Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Outside Explores Yosemite's Rebel Culture

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Yosemite National Park is one of the best outdoor playgrounds on the planet. It offers visitors spectacular hiking, amazing backcountry backpacking, and perhaps the best rock climbing in the entire world. Over the years, it has been a gathering point for some of the most influential personalities in the outdoor community, and it remains a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts from across the globe.

For decades, Yosemite has also been the epicenter of an adventure-fueled counter-culture revolution in the U.S.. In the 60's it was led by men such as Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard, and their spirit can still be felt in the valley today. Those men adopted a simple life, living out of their tents and vans, while climbing everything the park had to offer, gaining a deep seated love and respect for the environment in the process. That spirit still exists in Yosemite today, although it is taking on forms that those outdoor legends may not even recognize.

That's the basis of a new story from Outside magazine that was posted on Outside Online a few days ago. Spurred on by the new documentary, Valley Uprising by Sender Films (due out this fall), the article takes a look at the "rebel" culture that developed in and around Yosemite over the past 50 years. In the 60's that culture involved "hippy" climbers invading Yosemite Valley to climb its iconic walls. That eventually led to clashes with the park rangers, and resentments that lasted for years.

Today, the spirit of rebellion is still alive and well in Yosemite, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary since being granted protected status (it wouldn't actually become a national park until 1890).  Many of the men and women who climb in the park cast large shadows over the culture that is evolving there now. Guys like Alex Honnold, who has a huge following amongst the community there. But BASE jumpers and wingsuit pilots are also carving their own niche, and they have brought a rebellious nature that is both shared, and different from that which was born in the valley in the past.

Outside's article serves as a nice primer for the arrival of Valley Uprising, and it will probably make you want to see the film even more. The story closes by sharing brief bios of some of the important figures from Yosemite's past, helping readers to understand their importance on the culture that has grown up there.

It's a fun read and definitely worth a look. Check out the trailer for Valley Uprising below.

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