is you can move around to find good temps. Chase the sun or the shade, or change elevation.

If it's cool climb on the North side, facing South. Climb East facing in the morning (five open books) to get morning sun. Or climb lower elevations like Cookie Cliff.

If it's warm climb on the South Side facing North.e.g. Middle Cathedral. Or climb in the shade (e.g. west side of El Cap in the morning, Five Open Books in the afternoon.).

Weather is wetter in the Spring, but days are longer.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Dec 18, 2018 - 01:11pm PT
For cragging free routes, late October is probably the best bet. Fall is usually drier than spring.

If you come in May, you might be able to climb up in the high country of Tuolumne, depending on how much snow there is and when HY 120 opens.
WBraun

climber
Dec 18, 2018 - 01:12pm PT
best month

November December January February March into April then too many st00pid climbers show up jumping like monkeys :-)
seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 18, 2018 - 01:15pm PT
Thanks guys, mid/late April is looking like a good time to arrive.
Milkman_photos

Trad climber
California, San Francisco
Dec 18, 2018 - 01:46pm PT
Also pay attention to the Raptor Closures for classics like the rostrum this time of year
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 18, 2018 - 02:24pm PT
I've had my best times there in late Sept. through October. Almost got caught in an early winter storm on El Cap in Oct. once though. We topped out on the first bad day.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 18, 2018 - 03:30pm PT
Always liked early May - but I don't like cool nights and moderate heat never bothered me much. Plus the days are long, which is good for the long stuff with big approaches and descents. After about mid May it starts cooking.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Dec 18, 2018 - 03:45pm PT
It's not so much the climbers, who can be worked around, as the tourists that cause me grief the last few years. Once they close down one lane of the roads for emergency access traffic becomes a nightmare during the day in the busy season. And shuttles are packed. I'm going to start bringing a bike more often, which of course isn't an easy option if you fly in. So Get where you want to go early, pack a lunch, and don't plan on being back to camp before dinner.
Rattlesnake Arch

Social climber
Home is where we park it
Dec 18, 2018 - 03:51pm PT
Used to like September-October the best, but its been smoky from wildfires lately. Spring seems like a better bet, at least for air quality.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Dec 18, 2018 - 03:56pm PT
Werner has it right of course. Winter is the best time for climbing the classics at Arch and The Cookie, Cascade Falls etc....these crags face due south and can be too hot by May...the crap shoot is the weather as it might rain like hell or be totally dry...but the temps are ideal for sending.

In the last few years that I climbed, I liked Yosemite in winter the best. Having a flexible schedule to work around the weather helps a lot.

But even though places like Arch and the Cookie can be great, a lot of south facing routes that would be warm enough have sections that stay wet all winter.
seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 18, 2018 - 04:48pm PT
If in May it were to begin to get a bit warm in Yosemite for my pallid English constitution, what time of year do the Needles come into condition? Or should I be considering Shuteye Ridge, or elsewhere? (I've been to Tuolomne already.)
WBraun

climber
Dec 18, 2018 - 04:53pm PT
Also pay attention to the Raptor Closures for classics like the rostrum this time of year.

St00pid bird has no sense to stay away from cliffs climbers climb on.

Those cliffs should be closed to raptors and penalized if they chose to go there.

The penalty is very severe :-)
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Dec 18, 2018 - 09:35pm PT
Honestly speaking, Yosemite is wonderful in all her seasons. You just have to be open to whatever that brings.

Unlike what moosedrool asserted, in the rain it can be fun to climb on moderates, or use it as a recon day to figure out the approach to a climb, or look for classics that stay dry because they are sheltered by overhangs (Leaning Tower, base of El Cap).

My least favorite time is the hot summer with crowds. But you can easily avoid crowds by picking a more obscure objective, and then itís always wonderful when you get off the deck.

Spring is a special time with all the waterfalls of course, and it can make for a memorable trip up Royal Arches. Bring your snorkel! ;)


edit: If you have a short time window in spring and want the most climbing opportunity, go for later season to get more daylight. It seems like the waterfalls get more raging later in the spring too, which might impact climbs you have on your radar or might just make it more awesome to see nearby. If there is a heatwave, just do stuff on the south side (north facing).
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Dec 18, 2018 - 09:53pm PT
I cannot resist.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And climbers for to seken straunge strondes...
--Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Lembert Domini
seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 21, 2018 - 06:18am PT
May is starting to get hot. If not early in the month certainly by month's end.

If you come in May, you might be able to climb up in the high country of Tuolumne, depending on how much snow there is and when HY 120 opens.

Can anyone give a sense of when the road to the high country opens?

Also, when does the season start at the Needles - is late May too early there?
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Dec 21, 2018 - 12:41pm PT
They seem to shoot for Memorial Day weekend, this year that's Monday, May 27 2019. But really it depends on the snow pack.
seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 24, 2018 - 11:54am PT
Thanks for the info!
seankenny

Trad climber
London, England
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2019 - 03:40am PT
Same for Needles, more or less...really the most experienced among us don't plan on counting on anything and see what is happening when the time comes...between the desert southwest USA, Bishop and east side of Sierras all the way to the Sierra Alpine there is always a place where the weather is perfect in the spring with worth objectives abounding.

Just pick your dates and commit to going where the weather is perfect for you.

Pretty much my plan should the weather get too hot in the Valley! I've already climbed in Tuolomne, a bit around the east side (Rock Creek, Patricia Bowl, ORG), a little bit at Tahoe. The Needles is on the list because it's world famous and everyone who's been says it's one of the best places they've ever visited (just why no guidebook tho?!).

Are there any other places in the Sierras really worth visiting but a bit leftfield? I'm sure there are heaps.
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