SPECIAL Edition ElCap Report 8/11/13

By Tom Evans

It is midsummer and I have been having an enjoyable time.  I have done some travelling and am presently visiting my son and his family in Phoenix.  However this report has nothing to do with those things.  After reading comments and responses written here and elsewhere, I feel the need to clarify some things and have rewritten my original report.  Once again I have edited some of my previous writings, as they were of a personal nature and I don't think they belong on the Report in the long term. The Report is a kind of history of Yosemite climbing and should only contain matters related to climbing.

This past climbing season, NPS decided to enforce some regulations that, in the past, have been ignored.  In the past I had, for the most part, no direction by anyone, and was able to work the AACP, photograph ElCap climbers and write the ElCap Report as I liked.  Unlike years past, regulations are no longer being ignored and this has made it difficult for me to volunteer at the Bridge, write the ElCap Report, and photograph climbers on ElCap.  Turns out there are legal issues that cause a conflict between being able to write the report as I wish and working at the Bridge.  The NPS is legally bound by these regulations and are no longer ignoring them.  I had problems with the NPS, this past season, because I was doing business as usual and not as required by regulations.  A few days ago I was presented with a contract that, for the first time, actually spelled out what I was required, by law to do.  To volunteer or be employed we are required to sign these conditions of employment.  I studied the contract and realized that, for me, the requirements were just too limiting.  The NPS has every right state their conditions of employment and one can either accept them and work, or decline and not work.  The NPS are not being "bad guys" or unreasonable here. 


While I have really enjoyed working for the “Ask A Climber” program for these many years, the situation has become difficult for me and the NPS and I must make a choice between volunteering at the Bridge and keeping uncensored control of my website and possession of my own work.  These and other concerns have make me decide to resign from any working association with the NPS and the Yosemite Conservancy.  While I have had rewarding experiences with both organizations, and wish them the very best, I think this is the right course of action for all concerned.  My departure solves these concerns for me and the NPS.  I have been treated extremely well by the NPS over the years and have made many friends among its employees and have absolutely no negative feelings toward them in this matter.  So please take the situation for what it is.  I am the problem, not the NPS.  So... Haters need not hate here!!


I have been fortunate, in the past, to have the full support of Ken Yager and the Yosemite Climbing Association.  I couldn’t have been here without Kens support.  Thanks Ken!!  I would like to thank our Climbing Ranger, Jesse McGahey, for his integrity, friendship, and hard work for the climbing community.  Plus, the entire YOSAR community has been a positive influence and a pleasure to work with.  Lastly my heartfelt thanks go out to all the readers and supporters of the ElCap Report… you guys make it all happen!


I will be shooting again this fall climbing season, but as a private citizen.  The ElCap report will continue, as always.  While I will not be working with Tourons at the Bridge, I will be shooting around there sometime during most days… so…. Come on out and hang with the Crew!!  See you in early September!

So that’s the way it is, for this Sunday, the 11th day of August, 2013.

Still hanging in there,

Capt. Tom

Sorry to hear this

Tom - I have followed your site - off and on - for a couple of years, since I used it to track my son's first Big Wall climb up Tangerine Trip. You got some great pictures of him. And your piece back then, describing how you almost bought the farm from heat exhustion on what may have been your last climb was particularly good.

The irreverant style has been fun to read and given those of us who stay closer to the ground a sense of the thrill the climbers experience on El Cap

Best of luck in whatever comes your way.

Big Z

Unfortunate but predictable


your recent experience enjoins you in some fine company - those who've run afoul or otherwise been let down by the NPS version of The Man...

shortly after i met with a somewhat unceremonious ejection from the perfection of Yosemite, i ran into local legend ron kauk at the post office. i had casually come to know him and knew he had been on all the various sides of the Yosemite fence. now though, he seemed to have found some kind of sweet spot. he smiled, looked at me calmly and said... "hey, man i heard you got into some trouble. Way to go. Good job."

That was it and it said it all. A few simple words from someone who understood was good medicine.

so for us who've appreciated the dedication, enjoyed your contributions, worn smelly yellow shirts, and shared a cat hair laden small office with you... "Good Job".

Rare is the animal that survives the YNP environment with dignity and professional integrity intact. It is not an arena that rewards the qualities it would seem designed to protect. I hope this sorts itself out and you can feel welcomed again.


Yo're awesome Tom.

Thanks so much for the ElCap Report. Hope to meet you some day.

Hope the best to you and yours

Thank you for the work that you have done. It is appreciated by many. I find this interesting. I know a half dozen people now that have left voluteer programs do to a lack of free speech. Before leaving their positions everyone of them at one time or another were "talked to" for saying what they thought was right vs what the park system wanted them to say.

I find it a bit alarming how much free work or parks system is loosing do to people leaving so they can maintain some form of free speech.

Thank you !

Thank you for all your volunteer work, it was very inspiring to me and many other climbers, I bet.

I have enjoyed living in California for the past 6 years but I do find my personal freedoms trampled on in the US infinitely more than any other civilized country I have lived in ! It is sad.

keep rocking Tom!!

hi Capt. Tom,
Just keep on behind the cameras and felling the freedom!!!

thank you for making it happen!!

nacho & majo (the argentine couple_last june on the nose + party guys_ coming after the guys who spend the "longest time to pass the kingSwing ever) jajaja


Hey nacho and Majo! Hope all is well with you. Miss our time up on the nose. Ill be back for a push on the captain this sept! Hope to see and drink beer with the bumbling old man with the cameras. Thanks for all your effort over the years Tom. It is appreciated!
Justin "love dad" team june2013

hy Tom! thanks for keep going

hy Tom!

thanks for keep going on.
The El Cap Report is my most importend and also most visited climbing webpage :)

see you in sep. on the bridge
all the best

Stefan Brunner

Sorry to see you go.

Tom, Classy move for the Man. All of your work/art is much appreciated. Hope to see you in October. All the best. Jeremy Aslaksen ABQ, NM


Is volunteer the right word? I didn't think volunteer's got paid. Right?

NPS considers us volunteers whether we are paid or not. Volunteers do get paid a small fee for each day they work. The Bridge is more complicated but still under NPS even though they don't provide the funds for the AACP. The conservancy pays the bills. The YCA does the work and the NPS does the regulation.

No Surprise There

Hey Tom --

Not a surprise -- bureaucracy at its best!! Am hoping to see you in October when Jeremy and I are there. All the best regardless of the outcome!!


Thank You Tom!

Thank You for your service sir. I look forward to reading in the Fall.

Hyung.. Private citizen? from


Private citizen? from Captain to Private? Demotion? I DON'T THINK SO...MORE FREE....