Jump to content

[TR] Mt Hood - DKHW Variation 2.5, Flying Buttress Direct, Men of Steel 02/28/2021


Recommended Posts

Trip: Mt Hood - DKHW Variation 2.5, Flying Buttress Direct, Men of Steel

Trip Date: 02/28/2021

Trip Report:


I climbed Hood on Sunday 2/28 and again on Wednesday 3/3 and explored a couple lesser-known parts of the Devil's Kitchen Headwall/Steel Cliffs area. @Nolan E Arson and I went up on Sunday with the intention of checking out Devil's Kitchen Headwall variation 1, but were drawn over to the east side of the crater where there was an impressive amount of new rime and more wind-scoured surfaces to walk on.


We started by heading up the system of gullies between the normal DKHW 2 and DKHW 3 routes (red line in the photo below; "DKHW 2.5"?). It's very hard to see how or if these connect to the crater rim from below, but the lower climbing looked pretty moderate and reversible.


Where the red line turns to the left we found a small section of exposed rock, however it was pretty low angle and all of the rime we had touched so far seemed exceptionally solid so we continued up.


Above this the angle increased and there were two obvious options separated by a large overhanging rime fin (center of the photo below). Rather than squeeze through the shadowy slot on the right we climbed a 25-foot near-vertical rime chimney on the left.


This turned out to be a mistake. From up higher we could see that we wanted to continue climber's right, but getting back on route by climbing over the rime fin seemed too sketchy as we couldn't tell if it was solid or undercut on the far side and the moves looked pretty committing. Thankfully there was some legitimate ice, we got in a v-thread (initially backed up with almost every screw we had), and rapped back down.


We continued by squeezing through the slot to climber's right, which was actually pretty fun climbing despite my leashes and draws snagging the rime literally every time I tried to move.




Above this the angle eased off a bit and it was normal rambling rime climbing up to the east crater rim. I'd say this line is totally worth doing, in these conditions at least, mostly just for the fun of squeezing through the steep rime chimney. It's totally possible that with different rime formations it would be a lot harder.

We messed around on the crater rim for a few minutes, scouted our next line, and then downclimbed the Flying Buttress (variation 3) variation (orange line in first photo). Flying Buttress is currently pretty rampy and only felt like serious downclimbing for maybe 10 feet at the top, mostly because we were cleaning off a lot of sun-affected rime.


Back in the crater we went a few feet climber's right of the normal Flying Buttress route and started climbing up the big cleft in the rock (yellow line in first photo). I'd been eyeing this line for a while and it seemed like the solid state of the rime made it a good time to try. First photo below is the bottom part of the route.


There were very solid sticks despite the obviously thin rime in places. From below it looked like the angle immediately eased off but this was not actually the case. We soloed up to a very small but relatively restful ledge where I was able to place a decent ice screw and chill out for a couple minutes (photo below).


Continuing above the first screw:


Above this the route curves a bit to the right and the climbing started to become somewhat stressful. The right side of the gully was shaded with patches of good ice, but was mostly exposed rock, and looked way too hard to solo and way too thin to protect with the minimal gear (screws) we had. The left side had a thick coating of rime, so I climbed there, but it was obviously sun-affected and seemed barely weight-bearing. Eventually I traversed back into the shade, managed to get in another decent screw, and kicked a small platform (photo below).60413f0d1313f_20210228_143638(1).thumb.jpg.7f8b5bbf8db9e4a3e1c8fac0ff8cdb71.jpg

Eventually I bumped myself up on top of the next big rock in order to make space:


At this point I'd had enough soloing and we got out the rope. @Nolan E Arson hammered one of his tools into a crack to belay, and I led up one final section of steep unstable rime. Of course, as soon as the rope was on, the climbing felt chill and easy, even though the anchor and couple screws I placed were probably complete trash. I stopped at a big ledge that we had previously seen from the top of the crater rim, belayed from there, and then it was easy rambling to the top. Curiously there is a fumarole on this ledge which is maybe not visible from anywhere else on the mountain (photo below).


Also near the top out was a completely enclosed, Patagonia-style rime tunnel. I decided not to squeeze through since I would've had to remove my pack.


Overall this line was quite challenging. It's consistently steep and exposed with minimal opportunities for protection and is clearly a step up in difficultly from, say, DKHW variation 1. I would climb it again but I would probably bring a variety of light rock pro and do it first thing in the morning before the sun starts to soften any of the rime.

We downclimbed Flying Buttress again and descended. On the descent we found about 15 dead Northern Pintails (ducks) that looked like they had smashed into the side of the mountain during the last storm.


I went back up on Wednesday with Kyle hoping to get a quick climb in before I had to work. We climbed some variation of the Men of Steel route. Perhaps we were supposed to start lower on climber's right but I'm not sure because someone stole my guidebook.


There were a couple steep moves to get off the ground, but I couldn't take any pictures as I was struggling with the barfies. Traversing to the right required some thought but was generally not too steep or difficult. The crux of the route is where it slants left (where the red line disappears in the photo). There is an exposed slab of rock here that's visible from the crater. I think we both made one move with our left crampon on the rock, though it's possible the previous people to climb this had to deal with more exposed rock (@Nolan E Arson? Alex?).


Kyle coming up a bit more steep stuff, with the big slab visible on the mid-right part of the photo:


Above this was one set of rime towers/gullies to get through:



Eventually Kyle took a gully to the right, cleaning off a ton of rime in the process (action shot below). While waiting for him and trying to stay out of the way I went up to the left a bit and ended up climbing a different rime chimney since there were a few reasonable but fun-looking options.


We topped out and then followed the rest of the Wy'east route to the summit. The crux traverse of the Wy'east route was consolidated and not very scary. The rest of the slopes up to the summit were typical deep postholing bullshit.

Gear Notes:

Approach Notes:
Skinned to top of Palmer where it became the normal sea of rime, cramponed from there.

Edited by zaworotiuk
  • Like 3
  • Snaffled 1
  • Rawk on! 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great write up, Matt. And thanks for suggesting we check out these lines. 

The climbing on both routes was sustained, engaging, and surprising secure—mostly. Both routes are great diversions from the standard, documented lines up to the Wy’East ridge, but ”Flying Buttress Direct” is particularly striking.

Given the right rime conditions, I think the route is potentially the best on the south side of the mountain. Just don’t bank on abundant protection.

Here’s an annotated shot from the Hogsback (taken 3.3.21) that shows the routes from a different perspective:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, nonbasketless said:

Really got your money's worth on the playground I see :D

Alpine cragging on a beautiful sunny day—gotta love Mount Hood!

Only one other party of two made it to the crater on 2.28. Not sure what happened to everyone else, but we weren’t complaining!

Edited by Nolan E Arson
Date clarity
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...