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Flyboys: Washington's 18-Pitch 5.9 Sport Route

A new, monster 5.9 sport route in the North Cascades, Flyboys, soars high.

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Flyboys Goat Wall Sport Climbing Rock Multipitch Cascades Washington 5.9
           Bryan Burdo on pitch 4 of Flyboys, a 5.9 traverse on incuts out to the arête.Evan Skoczenski

Between 2016 and 2017, Washington route developers Bryan Burdo and Jerry Daniels fixed thousands of feet of rope on the 2,000-foot Goat Wall, an andesite dome above Mazama, Washington, in the North Cascades. As they cleaned the line, they also drilled 275 bolts, creating an 18-pitch route. Flyboys, possibly the longest bolted 5.9 in the United States, requires a simple rack: 16 quickdraws, a few runners, and an appetite for altitude.

The new route strikes up the dome’s central rib. It makes a fine companion to Burdo’s 2005 Prime Rib of Goat (5.9; 1,100 feet), a similarly well-protected plaisir climb to the east, and other routes on Goat Wall’s south face, like the 1,000-foot Restless Natives (5.11c), the 1,500-foot Sisyphus (5.11a), and the 600-foot Methow Inspiration Route (5.9). Its creation echoes other mind-bendingly long multi-pitch sport efforts in Washington, like the 23-pitch Infinite Bliss (5.10c; 2,600 feet) in North Bend.

Flyboys wanders up two pitches of slab before snaking up the main buttress. The route toes the edge of the arête, coming to a heady fourth pitch (5.9) as you move out on an exposed traverse to the edge. From there, you tackle features like the Flying Staircase and the Bomb-Bay Squeeze Chimney, and must engage in occasional third class route-finding. The crux comes on the final pitch, requiring three consecutive 5.9+ boulder moves to summit. “Every 5.9 pitch would be one of the best at nearly any crag,” Burdo says. “It’s all great rock, thousands of feet above the valley floor.”

Burdo, who has been developing routes in Mazama for 30 years, had eyed the line since putting up Prime Rib of Goat, but it wasn’t until partner Jerry Daniels took an interest that the duo had the manpower. Burdo’s route development focuses on creating routes for the masses, and to fund the project, Burdo and Daniels crowdsourced bolt money. Climbers from around Washington contributed, raising over $2,000 in a few weeks and allowing the developers to buy new bolts, drills, and ropes, and finish their insta-classic.


Goat Wall, Mazama, Washington


Via forest roads or a separate rap line


IV 5.9


18 pitches; 1,500 feet



First ascent

Bryan Burdo, Jerry Daniels


Mountain Project: Flyboys