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Yosemite Locals Establish Two New Routes

It’s hot in Yosemite Valley right now, and that heat is driving most climbers to the cool Tuolumne High Country or other areas. But a few climbers remain dedicated to climbing here — and to do first ascents — regardless of the 100-degree temps.

On July 31, Jason Torlano and Josh Helling put up the West Buttress Direct on Dewey Point. They rated their new six-pitch line 5.10a A2. While climbing the route, the team spied a parallel line on a nearby buttress, but since Helling was unavailable, Torlano returned on Aug. 7 with partner Mike Poisson to establish Dewey Point Direct, a nine-pitch route rated 5.10c A1.

“The first and last pitch turned out to be pretty good,” Poisson says of Dewey Point Direct. “As for the rest of the route… there was some dirtiness. But you can’t beat the view even for Yosemite valley. The last pitch was really good,” he emphasized. Each route required one day to establish. No bolts were placed on either line.

Dewey Point is at 2,200 metres and is a 12.5km round-trip hike out from Glacier Point Road. “I spied these lines because I’ve skied past them before,” Torlano said.

Josh Helling, an AMGA rock guide, started working at the Yosemite Mountain School in 1993. He also works for YOSAR. He has climbed El Cap more than 26 times, and he’s climbed in Antarctica with Mike Libecki. Torlano who has resided in the Yosemite area for 40 years, works in Rope Access in Alaska, but resides just outside of the Park’s gates near the town of Oakhurst.

Though he’s climbed first ascents in the park for many years, he’s also made many first ski descents. Since age 17, he’s completed 32 first ski descents in Yosemite. His first ascents in the Yosemite include 40 Ounces of Freedom and Mr. Clean. Both routes are on Mount Broderick. He also made the first ascent, with Poisson, of Forbidden Pursuit 5.10d, 19 pitches on the Forbidden Wall in the mid-2010s.

Jason Torlano (foreground) and Josh Helling after completing their first ascent on July 31, 2019.

Mike Poisson worked in the Yosemite Mountain Shop starting in 2001. In 2016 he moved to Bishop where he works for the town of Mammoth Lakes.

“Yosemite– a day of laughter and adventure,” Torlano wrote this morning on social media after posting images of his most recent first ascent. “I thought it was good climbing,” he added. He said of his route on July 31, “A day full of laughs and smiles. Feeling blessed I can call this place home.”

Added Poisson’s wife Eva, “Mike came home tired, dirty and happy, so I know it was a good day.”

Jason Torlano making his way up a chimney during the first ascent of the West Buttress Direct at Dewey Point. Photo: Josh Helling
Mike Poisson tends to the anchor during the first ascent of Dewey Point Direct 5.10c A1 9 pitches on August 7, 2019. Photo: Jason Torlano
Poisson negotiating steep terrain on Dewey Point Direct. Photo: Jason Torlano
Dewey Point in Yosemite National Park. Photo: Torlano
Poisson on top of Dewey Point Direct. Photo: Torlano