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Camp 4 Listed With National Register of Historic Places


by Editor

March 27, 2003

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

Camp 4 (the real one - not this web site silly!), the walk-in campground in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, was listed with the National Register of Historic Places on February 21, 2003. This campground, traditionally used by climbers, has been instrumental in the development of rock climbing as a sport. This marks a successful collaboration between the National Park Service and the climbing community who have worked together for this designation. In the nomination to the National Register, Camp 4's eligibility for listing is at the national level under Criterion A in the area of Recreation/Entertainment for its significant association with the growth and development of rock climbing in the Yosemite Valley during the "golden years" of pioneer mountaineering. During the period 1947 to 1970, the Yosemite Valley region was an exceptionally important center of rock climbing activity. Activities and technological advancements and skills developed here made significant contributions at the regional, national and international level within the sport. World-renowned climbers such as Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, and Yvon Chouinard, were among the pioneers of this sport who developed equipment, techniques, and forged new routes in Yosemite, considered a mecca for rock climbers. They used Camp 4 as a base camp.

Camp 4 was a pivotal element within mountaineering and rock climbing activity in the park. Within the mountaineering community knowledge, skills, and philosophical concepts were largely passed on through word of mouth and hands-on climbing activity among active participants. Few if any documented manuals or written guidebooks were available to guide early aspiring climbers. As a result, the campgrounds and base camps at important climbing locations achieved important roles beyond just the provision of overnight accommodations. They served as vital meeting grounds for participants and significant focal points for training activities, ascent planning, distribution of information and equipment, and the comradeship and esprit-de-corps that defined the early days and history of the movement. Camp 4 remains significant in the context of modern mountaineering and rock climbing. "What makes this dusty little campground so historic and unique is its freewheeling, dynamic spirit and the people drawn to it over the decades. Camp 4's spirit epitomizes the spirit of the American West--restless, unconventional, inventive, and filled with hope.

Yosemite continues to offer new frontiers for the pioneers and explorers of its vertical walls," said Linda McMillan, Vice President of the American Alpine Club. The designation grew out of a partnership that was developed between the American Alpine Club, representing rock climbers, and Yosemite National Park. Climbers were concerned with National Park Service plans to construct employee housing lost in the 1997 Flood in Camp 4 and the vicinity. The climbing community argued that Camp 4 had historic significance."The nomination of Camp 4 evolved into a cooperative effort between the climbing community and the National Park Service," said Russell Galipeau, Chief of Resource Management for Yosemite National Park. " It was the climbing community that mobilized and helped the National Park Service see the history and significance of climbing and Camp 4 in Yosemite National Park."

Yosemite National Park and the American Alpine Club have worked together to understand each other and find solutions that meet mutual needs."The entry of Camp 4 to the National Register of Historic Places will stand as an enduring testament to the power of public/private partnerships," said McMillan. " It's an extraordinary example of what people with very different perspectives can achieve by using a process dedicated to respect and mutual success. Contention gave way to collaboration, and a treasured relationship was forged."

National Park Service

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