I don't need to say what Yosemite means in the history of climbing. If I had to guess, I'd say Hillary and Norgay's ascent of Everest as the top climbing achievement in history. From there, I'd have to say the opening up of the big walls in Yosemite as just as important in terms of developing the sport. Certainly, the climbing in Yosemite is rock, and that is different from mountaineering. The two have grown in separate directions under the same auspices of "climbing", but without the early years in Yosemite, rock climbing would not nearly be as popular is it today. Not only are the climbs legendary, but so is the modern-day equipment that was developed as a result. Even mountaineering has developed as a result of the mechanical progress made on El Cap and Half Dome.
On top of that is the history of climbing ethics, as well. Certainly grade difficulty and specific routes were at the forefront of achievement, but so was style. In fact, one can probably trace the disgust of the scenes of trash on the slopes of Everest directly to the environmental devotions of John Muir and the pursuit of "leave no trace" ethics championed by Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard (a good Mainer), even before "leave no trace" entered our lexicon. Of course, John Muir was the driving force behind establishing Yosemite and Yellowstone (among other parks) as the first national parks on the planet. Robbins and Chouinard were the major forces behind boltless climbing. Their efforts were momumental then, but are so commonplace today that they are simply accepted as existing. Sure, there are still heated debates over bolting and leaving gear behind, but the branded buckets that folks sit in were defined decades ago in The Valley.
Anyway, so what does all this mean? Well, it means I'm going to have to come up with three new nicknames for the folks I'm travelling out there with: Ratherbe, Orangekayak, and Elron (who already lives in Tahoe). And it means I'm going to have to get ready to climb something big, tall and, hopefully, really freaking scary. God I can't wait!