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Half Dome Sees First Ski Descent | Steep Skiing In Yosemite

The descent is said to have taken five hours, with sections that had to be abseiled and sideslipped

The 2,100 metre Lhotse Couloir (the fourth highest mountain in the world) or the Caroline Face of Mount Cook; while there are many ‘Dream Line’ ski mountaineering descents around the world, it’s fair to say that Half Dome isn’t one of them. With large granite rock faces flanking every face of the mountain, skiers are usually happy to leave this one to the climbers.

“Skiers are usually happy to leave this one to the climbers”

However, after an early February snow storm rolled through coating the east face of Half Dome, Yosemite local Jason Torlano became the first to make a full descent of Half Dome, along with friend and videographer Zach Milligan.

Although Half Dome has seen a partial descent before, by big mountain snowboarder Jim Zellers, it was long due a full descent all the way down to Mirror Lake via the notorious Death Slabs.

The route skied by Jason and Zach followed the summer hiker’s route via the cables that are pinned to the shoulder of Half Dome. The cable route is said to be around 45 to 60 degrees in steepness. To put things into perspective, the steepest piste in the world, Mayerhofen’s Harakiri, is 38 degrees.

“The cable route is said to be around 45 to 60 degrees”

Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Torlano said he had been dreaming about skiing The Dome since his family moved to Yosemite when he was five years old. “It’s just always been there,” Torlano told the Chronicle. “I’ve been attracted to Half Dome for as long as I can remember.”

While it may not be the most aesthetic of ski mountaineering descents, it does however show a fantastic achievement on skis, blending patience holding out for the safest conditions with a technical descent. Good work lads.

Pictured: Zach descending Half Dome. Credit: Jason Torlano (AP)
Pictured: Zach and Jason on the summit. Credit: Jason Torlano (AP)

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