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The Sheepshead

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Absinthe of Mallet T 
Barnyard Wall 1 S 
Barnyard Wall 2 T,S 
Climb Too Tough To Die, The T,S 
Ewephoria T,S 
Get The Flock Out Of Here T 
Great second pitch. S 
Greedy Little Varmint T 
Ides of Middlemarch T 
Mad Cow Disease T,S 
Peacemaker, The S 
Stampede S 
Tombstone Stripper, The T,S 
Unknown (begins 50' left of The Climb Too Tough to Die) T,S 
Unknown (corner 15' left of Peacemaker) T,S 
Unknown (right of stampede) T 
Unknown (Right of The Peacemaker) S 

The Sheepshead  


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Location: 31.87031, -109.99388 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 203,635
Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: James DeRoussel on Sep 3, 2002
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Climbers on Sheepshead, Cochise Stronghold

Description 

The Sheepshead, this area's namesake, is the huge sweeping dome visible during most of the drive in on Middlemarch Road. It is by far the most prominent and aesthetic piece of rock in the immediate area, though there are a multitude of quality routes on the smaller neighboring domes.

Over 40 routes ascend this vast expanse of granite, most being of moderate to high difficulty (5.9-5.11, Class III). There are some incredible multi-pitch climbs with fantastic exposure. The rock quality is great for the most part, but does contain the occasional loose feature. Routefinding is generally difficult, even with a good topo. Expect scary climbing and frequent runouts on moderate terrain.

For those willing to put in a full day, The Sheepshead offers true adventure climbing.

Getting There 

From Tucson, had east on I-10 to exit #303 (Tombstone/Bisbee). Turn right (south) on Arizona Highway 80 and drive for about 20 miles. Just before Tombstone, turn left onto Middlemarch Road. Follow this rough gravel road for almost ten miles to Forest Road 687. Make a left, towards the West Stronghold and follow this dirt road north. Make the first right turn on a dirt road that leads past a windmill to the road's end. Park and hike across the grassy field toward the obvious domes.

When you approach the treeline across the grassy field, trend right toward a major drainage, keeping south of the smaller hills. A trail should vaguely follow this drainage course, leading up the valley below The Sheepshead. If you cannot pick up a trail, just follow the path of least resistance. Make sure you close any gates you may pass along the way.

The trail/drainage course will take you to a point directly under but far below the base of the dome. At this point, a small climber's trail will head off right, up the slope towards Sheepshead. Navigate the brush and slabs up to the base of the climbs.

Allow an hour for the approach. Plan for a long day.

Climbing Season



Weather station 5.1 miles from here

17 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',13],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',2],['5.8',0],['5.9',2],['5.10',11],['5.11',2],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Sheepshead:
Ewephoria   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Sport, 5 pitches, 750'   
Greedy Little Varmint   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 6 pitches   
Ides of Middlemarch   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 700'   
Absinthe of Mallet   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 7 pitches   
The Peacemaker   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 7 pitches   
Unknown (right of stampede)   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   
The Climb Too Tough To Die   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches   
Barnyard Wall 2   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   
The Tombstone Stripper   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches   
Unknown (corner 15' left of Peacemaker)   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches, 790'   
Great second pitch.   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   
Unknown (Right of The Peacemaker)   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 7 pitches   
Get The Flock Out Of Here   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 5 pitches, 650'   
Unknown (begins 50' left of The Climb Too Tough to Die)   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches, 750'   
Stampede   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 7 pitches, 800'   
Mad Cow Disease   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches, 740'   
Browse More Classics in The Sheepshead

Featured Route For The Sheepshead
P6, a long friction pitch.

Absinthe of Mallet 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a  AZ : Cochise Stronghold : ... : The Sheepshead
Approach: About 30 min. Approach on the main sheepshead highway trail. Hike for a while, then 5 minutes or so after going through the second animal gate, see a less defined trail break uphill from the main trail (small cairns on sandy slab). Follow this (trail gets good quickly) up cairns. There is one cairned trail that breaks off right to another rock formation- ignore it. Eventually you will reach a big boulder near the cliff base. Walk left by the boulder (underneath it) and head up a few ya...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Photos of The Sheepshead Slideshow Add Photo
The Sheepshead in all its glory
The Sheepshead in all its glory
Climbers from Detroit on "Peacemaker" at about 3:30pm 12/30/2007.  We finished and noticed them up there.  We left before they reached their famous trouble pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Climbers from Detroit on "Peacemaker" at about 3:3...
Last light on the Sheepshead
Last light on the Sheepshead
Jay atop the Sheepshead looking west towards Tombstone after climbing Ewephoria.  What a day.
Jay atop the Sheepshead looking west towards Tombs...
Sheepshead area from the parking lot
Sheepshead area from the parking lot
Descending from the Sheepshead
Descending from the Sheepshead
Magnificent views on the top of the Sheepshead
Magnificent views on the top of the Sheepshead
Sheepshead Topo
Sheepshead Topo
Sheepshead
Sheepshead
Muttonhead from the Sheepshead descent, near sunset.
Muttonhead from the Sheepshead descent, near sunse...
Sheepshead
Sheepshead
The Sheepshead has some of the finest multipitch winter climbs in the US.  This rock rocks!!!
The Sheepshead has some of the finest multipitch w...
View from the approach
View from the approach
The Sheepshead
The Sheepshead
Sheepshead shenanigans
Sheepshead shenanigans
Jason enjoying some sport climbing on the north face of the Sheepshead.
Jason enjoying some sport climbing on the north fa...
Summy of Absinthe and the Sheepshead.
Summy of Absinthe and the Sheepshead.
Route Crux...not for short people
BETA PHOTO: Route Crux...not for short people
Approaching the Sheepshead in December 2001 to do Absinthe in the snow.
Approaching the Sheepshead in December 2001 to do ...
Summit pic: me, Sara, James and Ben atop Sheepshead.  What a great day of climbing!
Summit pic: me, Sara, James and Ben atop Sheepshea...
The Sheepshead
The Sheepshead
Sheepshead, Novemer 2009, Cochise Stronghold
Sheepshead, Novemer 2009, Cochise Stronghold
Evening light
Evening light

Comments on The Sheepshead Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 7, 2014
By Sergio P
From: Idaho Springs, CO
Apr 1, 2007
There is camping right at the trailhead
By Eric D
From: Gnarnia
Apr 13, 2007
Beautiful dome, though someone drilled bolts everywhere on the upper section. Too many bolts for a wilderness climbing area.
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Apr 13, 2007
Scott was prescient and knew that someday we'd be doing Absinthe in the morning and shooting a round of golf just down the road in the afternoon..:-)
By Jordan Ramey
From: Calgary, Alberta
Dec 19, 2007
Better / Faster approach: Nice and fast mostly flat trail that avoids the sticker bushes and any bushwacking.

When driving down the last stretch of road past the water tanks, stay left and park by the barb wire gate with the reflective sign. There is a super well traveled trail starting at this gate all the way to the Sheepshead. Go through the gate (close it behind you!) and follow this trail across the grassy field. You'll pass a cattle water tub within the first couple hundred yards. You'll eventually cross the wash and end up on another grassy field. Finally you'll come to a second barb wire gate. Go through and close it behind you. You'll be right at the start of the steep section that is well marked with cairns.

You really can't get lost on this trail, it is that well traveled. Takes about 30-45 minutes to reach Absinthe of Mallet this way. It is very very noticable from anywhere on the Sheepshead.
By Charlie King
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 23, 2008
Some of the newer routes on the Sheepshead posted here are not entirely acurate. Some the pitches contain some accurate information but the combination of the pitches for the routes that are listed are not the combination of pitches the first accessionsts ascended these routes or intended these routes to go.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 8, 2009
For those of you who have Google Earth, I have posted two files that may be helpful for you.

The first has driving directions to the Sheepshead.

The second has the approach and most of the major multipitch lines. Both of these can be viewed in 3D from any aspect and printed.

You can download the files from geir.com/googleearth/stronghol...

Google Earth can be downloaded for free at googleearth.com
By Luis Cisneros
From: Tucson
Nov 16, 2009
In the past November 1st Nick Erhardt and I completed 6 climbs in a day: The Peacemaker, Absinthe of Mallet, Ides of Middlemarch, The Climb Too Tough to Die, Right of Stampede and Ewephoria, making 36 pitches... We did use a fixed line to rap down and it was great fun... I dare to say that at 8 climbs could be done with enough motivation and foot pain tolerance, but as it is for now, I think this is the current record of number of pitches in a day for this crag.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 16, 2009
Wow! How much simul-climbing did you do?
By Luis Cisneros
From: Tucson
Nov 17, 2009
... no simul-climbing at all, and actually, that is one of the main things we can do to make it faster. But I feel that I need to be a bit more familiar with the routes to do this.
By eMurdock
From: Tucson, Arizona
Nov 17, 2009
Nice work Luis!! You sure Scott A hasn't climbed 6 or more routes. Seems like he may have, maybe not? Dean Brault and I did 3 routes in ~4 hours without simul-climbing (and running off the descent) about 5 or 6 years ago, so I can see how 8 would be possible with a fixed rappel. I remember Dean looking at me and shaking his head after I got up to the belay on the first pitch. My heart rate was up from climbing fast. He said I needed to climb faster. Dean was so smooth but I was pretty exhausted from the effort; more from the super fast following than the leading.

The Sheepshead is like a vertical track. Lots of bolts and all fixed belays. At one time I was not a big fan of the development but now I just view it for what it is: a speed climbing venue. Where else can you climb so much on a big cliff in a stellar location with a super light rack and a really low risk level?
By Luis Cisneros
From: Tucson
Nov 17, 2009
Scott has done 5 routes running down the descent, which is a very impressive record... We opted for the fixed line 'soft' style basically to save our knees and time to do more pitches. We were moving somewhat fast and steady, but not really rushing up to our limit. If the interest is only speed, there is a lot of room for improvement... In any case, yeah, agree, Sheepshead is an awesome playground for this kind of stuff... the big 8 is totally feasible...
By Steve Pulver
From: Williston, ND
Nov 17, 2009
Were the routes all done during daylight? 6 routes seems really impressive.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 17, 2009
eMurdock wrote:
The Sheepshead is like a vertical track. Lots of bolts and all fixed belays. At one time I was not a big fan of the development but now I just view it for what it is: a speed climbing venue. Where else can you climb so much on a big cliff in a stellar location with a super light rack and a really low risk level?


Eric,

I agree that the high number of heavily bolted routes on the Sheepshead do make it a speed climbing venue.

However, I personally dislike the proximity of the heavily bolted lines on the Sheepshead. I am not opposed to developing traditional lines close together, but it ruins the backcountry feel of Cochise routes for me when I run into other bolted lines right next to the route I am on. This is only my opinion, of course, but I feel that the Southwest and West faces of the Sheepshead are overdeveloped.

That said, congrats to Luis and Nick for an excellent effort on this linkup! I look forward to seeing the "big 8" happen!
By Luis Cisneros
From: Tucson
Nov 18, 2009
I second Geir's comment... the lower angle of this rock make it easy to find any number of ways to climb it... just dump a bunch of steel, pretty much at random, and some friction route will come out. I think the classic routes (say, mostly the ones that actually have names) are great and somewhat preserve the adventure character of the Stronghold, they are mixed and pretty natural lines. Now, by the precedent set by The Peacemaker, the new lines may be great fun (haven't climb them), but the over-bolting squeeze job in recent years has gone way too far. The fact that some people get confused in some of these lines, ending up clipping bolts or anchors from different routes in a single pitch, is a good indication of the problem.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Mar 15, 2010
I just wanted to post a note and say a big THANK YOU to the folks who have been maintaining the trails and the routes in this area- it was so easy to find and climb the routes, feel safe while clipping the new and well installed hardware, and then find and descend on a well maintained, well built trail system.

Thanks guys, seriously- climbing areas around the country could use more folks like you.
By Toofast
Mar 15, 2010
(panting, wagging tail)
By Daryl Allan
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Oct 6, 2010
Very kind words, John. If you ever happen to run across Scott Ayers, pass that big 'thank you' onto him directly. The trails are a combined effort for sure. I rarely, if ever, see Scott and his better half out climbing without their trusty hedge clippers. Happy climbing! d
By rob bauer
From: Golden, CO
Apr 8, 2012
Well, I did just two routes in a day and it was awesome! Too late for me, but is there an "insiders" route rap? Thought I was doing pretty well until I stuck a rope which pushed things back a bit. It certainly was possible with twin 50's, but it wasn't slick. Suggestions other than walking down? Where was the route y'all did with the fixed line(s)?
By Josh S
Feb 6, 2013
cool images of the Sheepshead via Bing Maps:

binged.it/YEgSKF
By cochiseclimbing
Mar 7, 2014
Do not try and rappel the Sheepshead. The fat metolious hangers are there for emergency raps but they are not set up for or intended to be rappelled. The day they did multiple routes and rappelled I remember them ending at the base of Peacemaker but I think they were single line rappels.

Here is a belay view photo so you can get to the base of the route.
<a href='http://www.cochiseclimbing.com' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >cochiseclimbing.com</a> <br />Peacemaker belay photo
cochiseclimbing.com
Peacemaker belay photo