El Capitan and the Yosemite Valley in Winter, California

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about 3,000 feet (900 m) from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers and BASE jumpers.

The formation was named “El Capitan” by the Mariposa Battalion when it explored the valley in 1851. El Capit├ín (“the captain”, “the chief”) was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as “To-to-kon oo-lah” or “To-tock-ah-noo-lah”. It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific Tribal chief, or simply meant “the chief” or “rock chief”.In modern times, the formation’s name is often contracted to “El Cap”, especially among rock climbers and BASE jumpers.

The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west. For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face; there are many named climbing routes, all of them arduous. For skydivers, the challenge is to achieve sufficient horizontal separation from the sheer granite face before opening their parachutes.

Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The valley is about 8 miles (13 km) long and up to a mile deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. The valley is drained by the Merced River and a multitude of streams and waterfalls including Tenaya, Illilouette, Yosemite and Bridalveil Creeks. Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and is a big attraction especially in the Spring when the water flow is at its peak. The valley is renowned for its natural beauty, and is widely regarded as the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors from around the world.

The Valley is the main attraction in the park for the majority of visitors, and a bustling hub of activity during “tourist season” in the summer months. On July 2, 2011 there was a record 20,851 visitors to the valley.

Most visitors enter the valley from roads to the west and pass through the famous Tunnel View entrance. Visitor facilities are located in the center of the valley. There are both hiking trail loops that stay within the valley and trailheads that lead to higher elevations, all of which afford glimpses of the park’s many scenic wonders.

El Capitan and the Yosemite Valley in Winter, California

Gary Neil Corbett is a 62 year old Canadian photographer based in Nova Scotia. He became a student of the camera in the late 1950s and early 60s using a Kodak Brownie as a child. Later in university he studied art and photography and was active in the photography club. He used cameras while pursuing a degree in Biology and later became a Wildlife Biologist. Largely self-taught, Gary has almost 50 years of experience in photography. He contributes to four stock agencies and his work has been published all over the world in advertising, editorial, packaging, fine art prints and other media. For most of his career he shot film but today uses mostly digital single lens reflex cameras and photoshop computer software. He likes being able to instantly see the results of his work and make adjustments on location until he is satisfied with the end product. His approach to photography is to develop a concept or an idea and then go into the field to find the elements he needs to put the concept together into a photographic image.

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