New Possible Yosemite Guiding Opportunities

Dear AMGA Members and Friends,

Right now, Yosemite National Park is developing a new version of their Wilderness Stewardship Plan, which is the document that directs all activities in 94% of the park, including almost all of the climbing, for the next several decades. The Wilderness Stewardship Plan was last updated in 1989.

The plan is currently open for scoping and solicitation of public comments until Friday of this week – January 29th.

As the leaders of the AMGA, Rob Hess and I are personally reaching out to the AMGA membership today to ask that you take action today on this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Here’s why: Commercial guiding in wilderness is one of the topics under consideration, and there’s interest in the park to open additional access opportunities for guiding. Even if you never plan to guide in the park, decisions in Yosemite are influential and may well impact guiding access in National Parks nationwide.

Rob and I are personally encouraging the AMGA membership to send your comments to the park today. We’ve included content below that you can use to guide you as you write (to create efficiency for you). It would also be ideal it you could share this with key clients so the park can hear input from their perspective as well.

Right now, Yosemite National Park is developing a new version of their Wilderness Stewardship Plan, which is the document that directs all activities in 94% of the park, including almost all of the climbing, for the next several decades. The Wilderness Stewardship Plan was last updated in 1989.

Here’s What You Can Do TODAY:

Here is the link to the public announcement. The form to submit comments is here. For a public comment to be valuable, the comments must be individualized and personalized. That means that copying and pasting is not going to work well.

Below are some general talking points that can help you craft a letter.  If you would like further information on any of these ideas, Wilderness.net is a good resource.

1.  The current system does not provide sufficiently diverse opportunities for visitors who would choose to access Yosemite wilderness with a guide.

2. Modern professional mountain guiding helps realize the formal educational public purpose of wilderness-from the skills training we all provide to guide education programs such as the AMGA.

3.  As rock climbing and mountaineering are not at capacity in Yosemite wilderness, the plan’s analysis of commercial services should reflect that, and should provide for additional diverse opportunities for the guided public.

4.  Modern, trained guides are invested, professional stewards of the land and the wilderness resource.

5.  Additional rock climbing and mountaineering guiding opportunities should be made available in the form of limited, low-ratio Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs) that are reasonable for sole proprietors and small businesses to obtain.

6.  The highest professional terrain-specific credentials should be considered as selection criteria for obtaining a CUA. These provide the highest quantifiable assessment of guide quality and skill, and serve to enhance visitor safety, resource stewardship, and reduction of social impacts. Those credentials are the AMGA Rock Guide, the AMGA Alpine Guide, and the IFMGA Mountain Guide (certified in rock, alpine, and ski mountaineering).Again, please pass this along to your clients-having the park hear from the guided public is equally crucial.

Thank you, sincerely, for taking the time to act today, and for all for your comments in advance.

We can’t emphasize strongly enough how significant this public comment window is to grow the opportunities and visibility of guiding in the United States.

Remember, comments are DUE through this link by January 29th – Friday this week.

NOTE: The AMGA will be emailing our membership a few more times this week to make sure that our request is in front of all our members. Please know that after Friday, our email correspondence will resume its normal cadence. Thank you in advance for helping move the needle in a favorable way for American Guiding!

Thank you,

Rob Hess, President

Alex Kosseff, Executive Director

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7 Comments on “New Possible Yosemite Guiding Opportunities

  1. Can some clarify if this reassessment includes the climbing in Yosemite Valley (in other words where is the wilderness boundary?)?

  2. The Wilderness includes all the longer routes, and almost all of the climbing in Yosemite. The Wilderness boundary lies very close to development and roads in the Valley. For example, even Swan Slabs is in the Wilderness. The base of El Cap is not in Wilderness, but the boundary begins about 400′ up, so this applies to any guiding there. There is a Wilderness map here, but it isn’t very high resolution: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=347&projectID=47112&documentID=69176

  3. I think this is an excellent opportunity to bring Yosemite to more people.

  4. I think it would be a very important step for the Yosemite National Park to incorporate an open policy for guiding in the park that would allow for AMGA guides an opportunity to offer guiding services.

  5. Professional and credentialed guide opportunities are a great way to promote safe access to climbers who will seek out climbing opportunities all over the nation. Yosemite is a unique environment that attracts many tourists and climbers. By providing and allowing more qualified guiding service, the park system is also promoting the safety and passion of mountaineering and conservation mindedness of ecotourism that comes through direct education of clients, the climbing community, and the local community.

  6. My son began climbing in NC at a very young age. No one else in our family climbs, but I decided to let him give it a try because it seemed to fit his strengths. Hiring professional and credentialed guides was the only way we could help him experience this connection with nature and challenge within himself. Since his start in NC, he has gone on the participate in climbing trips in Moab and Colorado Springs. Yosemite is high on the list of places he would like to climb – however, this simply is not possible without ensurance that he is with a guide service. No quote says it better than: “By providing and allowing more qualified guiding service, the park system is also promoting the safety and passion of mountaineering and conservation mindedness of ecotourism that comes through direct education of clients, the climbing community, and the local community.”

    Harvey has grown physically and emotionally through climbing. He sees the world from a different perspective because because of climbing. PLEASE consider supporting opportunities for guiding outfits to share Yosemite with young climbers.

  7. I am writing as a client of Ron Funderburke, and as a climber previously certified as an AMGA single pitch instructor. Now, more than ever, it is critically important that there be an increase in the ways in which the general public can be connected with the planet on which we live. Offering the public the services of qualified, responsible guides who are aware of the positive impact their services stand to make on the park, the public, and the broader issues surrounding environments in which we all live, can definitely help advance the park’s mission(s) and remind the visiting climbers of the incredible resources around us. While I am no longer an active climber, I have been forever changed by the experiences I had – both as a client of guides like Ron, and as a participant in AMGA programs. It is my hope that you will allow more guides to take members of the general public into the park, giving more people ways to connect with each other, and with the natural environments in the park, and more reasons to want to protect areas like Yosemite.

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