The Sacramento Bee: “‘Yosemite just comes alive in the spring,’ says Dave Bengston, 44, who has climbed El Capitan 48 times and logged over 1,000 hours on Yosemite rock. ‘All the plants and animals are moving into the growing season. Although there can still be a bit of water on the north-facing cliffs, there’s such a wealth of wonderful dependable rock and spectacular spots to climb throughout the valley.’
Bengston is director of the Yosemite Mountaineering School. Founded in 1969 and run by the Yosemite Concession Services Corporation, the mountain-climbing school offers one-to multi-day climbing courses out of Camp Curry and Tuolumne Meadows.
For the basic rock climbing class the first couple of hours are spent going over the fundamentals, while the rest of the day is devoted to bouldering and rappelling at Swan Slab, one of the many climbing sites used by YMS in the valley area.
‘Although there are aspects of climbing that are unforgiving, if you know how to do it well, and learn proper techniques, it’s a reasonably safe sport and one that doesn’t have to be just for young people,’ said Bengston, whose school hosts over 4,000 students from May to September.
Besides the school’s ‘Go Climb A Rock’ beginner course, other classes taught include crack climbing, anchoring, leading multi-pitch climbs, self-rescue and aid climbing. Classes meet daily and run a full day. Other curriculums include big-wall climbing, ice climbing and high-country travel.
Guided climbs, guided hikes, backcountry trips and private lessons are also available.
‘July and August are peak days where reservations are essential, particularly on weekends’ Bengston said. ‘This time of year, the crowds are low and things aren’t as hurried. It’s a wonderful time to visit Yosemite.'”