Snow CampProbably Feb. 7 - 9, 2014, arrive Friday, leave Sunday, the TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL Yosemite Valley Winter Camping trip.
This trip can have more attendance than any other trip of the year.
(First photo below courtesy of the park service.)
Because we are in a campground with heated restrooms, showers nearby, restaurants to bail to if cooking out doesn't work, and a 24 hour emergency clinic a mile away, this isn't a true wilderness adventure.
But we have had someone on almost every trip who has never been in the snow or never been camping before (or even both),
so for them it meets all definitions of an adventure.
The new friends in these group photos at the end of previous winter Yosemite trips were mostly strangers when the trip started.
There is a bigger copy of the 2004 group photo at:
Yosemite winter 2004 camping trip
2005: February 2005 Yosemite camping
2006: De Anza College Outdoor Club Yosemite winter trip 2006
Oops, no group photo: De Anza Outdoor Club Yosemite snow camp 2008
2009: De Anza winter Yosemite trip 2009
2010: De Anza Outdoor Club Yosemite winter trip 2010
2011: De Anza College Outdoor Club winter Yosemite trip 2011
Who's going? / How Much?
Most people sign up much closer to the trip date, but as an example, for the 2007 trip:
Rose, Michael, Somayeh, Shannon, Keith, Thuy-Duong, Dinh, Bhavishya, Hoda, John, Suzy, Sandi, Tiffany, Mona, Maryam, Sandeep, Joe, Pradeep, Jessica, Manoj, Yvonne, Chance, Philip, Catherine, Iain, Aaron, Howard, Alice, Eileen, Edgar, Mike, Tamara, Alan and Mary.
Our ages were 12, 18, 18, 19, 19, 21, 22, 22, 25, 25, 26 26, 27, 27, 27, 28, 28, 28, 28, 29, 30, 31, 31, 34, 36, 36, 40, 42, 56, 58, 58 and 62.
Eight had been on the trip before. Four had never been camping and two of them had never seen snow. Three of us were Red Cross first aid/cpr instructors.
Hordes of others said they were going but did not sign up.
You don't have to be a club member to go camping with us, just a De Anza student (or most faculty/staff), but members pay less for club events. Membership is $15 or $30 for 365 days. ($15 if you already have all the camping equipment you need, $30 if you want to rent a bunch of gear for club trips from us.) Reasons why you should become a member are at: Membership benefits
The price for the 2014 trip might be the same as 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 as little as $10 if you are a club member and carpool in a large carpool. (Subtract three dollars if you sign up fall quarter.) Go to Outdoor Club Coming Attractions for the whole cost breakdown including the price for people driving by themselves or in small carpools.
How to do it info:
For a list of required equipment (and another list of the things you will really wish you had) as well as menu advice, and a discussion of what to look for in long-johns, fabrics and rain gear, go to: Snow or rain camp must-haves To go on our trip you must read the must haves list and follow it. On a budget? We do shopping surveys and list the cheapest places to buy the needed gear, often at half the price of higher priced camping gear stores, as well as rentals of boots, jackets and sleeping bags.
How many people can you fit in an eight person tent?
For info on the logistics of where to pitch your tent, dealing with iced car door locks, staying warm and comfy overnight and more, go to: First-timer's instructions.
This National Park Service photo shows a coyote going after a meal under the snow. There WILL BE coyotes and raccoons, if not bears, in the campground. We've seen them every time of the day and night and heard them singing overnight. People on previous trips have made lots of mistakes about food storage and dealing with animals. PLUS When any De Anza club camps as a group we face this problem: Someone in a nearby campsite
will expect the worst (noise, etc.) from an obviously college-age group. And they will be quick
to complain about any rule infraction (some of which carry heavy fines). To go on our trip you must read A problem and its solution
We could have 1 1/2 foot deep snow in the campground or very-early-spring type weather with only a little snow on the ground. We could have to deal with the Mono winds. You might encounter hazards on trails. To go on this trip you must read: Snow camp weather, hike safety and first aid considerations
What is there to do on this trip?
On Saturday, some people on this trip will take the free bus to the ski resort to snowboard, ski or snowshoe. They offer snowboard or ski (downhill or cross-country) lessons/rentals at the resort and a Ranger guided snowshoe walk. Most years, depending on snow pack on the trails, usually more people will do a major hike, like the one to the top of or the base of upper Yosemite Falls. (There's a different free bus to the trailhead.) Others will do a few short hikes or a Ranger nature or history walk, photo walk with a professional photographer or go ice skating. (Free bus to those places, too.) Some will try to fit in working on a term paper on a laptop.
Yosemite Falls Hike
Below is a Park Service photo of upper Yosemite Falls with the winter snow cone at its base. The potential Saturday hike, if the trail is clear enough, can get us quite close for photos.
The hike part way, to an overlook at Columbia Rock, is 2 miles round trip with a 1,000 foot elevation gain and is often quite clear of snow. The hike to the top is 7.2 miles round trip with a 2,700 foot elevation gain. You can hike any distance you choose, as long as you stay with a group.
The section of the upper Yosemite Falls trail near the top, as shown below, has a lot of snow some years, which is part of the reason we expect people to hike in groups of four or more if they go above the valley floor. That way if someone gets into trouble, there is someone to stay with them while two others go back for help. The Park Service has reported about people who went off trail on the Yosemite falls hike, went to an unsafe area and died. Did you read Snow camp weather, hike safety and first aid considerations?
More pictures of this hike are at Upper Yosemite Fall hike.
There are nearly 350 miles of cross-country skiable trails and roads in Yosemite including 25 miles of machine groomed track and 90 miles of marked trails (no fee) that begin at Badger Pass. Very near Badger Pass there are some relatively short trails to scenic points and some nearly level machine groomed track for beginners. The road to Glacier Point is groomed for cross country skiing in the winter. The mileages from Badger Pass are:
Summit Meadow, 1 mi. (There is usually an operational outhouse there.)
Bridalveil Campground, 2.8 mi.
Bridalveil Creek, 3.3 mi.
Ostrander Trailhead, 4.1-4.5 mi.
Clark Range View, 5.7 mi.
Sentinel Dome, 9.2 mi.
Glacier Point, 10.5 mi.
Only very experienced skiers should attempt the route to Glacier Point.
Signed winter trails (no fee) are also available at Crane Flat, in the backcountry and among the Giant Sequoias of the Mariposa Grove.
Brochures (including maps) of cross country ski and snowshoe winter trails are available as PDF files: (200-500 kb in size).
Badger Pass and along the Glacier Point Road
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Crane Flat area
Links to Badger pass downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and tubing start at:
The two terrain parks have boxes, rails, rollers and big-air jumps.
Lift tickets for 2012-13:
Adult (over 17) all day $42, half day $32.50
Senior (65 and older) all day $37, half day $30 (free midweek non-holiday)
one ride ticket $5
From the website: "Veterans and active duty military personel receive a free lift ticket, free equipment rental and group lesson every day... present your military ID at the badger pass activities desk." http://www.yosemitepark.com/badger-military-discount.aspx
AAA discounts available
Lifts operate from 9am to 4pm (Half-Day is noon to 4pm)
Call 1 (209) 372-1000 for ski conditions.
Guaranteed learn to ski/snowboard lessons with rentals $85.
Sunday, Feb. 3, after we pack up the campsite, they offer a free lift ticket plus half off rentals or a half off group ski lesson to anyone with a college student photo ID.
Snowboarding photo by Ernie Moreno. Fallen skier by Robert Campbell.
If you want to rent downhill or snowboard gear you might want to rent it at the Yosemite resort. If you rent gear at home before the trip it could be a waste of money if a storm closes the road to the resort, shuts down power to the ski lifts, closes the resort completely or you decide that a big hike that day would be more fun.
Snowshoe walk with a Ranger
Conditions permitting, the rangers offer a cheap (suggested $5 donation for snowshoe use) daily snowshoe walk (moderate to strenuous) with a Ranger naturalist which meets at the Badger Pass Ranger office A-frame. As of 2012-13 it was scheduled from 10:30 to 12:30. (Please don't confuse this with the snowshoe walk sometimes offered by the Yosemite concessioneer, at a higher price, with signups in advance required.)
(Photos below by Monica Colmenares and Richard Neimrec.)
Free bus to skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing
Road and weather conditions permitting, the free bus to the ski resort for the snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding leaves Curry Village (two blocks from the campground) at (2012-13) 8:05 a.m. and 10:35 a.m. (and makes stops at various hotels: Yosemite Village 8:10 and 10:40, Ahwahnee 8:15 and 10:45, Yosemite Lodge 8:30 and 11) arrives at Badger pass 9:30 and 12:05 and returns from the ski resort at 2 and 4:30 p.m. arriving at Curry Village (again about two blocks from the campground) at 3:00 and 5:30. Confirm the return times when you get there. Allow at least one hour from the last pickup stop to get to Badger Pass; one hour for the return to Curry.
In Yosemite Valley
A free shuttle bus (a different one than the ski/snowshoe walk bus) goes to 17 stops (to stores, restaurants, visitor center, trailheads) in the valley in the winter (2012-13) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (but check the timetable at each stop) at 10 to 20 to 30 minute intervals. The route, stops and how to find the store, shower house, etc. are at: Yosemite Valley free shuttle bus
Visitor Center and bookstore 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The film Spirit of Yosemite plays in the theater behind the main building. (2012-13 - Mon.- Sat. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4:30.) This is a great visitor orientation film with some swooping aerial views along with history and scenes from all seasons and all parts of the park. Free.
The Yosemite Museum (2012-13) is usually open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., may close for lunch.
Ice skating info is at:
(1(209)372-8341) Usually more sessions on Saturday and Sunday than on weekdays.
photo below by who?
The Ansel Adams gallery has free photo walks with a professional photographer, weather permitting, at 9 a.m. for 1 1/2 hours Saturdays (2013). Both digital and traditional formats welcome. Usually limited to 12 or 15 people. Sign up in advance at the gallery, or sometimes they accept phone reservations, but often they do not take reservations until three or four days in advance. Check with them for the current details. 209 372-4413.
see also: Yosemite winter photos
There are more than 12 miles of surfaced bike paths on the valley floor and the weather is sometimes good enough to ride or rollerblade. A map of bike paths is at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/biking.htm
Listen to the snow fall, listen to coyotes sing, make snow angels...
Yosemite Today / Yosemite Guide newspaper has lots of safety info, a calendar of park activities including Ranger walks, and hours of operation for visitor centers and museums.
Early 2013 these ranger walks meet at 2 p.m. for 1 1/2 hours:
Friday: Wild About Wildlife, meet in front of the main visitor center
Saturday: Merced Meander, meet at shuttle stop 5
Sunday: Bears meet at shuttle stop 6
Evening programs 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (check local postings for topic and location)
The Yosemite Guide newspaper has hours of operation for tours, stores (early 2013 from 8 a.m. to 6, 7 or 8 p.m.), food service (early 2013 from 6:30 or 7 a.m. to 7:30 or 9 or 11 p.m.), post office, laundromat (early 2013, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Housekeeping Camp), showers (early 2013, 24 hours at Curry Village), auto service, gas stations (no gas stations in Yosemite valley, fill up before you come into the park, or drive 30 minutes to Crane Flat and hope the self-service pumps are in order) and more.
Evenings are spent playing guitar and gossiping around the campfire, playing charades and board games, working on a term paper, skating at the ice rink, if there is enough snow finishing an igloo and sometimes taking night hikes. If it's slippery footing on a night hike, and it probably will be, people often night hike arm-in-arm in groups of four or five.
If it is not cloudy we can see a lot more stars than at home. For the 2013 trip there will be a waning gibbous moon, 69% to 58%, rising late at night during our trip.
(first four photos below by Colin Underwood.)
This girl was caught studying in the restroom at 5 a.m. on one of our Yosemite winter trips. Why in the restroom? Because it's heated in the winter and you can save on flashlight batteries. At 5 a.m. it's quiet except for the coyotes she heard howling in the distance. Lots of people study on our trips, bringing homework, projects and even laptops. Some study in cars on the way to and from the trip. This might not be as effective as studying at home, but you've got to get away and have fun sometime!
Sunday after we pack up many people get cleaned up and go to the Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee hotel: Outdoor Club winter campers at brunch You will need nice clothes for this. At least Friday casual, but some ladies in our group get quite dressed up.
(There is a shower house a short walk (or one bus stop away on the free bus system) from the campground. And in the winter they usually don't have anyone at the door asking for money.)
What if it storms so much they close the road to the ski resort? We won't be able to ski, go on the ranger snowshoe walk or take one of the long hikes.
Will there be anything to do except hide in the car, play cards at the laundromat or go online at Degnan's Deli (for a fee)?
The answers are at: Things to do during a Yosemite snow storm besides hiding in your tent
The club can't arrange rides, but people going on our Yosemite road trip have various options of how to get there. For ideas, driving directions and a few pictures of what you will see along the way go to: Snow camp carpools and driving directions
Prepare for winter driving has a link to bad weather driving tips, tips for using tire chains, tricks for dealing with frozen car locks, how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving, how to de-fog the windows, a winter survival kit for your car and what to do if you get stranded. Don't have chains? Try: Snow chain rentals
Safe driving in rain and fog
For the answer to the question:
How do I convince my parent(s)/guardian that I can go on this trip? or How do I convince them to pay for some gear for the trip?
Go to: Snow camp FAQs
Road trip advice and etiquette could make the drive more fun.
How can I sign up for this trip?
The Outdoor Club has a good reputation with Risk Management and they let us do adventurous trips like this one as a result. The club wants to keep that reputation and wants the trip to be safe and fun. You will need to read most of the links from this page about safety and take a written test before you can sign up for the trip. Sample test questions and a few of the answers are at: Snow camp pre-test sample questions
We got tired of people who brought useless rain gear on previous trips. We had to dress them in plastic leaf bags:
So you will need to show us your rain gear when you sign up for this trip. We will not accept a rain poncho. We will not accept thin, easily torn temporary rain gear like they sell at airports for emergencies.
Go to: Snow or rain camp must-haves for details and ideas for people on a budget.
You'll need to fill out and sign a release for each Outdoor Club off campus event you sign up for; you can print one in advance at release form.
Club members can rent club-owned equipment for trips Membership is $15 for 365 days, or if you want cheap rentals, $30. Reasons why you should become a member are at: Membership benefits
Equipment rentals will go much more smoothly if you have read the Outdoor Club Sample Rental Agreement
LAST CHANCES TO SIGN UP FOR THE 2013 YOSEMITE TRIP...
At a table in the main quad for Club Day, Thursday, Jan. 24, at least 11 to 1 p.m., but maybe starting at 8 a.m. (Rain cancels Club Day, but we intend to be there anyway.)
At the east end of the Stelling parking structure at the pre-trip meeting/equipment rentals and world's ugliest long-johns contest, Friday, Jan. 25, 6 p.m. to 7 or 8 p.m.
But we suggest getting signed up earlier.
How/when/where to find us to sign up is at: Outdoor Club Coming Attractions
When camping with a large group of people some complain there is not enough room in their shared bear box for all their food.
More things could fit in the campite bear-proof storage lockers if everyone brought smaller containers of food, etc.
NO!→ ← Yes!!
and if everyone brought their gear in small, deep plastic trash cans or other plastic boxes close to, but no more than, 17 inches tall. A typical bedroom waste receptacle could be 9" by 12" by 17" deep and hold quite a few cans of food, cooking items and toiletry bags. If you've never shared bear boxes with a big group, read
Using a campsite food storage locker
Yikes! Does this trip info have too many webpages? Can't remember where the info you need is? Go to: Yosemite trips index
Below, a NPS photo of Half Dome cloaked in snow on Jan. 5, 2005, and a picture taken near our campground at sunset by Mike Rivers and another with alpenglow January 2011:
Summer of 2012 some visitors to Curry Village in Yosemite contracted hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and some of them died. According to the park service, "Since HPS was first identified in 1993, there have been approximately 60 cases in California residents and 602 cases nationally. Nationwide, approximately 12 percent of deer mice carry hantavirus." And deer mice live in every state.
Hantavirus frequently asked questions are at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hantafaq.htm
Advice there includes not sleeping on the bare ground, but instead in a tent, and keeping all food, even items in the bear boxes, in tightly sealed containers.
In the NPS photo of flooded Sentinel Meadow taken May 16, 2005, you can just make out the sunken edge of the boardwalk across the meadow between the two posts on the fence and can just see Yosemite Falls thru the low clouds in the background. Next to it is the same place in June, 2005 and again in February 2008
see: Yosemite Falls view in February snow and other seasons
Yosemite webcams brought to you by the Yosemite Conservancy, a non-profit park support group:
For a laugh, and to help insure you won't become an entry on the page, read Camping Blunders
There's easy camping info at: Have more fun camping
The entire text of The Yosemite by John Muir is at:
Favorite chapters for winter trip reading include:
Winter Storms and Spring Floods
Yosemite Valley is an attempt to show the dramatic scale of the depth and width of the valley through pictures of Yosemite Falls.
How much water will there be in the Yosemite waterfalls?
Yosemite nature podcasts: http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/ynn.htm
episode #5 is snow, #2 is Yosemite Falls
Yosemite nature and photography links has links to photo tips, geology, birding and wildflowers (well, okay, no wildflowers in the winter, but...) info.
Yosemite trips index
Answers to most questions about how the De Anza Outdoor club works are at: Outdoor Club Basic Info The main rules common to most of our trips, including who is eligible to go, are at: Outdoor Club trip rules.
two photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
Valley View (seen on the way out of Yosemite Valley) panorama spring and winter: