How the Half Dome Duo Rigged for a Historic Yosemite Ski Descent

When hunting via the pics of Jason Torlano and Zach Milligan, the duo who just

When hunting via the pics of Jason Torlano and Zach Milligan, the duo who just made a rare ski descent of Yosemite’s Half Dome on Feb. 21, it is apparent they had been not particularly equipped to the nines. Torlano is donning a crusty, outdated Black Diamond Alpine Bod climbing harness with the leg loops slash off to help you save body weight. The sleeve on Milligan’s jacket is 80 per cent wrapped in Gorilla Tape, a rush patch career he did right after tearing it on his truck.

“The jackets in the photograph are virtually as considerably gap as they are jacket,” Milligan claimed. “My ski pants double as my ice climbing pants, so they’re crammed with crampon holes. All my equipment is like that.”

Milligan Torlano Yosemite skiing
Milligan in close proximity to the Half Dome summit Jason Torlano

Evidently, the benefits verify that it’s not always about the newest and biggest equipment—sometimes gear that is basically ‘reliable-enough,’ is just adequate to pull off what’s develop into an instant vintage feat. Torlano and Milligan notched the 1st full ski descent of the legendary, 8,839-foot monolith from summit to Mirror Lake on the Yosemite Valley ground, some 4,640 toes under (such as a handful of small, important rappels down sections way too steep to maintain snow). Community and countrywide media shops pounced on the news, deserving a further search into the particulars of crucial things that these unsponsored, Yosemite-standard Fifty percent Dome heroes introduced together to endure the strike mission, and make historical past.

Torlano
Just after his operate down from the summit, Torlano shoots Milligan creating his descent. Jason Torlano

To start out, Torlano’s eight-12 months-previous skis had been hand-me-downs from professional skier/Foundation jumper JT Holmes. Because receiving , Torlano has utilized them for helicopter ski guiding in Nepal and for very first ski descents in Yosemite Valley. “I by no means had a truly excellent ski package. But what I have will get me down everything I do,” he instructed me throughout a lunch split from a roofing occupation in Oakhurst (as a fellow, longtime Yosemite resident, I’ve recognised and climbed with equally for a long time).

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Backcountry skiing in Yosemite Valley with qualified Jason Torlano

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Over Torlano’s decades used dwelling in the park, he’s nabbed some two-dozen 1st descents, together with snowboarding from Taft Point to the Valley ground a 7 days in advance of snowboarding 50 % Dome. In addition to building the 2nd unroped ski descent of Half Dome (Jim Zellers was initially in 2000), in 2013 Torlano made the to start with descent of Clouds Relaxation, 5,000 toes of rolling granite slabs. There he uncovered the advantages of working with light-weight 4mm tech twine for rappelling down short sections, like the 300-some ft of 50 % Dome’s Dying Slabs, in which he and Milligan applied it to anchor off trees, connecting down to snow-protected sections.

Half Dome Yosemite
Milligan at the foundation of Half Dome’s imposing Northwest Experience. Jason Torlano

Milligan is a globe-class rock climber—and the previous to admit it, as he prefers to keep on being in the shadows. He has lapped the Common Northwest Confront of Half Dome twice in the exact same working day. Which is 4,000 ft of vertical rock climbing, ideal up the center of the shear wall. His no cost solos are spectacular in equally issues and quantity. This consists of the 1,600-foot 5.10 Steck Salathé route on Sentinel Rock, which he has down to 40 minutes. “I’ve possibly soloed that route 275 moments,” he states. For comparison, in ‘The Ascent of Alex Honnold’ episode on 60 Minutes, Honnold free of charge solos Sentinel Rock (albeit on a more tough route).

Currently, Milligan resides in Bozeman, MT, in which he installs flooring. Before moving there in 2020, “Yosemite experienced been my household my whole adult life,” he states.

Half Dome skiing
Milligan, left, and Torlano. Jason Torlano

This is not the duo’s first rodeo alongside one another, possibly. A ten years in the past, in wintertime and on skis, they tried out crossing from Mammoth to Yosemite. They attempted the 50-mile traverse in a 36-hour continual force but retreated owing to navigation troubles.

For Fifty percent Dome, wherever Torlano made use of complete-size alpine-touring ski gear, Milligan went on to the reverse close of the spectrum, carrying lightweight ski mountaineering gear. “I had Dynafit Nanga Parbat skis that had been 65cm underfoot and 172cm in length. Fairly short, quite thin, and they have very sharp edges. I also experienced one [ice pick-like pole attachment] Whippet and one particular ice ax taped to the other pole.”

Zach Milligan Half Dome
Milligan’s light and fast setup. Zach Milligan

To climb the Fifty percent Dome Cables route, Milligan continues, “I employed Kahtoola functioning crampons with no front details they’re just stubby microspikes and they’re awesome. Torlano experienced out-of-creation crampons that have two horizontal front factors. He does not know who will make them and he thinks he stole them from me. We do not know where by they arrived from.”

Two rock climbers on portaledges on triple direct, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California,

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Ahead of leaving the car towards 50 % Dome, the two shuffled by means of the ground of Milligan’s girlfriend’s car to uncover a handful of discarded 1.5-liter Crystal Geyser plastic drinking water bottles. They refilled these with river drinking water for the duration of the hike.

Torlano Yosemite
Heating up some h2o to fuel up the night time just before the descent. Jason Torlano

They didn’t pack sleeping bags to preserve excess weight, opting rather to shiver out the night in puffy pants and jackets when sitting down on insulating pads. They developed a small fire and stoked it all through that evening and passed the time by sharing tales.

“At very first I was super nervous to be out there with Zach as he doesn’t actually ski,” Torlano claims. “But I observed he was normally smiling and getting a very good time. And I realized I would instead be there with him than anyone else.”

As for the severity of skiing Fifty percent Dome as opposed to his other ski descents, Torlano states, “This was frightening, man. If you drop or a little something messes up, you go around the south face or northwest facial area (and die).”

Torlano Yosemite Half Dome skier
Jason Torlano

As for what’s up coming for Torlano and Milligan. Torlano states, “I’m speaking with Milligan to see if he can continue to be and ski just after this approaching storm cycle. The storm is owing in a couple of times.”

Jason Torlano yosmite half dome skier
courtesy Jason Torlano
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