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Yosemite skiers descend Half Dome in rare, death-defying effort

Jason Torlano and Zach Milligan alternately skied and rappelled to the valley flooring in an unusually daring feat.

YOSEMITE, Calif — Two skiers navigated a skinny layer of snow with no margin for error down the precipitous shoulder of Half Dome in Yosemite Nationwide Park and alternately skied and rappelled again to the valley flooring in an unusually daring feat.

Jason Torlano, 45, and Zach Milligan, 40, accomplished the descent in 5 hours final Sunday by fastidiously carving their method in crusty snow and utilizing ropes to rappel a number of sections of naked rock often called the “loss of life slabs” beneath the long-lasting face of Half Dome, the Fresno Bee reported Thursday.

“Should you fall to your left or proper, you’re positively useless,” mentioned JT Holmes, an expert free skier who’s a good friend of Torlano’s. “Should you fall down the center, you could have a small probability of not falling to your loss of life — nevertheless it’s a possibly.”

Snowboarder Jim Zellers is believed to be the primary to descend the 800-foot higher part on the shoulder of the dome in 2000. However nobody is understood to have tried the whole 4,800-foot descent from peak to valley.

Torlano mentioned he had been dreaming about snowboarding the dome since his household moved to Yosemite when he was 5 years outdated.

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He first climbed Half Dome as a teenager, clinging to the identical cables tens of hundreds of holiday makers do yearly to ascend the ultimate steep pitch up the rounded facet of the polished granite function. He superior to change into one in every of an elite group of climbers to scale the sheer granite face utilizing ropes solely to catch his fall at the very least a dozen occasions. He later turned a ranger within the park.

“It’s simply all the time been there,” Torlano instructed the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve been interested in Half Dome for so long as I can keep in mind.”

After additionally serving a stint within the U.S. Military, he settled down together with his spouse and kids in a group close to Yosemite. He focuses on utilizing ropes to work in high-altitude and harmful settings.

He mentioned he tried to ski down Half Dome every of the previous three years, however known as it off after discovering unsuitable snow. This 12 months, an early February storm crammed Yosemite with contemporary powder, together with about 2 to three inches of snow on the peak of Half Dome.

He rented a good friend’s small aircraft Feb. 19 to review the snow situations and potential route earlier than calling Milligan, a mountain climbing buddy, to affix him.

Milligan mentioned he initially deliberate to solely movie Torlano snowboarding, however determined to make his personal descent by fastidiously facet slipping down on skis. He mentioned issues rapidly turned harmful when he skied over a part of one of many cables and misplaced management earlier than he used an ice ax to cease his slide and was in a position to proper himself.

“I used to be simply making an attempt to remain in management and keep alive,” Milligan mentioned. “You’re on that backbone and also you don’t have a number of room for error.”

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