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B Deleted_Beck

[TR] Hood - Devil's Kitchen Headwall 4/7/2012

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Trip: Mount Hood - Devil's Kitchen Headwall - 1C


Date: 4/7/2012


Trip Report:

I guess if you want to climb something, sometimes you're just gonna have to solo it. Anyone who pays any attention to the partners' section is probably aware of how many times I've tried to get on this route.. lacking a partner this time around, I just went ahead and did it alone. "I play my own," as little Otto would say.


I got to T-Line at around 22:30 and immediately noticed the line of AWD hatchback cars parked at the barrier across from the climber's register. The first good forecast weekend-day of the official climbing season... the Daytona 500 of Hood climbing.


I did my usual thing and signed in, pissed in the snow outside the register (I keep forgetting to bring bolt cutters), and hit the bag in my truck. Set my watch for 2:00, texted the wife, listened to the World Service for a while... I was asleep by 23:30, but was awoken about 30 minutes later to the sounds of nervous laughter and slamming car doors.... It was begun. I couldn't really get back to sleep... Everything strapped on, I was away from the parking lot about 2:15


I'd passed everyone but two soloists by the top of the lift.. They'd gone up the lower left side, which I hate, so I decided to just go ahead and break trail up the right side to the ridge of Triangle Moraine. 1,500' of regret later, I crossed their tracks just under Crater Rock, passed one of them, and rounded the convex toward Devil's Kitchen.. the last guy ahead of me was heading toward East Wall route! Of no consequence, I'd just never seen anyone do it. Once again, I was back to wallowing in deep powder, as I made my way toward the ramp to DKH route.


Somewhere about halfway from DK to the mouth of DKH, I dropped ruck to switch gloves and put on my down. After I got that all squared away, I noticed orange in the snow.... a LOT of orange in the snow... my Gatorade! The bite valve had apparently been torn off the hose somehow, and ALL 100oz of my hot Gatorade were GONE. Just as I was making this realization, the Old Fucker (no disrespect, Old Fucker, if you're reading this- it was just a name of convenience) I'd passed under Crater Rock caught up to me and, looking up at the headwall before us, said, "How the hell are we gonna get up this thing?" He'd apparently never climbed Hood before... so I squared him away, and he headed off for Hogsback.


I slogged at last up into the mouth of the couloir that would be my home, and nearly my death, for the next hour, just as the sky was starting to light. It took probably 20 minutes to get from the bottom of the mouth up to the first "ice" step... 50-60+ degree loose snow is LAME.



This pic makes it look pretty level in there.. but it was definitely 55-60 average.. Shot back down, once up on the shelf:


The dirt step, from my starting point on the shelf:



Decision time... To tell you the truth, by this point, I really didn't feel like I could safely down-climb that ramp even if I wanted to bail. The snow was simply not supporting human weight, and only upward progress was preventing sliding all the way back down. But there was a shelf of snow following the west wall of the mouth of the couloir, and I could bypass a full 10' worth of dirt climbing if that thing would support my weight...

So sticking the rime along the wall, I slowly traversed- sometimes on hands and knees- up and around, and somehow the whole thing didn't collapse. At the wall, I stemmed as much as I could off said rime, and pretty much just tied to hook pieces of rock and occasional small patches of ice with my other foot. My picks were mostly bouncing off rock and I was wearing out very quickly with all the extra effort and straining to stay stuck to the mountain.. probably 15 minutes later, I was 15 feet higher.


I thought to myself Well it surely can't possibly get any worse than that... Or did I say that out loud? The route did improve- the higher up, the thicker the ice.


I can't actually remember if it was the first or second step, but at one point, as I pulled my adze out to make a move, both my front points broke away from the shit rock they were perched on, leaving me dangling from my hammer only, till I could desperately scrape up new places for my feet and get a second tool in. !


Looking down at the first, up at the second:



Once above the second step, the exposed dirt and rock were entirely replaced by patches of fairly decent ice between stretches of steep snow over rock.. still far from ideal climbing, and still straining just to stay connected, but now able to find places to hang on my umbilicals and rest for a minute or two.


Looking back down at two...


Up at three



There are two places where route-finding actually comes into play. Understanding where you are in relation to the summit will go miles in deciding which way to go. I wasn't actually entirely sure where I was, and just got lucky.. but basically, if in doubt, go left. There's nothing to the left that's tempting to climb except the pathway you want to be on. I suppose if you're particularly daring, and the crotch-deep steep snow and dirt climbing have somehow not completely sapped you of all desire to climb, you could, at the second junction, opt to go straight or right, and climb up the very steep rimy ice to the knife-edge between Wy'East and the summit ridge


You could almost call this a fourth step, but I wouldn't. Was probably the best ice I encoutnered on the whole route, though..


Go left to get out and head up for the ridge, or veer right and head for:



I did not.


Once out of the main couloir, and after figuring out how to get from the funnel I was in to the funnel that would shoot me up to the summit, it was basically just another 150-175' of slow slog to the ridge that divides the chute I was in from the Pearly Gates chute, which then led to the summit. Not exactly what I'd envisioned, and a little disappointing when I discovered I still had another 100' to slog, but then it was finally over.




Summitted at about 7:15..? Maybe 7:30. FUCKING THIRSTY. I kept looking over for the dude that went up the East Wall, but he must have been hauling ass (or fell off the Wy'East face), 'cause I never saw him again. I did see very faint tracks on the summit ridge, so I assume those were him. Did my thing and screwed off for 20-25 minutes, strapped my shit back on and turned around to descend Mazama Chute...




The big banner cloud that I'd originally climbed up into, that had disappeared as I began the route, came back and totally socked in the mountain. Descending, I passed the first group of climbers heading up for the day within about 15 feet and never freaken saw them till I was about 20' below... crazy





Ah... my favorite part of the climb



Gear Notes:

Two tools and some testosterone are all I used... but the occasional short screw and maybe a 1-3 nut are about all you're gonna get in, for pro.


Approach Notes:

If you're the first in, expect to swim, till the snow starts to firm up..

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Rad Ben. That's a really fun line, did it last year, but in A LOT nicer conditions. Way to get after it.

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great work Ben. Looks like a real sketch-fest. Can't say I'm sorry I missed that one.

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great work Ben. Looks like a real sketch-fest. Can't say I'm sorry I missed that one.


Assuming you could get solid pieces in, it wouldn't be too bad with a belay, even as crappy as it was. At least then you might be able to rest from scratching around for junk to stick. The climbing itself wasn't especially grueling, but all the time spend swinging or hooking or stepping and getting NOTHING was very wearing, and it would have been great to be able to hang here or there.


I imagine it's actually a really serene route, with good ice and firm snow... hope to do it again when it's in condition, someday.

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Wow that sounds f-n sketch!


I would like my handle back, but not because you peel off some crazy rotten gnarlyness.


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the eye healed quickly.


That was a wild day..



We ended up turning around about 30 minutes later, ourselves. Our route was out, there was colossal crap tumbling down everywhere, and the 2" chickenheads over a 3" crust over unconsolidated powder led us to believe the Chute would be lame climbing. That, and having run into two different guys who'd each taken magic-mountain rides.


Glad you suffered no lasting harm.

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