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Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

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1 - Lower Highway 
2 - Bear Canyon 
3 - Windy Point East 
4 - Windy Point West 
5 - Windy Ridge 
6 - Mid-Mountain 
7 - Upper Highway 
8 - Summit Crags 

Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)  


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Elevation: 2,500'
Location: 32.4153, -110.7338 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: James DeRoussel on Jul 11, 2010
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Golden light and storm clouds low on the hill, Mt....

Description 

The Catalina Highway (officially the General Hitchcock Highway though nobody uses that name) climbs more than 5,300 feet and passes through five of North America's seven distinct life zones. As the road starts in the Lower Sonoran Desert and climbs to alpine forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a stretch of only 27 miles!

The vast majority of climbing areas in the Santa Catalina Mountains are accessed via this highway. Mount Lemmon provides an equal amount of diverse rock climbing, from classic multi-pitch traditional routes to bolted sport climbs. Crags are generously distributed at a huge range of elevations, providing comfortable temps year round. Almost all of Mount Lemmon's climbs are on south facing crags, offering the best winter, spring and fall climbing weather in the country.

There are dozens of great camping sites, both developed and otherwise, along the Catalina Highway. A $5 day pass or $20 annual pass is required for any recreational use, and some developed campgrounds will incur additional fees. Highway access is generally never an issue, however chains or 4WD may be required above Windy Point in winter months. World class scenery within minutes of Tucson make this a destination for climbers and non-climbers alike. Vehicular and bicycle traffic on the highway can be heavy on peak weekends.

The sub-areas of Mount Lemmon Highway are listed in the sidebar in alphabetical order. For clarity, and in accordance with Squeezing the Lemmon II (and its upcoming sequel), they are listed below in order of elevation, lowest to highest:

Lower Highway
Bear Canyon
Windy Point East
Windy Point West
Windy Ridge
Mid-Mountain
Upper Highway
Summit Crags

ADMIN NOTE:

Eric Fazio Rhicard has written up a mile post update to Sqeezing the Lemmon II. This should account for changes due to road construction in recent years. It's long, but I've posted it here, figuring this was the most obvious place for people to find it. Thanks, Eric, for all the time spent on this! --Forest Hill

Squeezing The Lemmon II Mile Marker Update


In 2000 when the guidebook was published the highway was under construction. The work has ended and most of milemarkers have been moved. I drove the highway and recorded the actual mileages for the parking and pullouts to all but a few crags. Below I have listed the page and the new mileages for overviews, topos and text. It may be in the text or on an overview (OV) or overhead (OH). Sometimes if there is no mileage for a crag on the overview or overhead I have included it so you can add it. To update your guidebook here is the info.

P.1 Mt Lemmon Overview; Change Old Prison Camp to Gordon Hirabayashi and change MP 7 to 7.3
P.10 Mt Lemmon Highway Overview; Soldier Trail 1.4 to 1.3, Weathertop has no MP but you can add 4.5, Fee Pay Station 5 to 5.1, Gatehouse has no Mp but you can ad 6.1, Jailhouse and Garc Onilom has no mileage but you can add 7.3, Kesslers Corner to 8.6
P.12 Picture caption from .5 to .6
P.14 Hairpin OV .5 to .6
P. 19 Hidden Jewels OH 1.4 to 1.3
P. 20 Left of The Gatehouse 6.2 to 6.1
P. 21 It Cliff OH 4.7 to 4.5
P. 34 Prison Camp OV is now called Gordon Hirabayashi Overview.
P. 35 Prison Camp Area is now Gordon Hirabayashi Area
P. 39 Kesslerís Corner 9 to 8.6
P. 40 Lower Bear Canyon OV Green Slabs 10 to 9.9
P. 41 In Text below words Agave Spires 14.3 to 13.8 Bottom paragraph i in the Text above the words Trick or Treat 15.8 to 15.3
P. 44 Chessman OH 9.8 to 9.4 and 10.2 to 9.8
P. 45 In the text Park in the pullout at 10.2 change to 9.4
P. 50 Green Slabs and Panorama OV 10.2 to 9.9
P. 52 10.2 to 9.9 on the OH and in the text.
P. 56 MP 10 should be moved up road just past the Green Slabs
P. 68 Upper Bear Canyon Overview. Under Cornerstone write in 10.3, Chimney Rock 11 to 10.9, Wailing Wall 12.4, Dr. Death 13 to 12.6 is the trail and the first pullout up the road is 12.8 Rollinstone and Lost Hawk pinnacle 13.6 to 13.3
P. 73 In the text 11 to 10.9
P. 79 In the text 15.6 to 15.3
P. 85 Wailing Wall text 12.8 to 12.4
P. 86 Dr. Death ... OV Parking 13 to 12.8 The trail leaves road at 12.6 add it if you like.
P. 88 Text 13 to 12.8
P. 94 Rollinstone OV 13.4 to 13.3
P. 98 Windy Pt. East OV Andyís Hat 14.1 to 13.6, New Wave Wall 14.2 to 13.7, Windy Point 14.3 to 13.8
P. 99 Text said 14 to 14.3 change it to 13.6 to 13.8
P. 100 Punch and Judy OV 14.1 to 13.6
P. 107 Andyís Hat OH 14.1 to 13.6
P. 112 Rupley Towers OV 14.2 to 13.7
P. 114 Pullout Wall OV 14.2 to 13.7
P. 126 Indigo Tower... and Wind Wall Topo. Change Topo to Overhead and the MP 14.3 to 13.7
P. 134 Hunchback Pinnacle Area OV 14.2 to 13.7
P. 152 Windy Point West OV 14.3 to 13.8
P. 184 Windy Ridge OV Geology Vista 14.7 to 14.3, The Stones 14.8 to 14.4, Goosehead 15.3 to 14.7, Lizard Rock change MP 15.4 to MP 15.9 to just 15.6
P. 185 Text Geology Vista at 14.7 to 14.3 The Matterhorn mileage is close enough but you could change it to 15.7.
P. 190 Goosehead OV 15.2 to 14.7 A new pullout above Cowpunks is 14.7 too.
P. 191 Phallus and Goosehead OH 15.2 to 14.7
P. 195 Cowpunks Wall OH 15.3 to 14.7
P. 196 Eagle Rock OH 15.4 to 15
P. 198 Lizard Rock OV Middle Earth 15.4 to 15, Loose Goose 15.8 to 15.3, Lizard Rock 15.9 to 15.6, Outback 16.3 to 16.1
P. 200 Parking area is now just down the road at mp 15.2 so change it from 15.8 to 15.2 and move it down the road.
P. 201 Text first paragraph 15.8 to 15.2
P. 202 In the text change 15.4 to 15. At bottom of the paragraph there is no trail from Col. Birdseye.
P. 207 In the text 15.9 to 15.6
P. 209 Text 16.3 to 16.1
P. 210 Mid-Mtn. OV Palisades Ranger Station 20 to 19.4, Ridgeline and Boneyard 18.5 to 18.3, San Pedro Vista 17.8 to 17.3 Rose Canyon 17.3 to 17, Next mile marker down the road on the left is 16.2 to 16.1.
P. 211 Text Palisades ranger station 20 to 19.4
P. 212 Rose Cyn. Lake OV MP 17.3 to 17, MP 16.2 to 16.1 by Willow Canyon Circle cabins.
P. 213 Geology Vista picture caption 14.7 to 14.3
P. 225 In the text Willow Canyon Circle around MP 16.2 to 16.1
P. 228 San Pedro OV San Pedro Vista Pullout 17.8 to 17.3 and MP 17.3 to 17
P. 244 Druid OV MP 20 to 19.4

Getting There 

The Catalina Highway is accessed via Tanque Verde Rd. on Tucson's east side. Any amenity you could possibly desire is available at the bottom of the highway, and some basic supplies can also be acquired at the general store in Summerhaven, a small mountain community at the highway's upper terminus. Allow about 45 minutes to an hour to drive the entire 27 mile stretch.

Climbing Season



Weather station 0.9 miles from here

1,853 Total Routes

['4 Stars',56],['3 Stars',385],['2 Stars',855],['1 Star',479],['Bomb',17]
['<=5.6',60],['5.7',114],['5.8',165],['5.9',208],['5.10',480],['5.11',369],['5.12',149],['5.13',31],['>=5.14',4],['',0],['<=V1',41],['V2-3',117],['V4-5',41],['V6-7',24],['V8-9',25],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',27],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway):
Slippery When Wet   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 130'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
Agatha Christie (Direct)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 90'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
In Lightning   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 180'   6 - Mid-Mountain : The Druid
R4   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   3 - Windy Point East : Rupley Towers
Old Man   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   4 - Windy Point West : South Fin
Chihuahua Power   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   2 - Bear Canyon : Lost Hawk
Steel Crazy   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 450'   The Fortress : Southeast Face
Centerpiece   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   2 - Bear Canyon : Chimney Rock
Lizard Marmalade Direct   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 135'   3 - Windy Point East : Punch and Judy Towers
Steve's Arete   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   3 - Windy Point East : Hunchback Pinnacle
Two Kings And A Pawn   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 85'   Chessman Area : 4 - Queen
Histoplasmosis   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
Hard Day at The Orifice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Tsunami   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   3 - Windy Point East : New Wave Wall
Orifice Politics   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 105'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
The Sampler   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 60'   7 - Upper Highway : Spectrum Wall
Heel-A Monster   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
In Search of Silence [Var]   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 120'   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 Classics in Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

Featured Route For Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)
Nurd Rock, w first pitch of "Desire" shown

Desire 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b AZ : Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin... : ... : Nurd Rock
Desire is a classic Lemmon route. The route follows the face and arete of the middle of Nurd Rock. With a 60 meter rope, it should be done as one pitch. Someone replaced the bolts with solid ones and placed two bolts at the mid-belay (which does not need to be used). The route used to have a gear belay there before 60 meter ropes were standard. This route has it all. Delicate, slabby face climbing gets you started. The first bolt is high. A couple pieces of pro and you are climbing steep...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Local Information for Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)
Photos of Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Slideshow Add Photo
Brains!
Brains!
Electric...photo taken at Jailhouse rock. <br />
Electric...photo taken at Jailhouse rock.
Sunset on Lemmon
Sunset on Lemmon
Meet Mr. Horny Toad.  Found this critter in the grass while hiking out from South Park.
Meet Mr. Horny Toad. Found this critter in the gr...
Starting the camo process.
Starting the camo process.
Mt. Lemmon Ice.  Jimbo on the thin stuff. Sorry we have been sworn to secrecy.  12/23/07
Mt. Lemmon Ice. Jimbo on the thin stuff. Sorry we...
Early March 2003.  Some short ice not far from Ski Valley, the mountain's ski resort.
Early March 2003. Some short ice not far from Ski...
My thanks
My thanks
Mister T's Chosspile!
Mister T's Chosspile!
Spring time flowers on the Mt. Lemmon highway
Spring time flowers on the Mt. Lemmon highway
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake. Saw it hiking out after a nice cool evening of sunset climbing at Punch and Judy.
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake. Saw it hiking out afte...
Cres looking confident...
Cres looking confident...
Has anyone ever been to this crag before 2007?
Has anyone ever been to this crag before 2007?
Endless Highway.
Endless Highway.
View from above.
View from above.
Tufa grippin'
Tufa grippin'
Jim Scott climbing on 12/15/07.  Elevation 5700ft. High temp. 53 degrees in Tucson.  Climbed all day but had to dodge a bit of ice now and then.  That is 6 inches of snow on the north facing side of the canyon.
Jim Scott climbing on 12/15/07. Elevation 5700ft....
How about this free standing tower!  Anyone been to it other than Andy?
How about this free standing tower! Anyone been t...
Climbing the beginning moves of Airgasm-5.10
Climbing the beginning moves of Airgasm-5.10
5.9 mixed route off of GH trail.
5.9 mixed route off of GH trail.
The road up Mount Lemmon, at The Hairpin.  The climbing starts just above this hairpin, in the draw on the left.
The road up Mount Lemmon, at The Hairpin. The cli...
Savo and Babo, with a durp
Savo and Babo, with a durp
One of my favorite shots <br />Ryan D on lead.
One of my favorite shots
Ryan D on lead.
Nice light low on the mountain, Mt. Lemmon Hwy.
Nice light low on the mountain, Mt. Lemmon Hwy.

Show All 24 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 7, 2014
By andypeters
Jul 30, 2005
Just wanted to give a warning about the new hazards of that fancy Windy Point road art! While a climbing partner and I were crossing the road we observed a Ford Ranger spinning out of control. It seemed really odd because it didn't appear it was caused by driver error. When we crossed the road we then relized how slick the wet road actually was ! My partner and I are going to contact the DOT. We felt the road is going to be causing some real problem's with Bicycles, Motorcycles etc. Also my new E- mail address is andypeters520@msn.com.
By Charlene Woodley
Feb 19, 2006
What is the best guide book for Mt. Lemmon? And how much did the fires alter routes and aproaches as listed in the guidebooks?
By John Peterson
Feb 19, 2006
The best guidebook by far is Steiger. This book was a labor of love and it shows. One of those books that I'll always treasure.

And I just found one on Amazon for $8.00 (mint condition!). Sorry - but I just bought it since the pages fell out of my old one.

Nothing really wrong with Squeezing the Lemon - all the newer sport routes are there.

I don't recommend Green's Rock Climbing Arizona book. It one of the Falcon "drive by" guidebooks that makes me sick. Buy a guidebook from a local, not some guy cherry-picking the work of others.
By jbak
Feb 20, 2006
The choice of guidebooks depends mostly on whether you plan on trad or sport. Squeezing The Lemmon is good for both but is getting to be out of date. Tyler's Sport Select is a bit less out of date but covers only sport and not all crags. Eric seems to be coming out with a Squeezing update sometime soon.

Steiger's guide is WAY out of date, but a nice historical document. The BEST guide is the old under-the-counter Summit Hut guide of which I have one of about 10 copies.
By Jimbo
Feb 24, 2006
While Steiger's guide is great from a historical perspective, the new Squeezing the Lemmon II is the the most current and comprehensive guide
available.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Feb 27, 2006
The "Sport Guide" that is mentioned by the venerable jbak is no longer in print. Squeezing the Lemmon II will tell you where the sport routes are. Simply look at the description Jbak if you see [B,C] that means it is a sport route. As you say, Squeezing the Lemmon II is a little out of date,but only if you climb here all the time. There are more than enough great routes for the visitor or newly arrived. A few areas have a lot of new stuff. Troll Wall, Boot Hill, and The Chessmen. Sun Spot Crags in Molino (great for winter) and The Steep (great for summer) are not in SQ II but will be in the supplement. With luck I will get a supplement out before too long. There are 1500+ routes in SQ II. that should keep most folks busy for a while. If you drag out the hexes Jbak you might even find a route or two you have not done. In fact if you can show me that you have lead half of the 1500+ routes in SQ II I will give you a supplement for free.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Mar 7, 2006
Sun Spot Crags, Mount Lemmon's newest area is located just north of Molino Campground and now has over 30 new routes from 5.7 to 5.12 with more to come. The climbs are both sport and trad and range in length from 30 to 100 feet. The approach is short 10 to 20 minutes depending on which crags you visit. You can climb here in the coldest of Tucson weather if the sun is out. If it isn't sunny bring a warm jacket and you can still climb.
By Timothy Roehr
From: Tucson,Az
May 23, 2006
Rappel Rock, Raven Rock, The Fortress, Branch-Out Crag and parts of Panarama Wall are closed from 15 March through 30 June.
By Joseph Stover
From: Batesville, AR
Aug 28, 2006
Just to reiterate in case anyone has any doubts: Watch out for snakes!(and other things that can be dangerous also)

About two weeks ago I was out at Hairpin looking at the new landscape. It was sundown, when activity is higher I think. I came pretty close to stepping on a rattlesnake on the left side(facing the road) on my way out towards the tunnels under the road(I never noticed those before). It was about 3 feet long and about a 1.5 inch diameter, I think it was a female because it was really fat and tapered off quickly near the rattle, which someone told me is a charictaristic of females. It was curled up and immediately rattled, uncurled, and slithered off to the left once I hopped down a big boulder about 8 feet away from it and quickly became aware of it due to the rattle. Had it been curled within 2 feet of the base of the boulder, I would have been in high danger of being bitten. So watch out!
By 1Eric Rhicard
Aug 29, 2006
Having hiked, hunted, and climbed here for 25 years I have seen dozens of rattlesnakes. I have seen them every month of the year, from elevations of 2000 feet to the top of Mt. Lemmon (Murray Wall). I have seen my dog walk right over them. I have seen Bob Kerry step next to them. I have seen Bob jump straight up in the air when one rattled and land right where he started thus giving the snake ample opportunity to strike. With hundreds of friends and acquaintances covering thousands of miles not one has ever been bitten. Not that it can't happen. The chances are miniscule. If you do get bit try not to panic and get to a hospital as soon as possible and you will live. Statistics show that the people that do get killed are between the ages of 18 and 24, male with tattoos, and they have been drinking. Good luck!
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Sep 14, 2006
Definitely don't get that "Squeezing the Lemmon II" book...just kidding..stop by one of the Summit Huts on Speedway or Wetmore and pick up a copy..

Mt Lemmon is directly north of Tucson and accessed from the northeast side of the city..depending on what part of town you live would say anywhere from 10-30 minutes to get to the bottom of the highway..
By A.P.T.
From: Truckee,Ca
Sep 15, 2006
"Squeezing The Lemmon II" can also be purchased at "Le Buzz Cafe" 9121 E. Tanque Verde Rd.. 749-3903
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Feb 5, 2007
U.S. judge upholds Mt. Lemmon user charges
By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.24.2007

azstarnet.com/metro/165947
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Feb 5, 2007
Previous to Jan 07 you could also use the National Parks Golden Eagle pass which is now no longer available.

The new "America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass" which is the new interagency program pass which cost $80 will gain you access to all Federal Lands. One pass fits all.

Looking for more info....

store.usgs.gov/pass/general.ht...
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Jul 11, 2007
Mt. Lemmon is on the cover of "Rock & Ice" this month.

Nice pic of Eric Scully on Steve's Arete.
By CALEB ANDERSON
Aug 17, 2010
Lemmon Heads
By Derek Anderson
From: Tucson,AZ
Apr 21, 2011
Lemmonhead indeed , nice video Caleb..... Bless the Catalinas, and Lemmon very humbled to be able to climb here..Thanks to all who have established the climbing here :) Its amazing!
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Oct 27, 2011
Just would like to add, for trad climbing on Mt Lemmon..this is not the place to push your limit on lead for beginning trad climbers..

Polished, balancy moves with old-school ratings (ie compressed ie =sometimes 1970s ratings, ie sandbagged and watch the date on FAs) and possibly based on people who were experts at placing passive pro way back when...

By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 27, 2011
Gotta agree with Christian. Generally speaking Mt. Lemmon has trickier pro than most places that I have climbed.
By Myk
From: tucson, az
May 22, 2012
Might be old news to some, but looks like no more parking passes needed for mt Lemmon. emol.org/tucson/mtlemmon/

"The fee was cancelled after a 9th U.S. Curcuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 9, 2012 that the Coronado National Forest fees violate federal law. The $5 daily, or $20 annual, fee was collected from all drivers who parked their cars on the road to Summerhaven. Residents and workers in Summerhaven were exempt from the fee.

The fee station, by Milepost 5, is no longer open while the Forest Service reevaluates its options. The lawsuit, filed by several Tucson residents, objected to the fees for Mt. Lemmon."
By jbak
Dec 8, 2012
A shout out to Jeremy Parks... who after a shaky start, fought through to do his 1st-ever FA, an as-yet-unnamed, 2-star, 5.11+/5.12- at the Tusk. Way to go Remy !
By Mike Farnsworth
Feb 7, 2014
Hey Mt. Lemmon climbers!
I'm headed to Lemmon/Cochise for the first week in March and am requesting some beta: I'm climbing with my girlfriend, who is most interested in 8-11, while I'd like to either get some mileage on a handful of 12s or work a good 13a or 13b. We will only climb at Lemmon for a couple days max. Does anyone have any good crag suggestions that also take Early March weather into consideration?

Thanks in advance! You can PM me or post on here .

Mike
By Mike Farnsworth
Feb 7, 2014
Hey Mt. Lemmon climbers!
I'm headed to Lemmon/Cochise for the first week in March and am requesting some beta: I'm climbing with my girlfriend, who is most interested in 8-11, while I'd like to either get some mileage on a handful of 12s or work a good 13a or 13b. We will only climb at Lemmon for a couple days max. Does anyone have any good crag suggestions that also take Early March weather into consideration?

Thanks in advance! You can PM me or post on here .

Mike