Mazama Multipitching Mayhem

Trip dates: October 6 – October 9, 2023

Trip participants: Isabella Ma, Adam Riesel, Timon Brinker, Julian Larsen, Isaac Borrego, Niclas Heinsdorf, Anna Vu, Jessica Leung

Below accounts the events of October 7, to October 8, 2023. Based in Mazama, Washington, the group climbed ‘Flyboys’ – the longest bolted multipitch in America – with 580m elevation gain and 18 pitches. Conditions were ideal as we caught the perfect day to climb with good weather and no smoke from fires. This trip report timeline is co-written by pretty much everyone in the group as we have different perspectives of the following events.

6:00 AM
We wake up to a dark and starry sky to make breakfast. Hot chocolate oatmeal slaps.

7:45 AM
Group gets to the trailhead at the base of Flyboys. Isaac and Niclas set up a shuttle while the rest of the group hiked to the base of Pitch 1.

8:20 AM
Julian and Timon start Pitch 1.

8:45 AM
Adam and Bella start Pitch 1 after Julian and Timon link the first two pitches. Almost ran out of rope linking Pitches 1 and 2 but luckily had 5 feet left.

9:15 AM
Anna and Jess start Pitch 1 with an impediment – down 1 headlamp (home).

11:00 AM
Isaac and Niclas start Pitch 1 after setting up the shuttle and waiting for two other pairs of climbers to start.

Jessica and Anna wait at base of Pitch 6 for group #1 of other climbers to bypass.

2:00 PM
Julian and Timon finish Pitch 18 (final pitch). Start planning for a fun afternoon with some sport climbing at fun rock after organizing the shuttle.

Jessica and Anna wait at base of Pitch 7 for group #2 of other climbers to bypass. Isaac and Niclas catch up and wait with them.

~4:00 PM
Anna & Jessica at the top of Pitch 8 realize not enough time and consider whether to rappel back down to bottom or continue. Given that we don’t know where the rappel stations are, we agreed to continue. Plan discussed with Isaac and Niclas. Will stick together.

Jessica and Anna walk past the next pitch and up a steep, loose rock gully, wasting 15-20 mins, thinking the next pitch was up there, until Isaac yells back that he found the pitch below the gully. Isaac and Niclas climb first due to this. They accidentally link pitch 9 & 10. Anna and Jessica decide to do the same to save time. Can’t hear, so rope tugs used in both teams to communicate.

Julian arrives with the shuttle for pickup and sees nobody. Timon starts a fire and chills at camp.

5:00 – 5:15 PM
Adam and Bella finish Pitch 18. Ready to feast on Thanksgiving chickens.
IMG_2385 IMG_2382

~5:30 PM
Getting dark. Jessica gives Anna headlamp to lead, so has no headlamp to use. Enough sunlight to complete pitch 11.

Julian shuttles Bella and Adam back to camp. Super stoked for the rest of the group to finish (we figured they’d finish in 2ish hours since we finished 2ish hours after Julian and Timon).

The Rescue

6:45 – 7:00 PM
Adam, Bella, Julian and Timon realize it’s almost dark and make a plan to send supplies (headlamps and water) to climbers. Julian and Timon leave the campsite on a ‘rescue mission’ with head lamps for the 2 pairs of the group still on the wall.

~7:30 PM????
Jessica & Anna: Pitch 12 & 13 mostly linked except the last 50m. Anna and Jessica get up to the rappel station, ~50m before the end of Pitch 13. Now it is completely dark.

8:00 PM
First contact from Julian and Timon (yelling from bottom of first rappel) to Niclas (at top of chimney at Pitch 14).

8:30 PM
Julian and Timon swarmed by bats as they set up ropes on the top 3 pitches + scramble to help the other climbers. Both decide to turn off headlamps and sit at the belay station listening to music, watching the stars and avoiding swooping bats while they wait.

Jessica struggled to do the last pitches with features that could barely be made out. Now, rocks are just a black featureless blob. Tells crew she can’t continue without a headlamp.
Headlamp band aid solution: Isaac finishes pitch 14, lowers his headlamp down the rock to base of Pitch 14 rock wall via rope, Anna finishes leading pitch 13 to grab headlamp for Jessica, and lowers back down to give headlamp to Jessica.

Adam and Bella start cooking Thanksgiving chickens. We (Adam) had dug a hole the previous day so we just had to put the chickens in and move some hot coals in the hole from the other fire.

10:00 PM
Climbers arrive at Pitch 16. Timon rappels down out of the dark and gives group 2 headlamps and some water.

Climbers have collective relief to see Timon.

Adam and Bella wonder how are we gonna get the chickens out of the fire? Also, why aren’t Julian and Timon back with the group yet? (Answer for the first question: shenanigans)

10:30 – 11:00 PM
Adam and Bella drive to the top of the multipitch to find the truck with no people. We were a bit concerned that the group may have decided to rappel down (since we had no way to communicate with anyone on the wall) so we decided the next best move was to drive to the trailhead and hope the group was down there. Started thinking about calling emergency response for advice, but had no service.

Climbers begin getting up pitch 16 as Julian leads pitch 17 in the dark (headlamp died) with one of the extra ropes from the other climbers to finish setting up the belay station. Luckily there are extra batteries for the headlamp.

11:30 PM
Adam and Bella drive to the base of the trailhead. There was no one at there so we started to drive back to camp but Adam looked at the mountain and saw some head lamps so we pulled over on the side of the road and stared at the mountain and heard Timon yelling “Rope!”. We were getting pretty concerned after we watched them until 12:15 and saw they hadn’t made much progress from what we could tell. Beginning to think that the group would finish at 3AM.

12:30 AM
Adam and Bella drive to town a bit down the road so Adam could get on wifi from the parking lot of the town pub and try to get a status update by calling Timon, Isaac, Bella’s phone (on silent in Julian’s bag at that moment), and Niclas since we knew they had reception. No one picked up so we decided to go back to watch them from the side of the road. Didn’t see headlights anymore so headed back to outside the pub to steal wifi again.

12:45 AM
Group makes it to the top of Pitch 18! Collective relief when Isaac got service and texted Adam and Bella the group was safe and at the top.

1:00 AM
Group returns to truck and collectively agrees they finished a little later than expected.

1:30 AM
Everyone back at camp enjoying the Thanksgiving Feast (we didn’t have salt for the chicken but we didn’t need it anyway; unseasoned chicken is delicious if you’ve spent 15 hours on a multipitch).

3:00 AM
Last sips of champagne by the fire before calling the day long enough.

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One Response to Mazama Multipitching Mayhem

  1. Sonia Landwehr says:

    absolutely wild, sounds exactly like what i’d expect to happen sending a whole VOC group up a very long multipitch : )

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