Yosemite park sign
(Photo/Melissa MN via Shutterstock)

Yosemite Residents Battle Eviction, We Remember Ranger Betty White, and 4 More Stories to Start Your Week

GearJunkie’s weekly wrap-up of news in adventure and exploration. From the inspiring to the tragic, here’s some of what you missed and a few things to look forward to.

Residents of Yosemite’s El Portal Trailer Court received 90-day eviction notices just in time for the holidays. The residential area has been designated for Yosemite park workers and their families since the 1950s.

Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, confirmed to the Fresno Bee that the park plans to convert the space to a staging area for construction equipment, which would benefit several multimillion-dollar park projects. Those projects are slated for the spring of 2022.

It is unlikely that El Portal residents will receive any compensation or logistical assistance from the Yosemite administration, which has cited eminent domain as legal justification for the maneuver.

And as the world bids farewell to beloved TV legend Betty White, we’re reminded of the actress’s first ambition: to become a forest ranger. But, Betty was always ahead of her time — NPS wouldn’t allow female rangers until 1965. By then, White was 42 and well into her illustrious career.

Nevertheless, the girl from the Sierras spent much of her adult life advocating for wilderness conservation and animal rights. Then, in 2010, at the age of 88, White was named an honorary forest ranger by the U.S. Forest Service.

“Wilderness is getting harder and harder to find these days on our beautiful planet,” White said at the ceremony. “I know this is an honorary position, but it’s also one where I can use a voice to try to protect the remaining beautiful parts of this gorgeous world we live on.”

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In March 2020, tech CEO Zac Bookman attempted to sue Himalayan guide Garrett Madison to the tune of $100,000 for halting a summit attempt on Mount Everest in Sept. 2019. Madison offered a consensus-backed reason for nixing the trip: a 15-story-wide ice block (serac) was on the verge of collapsing onto the route. In fact, the same overhanging serac prevented anyone from summitting Everest in the fall of 2019.

Last week, a judge sided with Madison, stating that he had acted in the best interests of his clients’ safety by calling off the trek. Furthermore, Bookman waived his right to a refund when he signed Madison Mountaineering’s release, which clearly stated that it could not guarantee a summit.

Madison’s win is being hailed as a victory for the guide industry. “The fear of lawsuits and the financial repercussions from lawsuits can lead to injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for clients, guides, Sherpa, and other mountain professionals,” the judgment declares.

A copy of the settlement is available here, courtesy of Outside.

Mount everest climbing group fitted with supplemental oxygen; (photo/S. Damulevicius via Shutterstock)
Mount Everest climbing group fitted with supplemental oxygen; (photo/S. Damulevicius via Shutterstock)

Maybe you thought Adam Ondra was done climbing for 2021 when he redpointed “Taurus” 5.15b 2 days before Christmas. You’d be wrong.

On Dec. 28, just 5 days after the inimitable Czech ticked his third 5.15 for the month, he turned in the first repeat of Stefano Ghisolfi’s brand-new “Lonely Mountain” 5.15b in Arco, Italy. The route, which sits within the uppermost echelon of sport climbing difficulty, took Ondra just 3 days of projecting.

“Lonely Mountain” neighbors another Ghisolfi route, “Erebor” 5.15b, which Ondra heralded as an “amazing power endurance test piece,” after pocketing the third ascent in November.



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A post shared by Adam Ondra (@adam.ondra)

The unseasonable Marshall Fire, which incinerated 1,000 structures and 6,000 acres in Boulder County, Colo., last week, finally went out this weekend. As of Sunday evening, officials had traced the source to a property off Highway 93 and Marshall Road.

Investigators continue their search for two missing persons — a woman living in Superior and a man living near Marshall. Initial estimates indicate that of the scorched buildings, at least 90% were residences.

In the alternate reality that is California, snowfall in the Sierras just broke a 1970 record for December. The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported 214 inches of snow for the month, enough to unseat the 179 inches recorded 51 years ago.

The record powder dump benefits Tahoe ski resorts in particular and puts the region’s seasonal total at 264 inches, 258% of its average snowpack for the date.

Speaking of snow, this week, the FIS World Cup series continues for cross-country, slalom, giant slalom, freeski, nordic, and ski jumping competitors. Races kick off on Jan. 3 with the Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and the men’s Four Hills ski jumping qualifier in Innsbruck, Austria.

For the full schedule and streaming information, check out fis-ski.com.

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.