Yosemite National Park – The Valley

I’ve been coming and going from Yosemite for a long time. Yosemite Valley (and the balance of the park that surrounds it) is in a class by itself – first, for its spectacular granite architecture, and then for its waterfalls, rivers, meadows, trees and so much more.


Left to right: Royal Arches, Washington Column and Half Dome. 4X5 photo, mid-60s.

I first visited Yosemite in 1955, when my parents, myself and my Aunt Etta did a 6 week-long tour of the western US, primarily to see the National Parks. I was 15 at the time, and the magnificence of the parks made such an impression on me as to determine the course of the rest of my life.

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At the Wawona Tree. Myself, and my Mom at the wheel. 1955.

I returned to Yosemite Valley in 1960. I had become a climber that summer, and learned that “The Valley” was a climbing mecca.


Climbing on the Royal Arches, with Pete Lev. Early 60s.


Postcard to my folks, showing my climb on Yosemite Point Buttress. Early 60s.

I spent many weeks and months in the Valley during the early 60s, after having started, and then stopped, my college education (at UC-Berkeley) in 1959. I became a ski and climbing bum, traveling throughout the western US and abroad. In 1966, I married Karen Holdaway and returned to UC-Berkeley. This put me, again, in the vicinity of Yosemite.


Snow climb on Sentinel Rock, early 60s. View to the east, with the snow-covered Clouds Rest Peak in the center, and Half Dome on the right.


Same, view to the west, with the Cathedral Rocks on the left and El Capitan on the right


Postcard to my folks, showing climb of the Southwest Face of Half Dome, early 60s


Cathedral Spires, in a smokey haze. Fall, 2019

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Me, climbing Higher Cathedral Spire. Photo by my climbing partner (and later National Geographic photographer), David Hiser. 1964


Middle Cathedral Rock, in a smokey haze. Fall 2019. Behind the trees on the left is the East Buttress route, which I climbed with Joe Faint in the mid-60s.

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Climbers, on the Direct route of Reed Pinnacle. The standard route on Reed Pinnacle was my last Valley climb, Spring 1966.

My last climb in the Valley was on the standard route of Reed Pinnacle, in the company of Jim Bridwell and Kim Schmitz. I tell that story in another post: https://believesteve.org/2016/05/12/reed-pinnacle-my-last-climb-in-yosemite-valley-spring-1966/

The Associated Students at UC-Berkeley (ASUC) ran a top-notch photo lab, staffed by the published professionals Dave Bohn and Roger Minich. The teaching emphasis was on the West Coast tradition, best exemplified by Ansel Adams. So, I returned to Yosemite with a 4X5 camera.


Lost Arrow and Yosemite Point Buttress, mid-1960s


Left to right: Cathedral Rocks, Bridalveil Falls drainage and Leaning Tower


Merced River in the foreground, with, left to right: El Capitan, Clouds Rest Peak, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock and Lower Cathedral Rock



At the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. Sentinel Rock is seen on the left. Mid-60s.


At the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, mid-60s


Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s


Potholes, Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s


Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, mid-60s

35mm photos, 1960s.


Merced River, winter, early 60s


Vernal Falls, early 60s


Snow-covered benches, early 60s


Deer, early 60s


Merced River and maples, early 60s

El Capitan, 1990.


North America Wall


The Nose and the Dawn Wall


The Nose sits in the center of this vast expanse of vertical granite

Yosemite Point Buttress, 1990.


Lost Arrow and Yosemite Point Buttress

Vernal Falls, 1990


Vernal Falls, ’90


Vernal Falls, ’90

Merced River in winter (photos interpreted with Topaz Simplify).



Camp 4, early 60s.


Maya, with dogwood blossoms


Columbia Rock, with Gary Colliver (left) and Jeff Foote (right)


Columbia Rock, with Jeff Foote


Camp 4 scene


Camp 4, with Gary Colliver (left) and Fred Beckey (right)


Camp 4 table


Columbia Rock, Steve Miller. Photo by Karen Miller.

Little Yosemite.

Little Yosemite is the valley of the upper Merced River, located atop Nevada Falls.


Left to right: the backside (south face) of Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Nevada Falls and the entry to Little Yosemite. From vicinity of Glacier Point, 1990.


Sierra juniper and lichen


Silver Apron, Merced River


Silver Apron, Merced River


Steve Miller, fishing in the Merced River, early 60s

Here is the link to the next post – Tenaya Lake:







About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447 I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-salt-river/id12449222822. 2. Coyote Buttes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/coyote-buttes/id1271773201 3. Four Cornered, the Land: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered/id1384038899 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 5. Rio Marañon: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 6. Rio Grande: https://books.apple.com/us/book/rio-grande-new-mexico/id1469126321
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