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Southern Arizona

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AZ Trail - Sahuarita Rd to Coronado National Forest Boundary
The climbing on the way out is well worth it for the downhill heading home. Near Tucson, Arizona
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Southern Arizona Rock Climbing 

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Location: 32.2534, -110.9237 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: 1Eric Rhicard on Jan 23, 2012

77° | 47°
Thanksgiving Day

70° | 41°

68° | 42°

70° | 41°

67° | 39°

68° | 39°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Saguaros and approaching storm, Mt. Lemmon


Southern Arizona has a lot to offer most rock climbers. There are classic old school trad routes and super safe bolted climbs. Most of the climbing is lower angle to vertical face climbing. This is not to say that there isn't any steep stuff as a few crags have sections of steep to very steep (45 degrees) rock. There is some crack climbing but not many pure crack climbs. The majority of routes are between 5.8 and 5.12. For the 5.10 to 5.11 climber thousands of routes will keep you busy for a lifetime. There are only two 5.14s and 15 or so 5.13s on Mt. Lemmon at this time so super hard climbers usually move away.

The approaches range from sixty seconds to three or more hours. Most however, are between fifteen minutes and one hour. Elevations range from 2300 feet to 9100 feet. The ability to climb at various elevations make it possible to climb all year. On top of that the scenery is pretty spectacular with some of the prettiest sunsets you can watch. You can climb next to giant Saguaro Cactus or in the tall Ponderosa pines at the top of Mount Lemmon.

Rock Climbing Photo: The West Stronghold on a gorgeous November night. ...
The West Stronghold on a gorgeous November night.

Cochise Stronghold and the Catalina Mountains, more often referred to as Mt. Lemmon are where most of the climbing activity occurs. The Stronghold has lots of old school sphincter puckering trad routes and a higher number of more heavily bolted lines that make for a less terrifying day. The climbs reach to the summits of majestic domes of granite that are highlighted by green and yellow lichen. Late afternoon sunsets lighting these walls will take your breath away.

Rock Climbing Photo: Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona.   Photo b...
Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona.

Photo by: Aaron Lavinsky

The Catalina Mountains have hundreds of multi pitch routes but most think of it as a cragging area. Located on the northern edge of Tucson it sees the highest concentration of climbers. The 30 mile long Catalina highway has a couple of thousand climbs within 30 minutes of the road. Even so if you walk a short distance you can often have the crag to yourself.

If you get away from these two areas and visit the less traveled areas you can easily eliminate contact with other climbers and still find some great climbing.

Wherever you end up the weather will usually cooperate and the warmth of the desert will have you smiling.

Getting There 

Tucson is the epicenter of southern Arizona. If you are flying in you might find direct flights can be a bit more expensive. Many fly into Phoenix and rent a car and head south. Most cars will get you to most areas but a few will require a high clearance vehicle. If you are driving find your way to I-10 and it will lead you to Tucson.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.0 miles from here

2,673 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',90],['3 Stars',646],['2 Stars',1200],['1 Star',600],['Bomb',19]

Classic Climbing Routes in Southern Arizona

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Southern Arizona:
Inner Passage   5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a     Trad, 500'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
What's My Line?   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b A0 R     Trad, Aid, 3 pitches, 400'   East Stronghold : Cochise Dome (What's My Lin...
Ewephoria   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Sport, 5 pitches, 750'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Moby Dick   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 700'   West Stronghold : Whale Dome
The Wasteland   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 600'   East Stronghold : The Wasteland
Steel Crazy   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 450'   The Fortress : Southeast Face
Bee Line   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R     Trad, 3 pitches, 280'   East Stronghold : Stronghold Dome
Absinthe of Mallet   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Forest Lawn   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Rockfellow Group : Bastion Towers
Endgame   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
The Peacemaker   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Days of Future Passed   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
Warpaint   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13     Trad, 5 pitches, 680'   West Stronghold : Westworld Dome
Stampede   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 7 pitches, 800'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Steve's Arete   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   3 - Windy Point East : Hunchback Pinnacle
Abracadaver   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 500'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
Hard Day at The Orifice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Orifice Politics   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 105'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Coup de' tat   5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Doubt   5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 160'   Reef of Rocks : Aegir
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Southern Arizona

Featured Route For Southern Arizona
Rock Climbing Photo: Jon trying to use his head as a camming device.

R4 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  AZ : Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin... : ... : Rupley Towers
Approach as for R1 through R3. Further along this wall at the last tower (before the Tri-Level), you will find a bolt line. This is Moving Over Stone, 5.11. Just to the right of this there is a ramp leading right to a bolt (the direct start straight up to the bolt is very thin 5.10). This is R4. Climb past the lone bolt to the crack in the roof. Up this to a large chimney. There are chains at the back of the chimney. Rappel these.Long route with lots of pro available....[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Photos of Southern Arizona Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona.   Photo b...
Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona. Photo b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Saguaro NP, Southern Arizona
Saguaro NP, Southern Arizona
Rock Climbing Photo: Coronado NM, Southern Arizona
Coronado NM, Southern Arizona
Rock Climbing Photo: Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Southern Arizona
Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Southern Arizona
Rock Climbing Photo: Maybe a barrel cactus?  September 2012.
Maybe a barrel cactus? September 2012.
Rock Climbing Photo: Another shot.  September 2012.
Another shot. September 2012.
Rock Climbing Photo: In Saguaro national park.  September 2012.
In Saguaro national park. September 2012.
Rock Climbing Photo: Yeah I know it's not So AZ, but I thought some of ...
Yeah I know it's not So AZ, but I thought some of ...

Comments on Southern Arizona Add Comment
Show which comments
By manuel rangel
From: Tempe, Arizona
Mar 18, 2014
Bighorn Sheep calving closure on Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This includes Leviathan. I found it out the hard way last weekend. The area is closed from January 1 until April 30.
By brian benedon
Dec 5, 2014
what do you mean about finding out the hard way?

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