|Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway)
The road up Mount Lemmon, at The Hairpin. The cli...
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:
Windy Point East
Windy Point West
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
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.
Browse More Classics in Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway)
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway):
Featured Route For Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway)
: Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin...
: ... : Mean Mistreater Wall
This route is located in the middle of the Mean Mistreater formation. --Starts with a bolt up high and goes straight up face to a finger crack at top of P1 to chain anchors. --P2 head out right and then up to bolt 1 then back left to bolt 2. A fall at the crux could be a bad one because of the ledge. Tricky sequence on this crux so watch the fall. then up crack to short face and chain anchors. --This is an excellent climb in a beautiful setting. A true Mt. Lemmon classic. What a blast!!...[more] Browse More Classics in AZ
|Photos of Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway) Slideshow
Early March 2003. Some short ice not far from Ski...
Golden light and storm clouds low on the hill, Mt....
Has anyone ever been to this crag before 2007?
How about this free standing tower! Anyone been t...
Sunset on Lemmon
Jim Scott climbing on 12/15/07. Elevation 5700ft....
Mt. Lemmon Ice. Jimbo on the thin stuff. Sorry we...
Mister T's Chosspile!
Spring time flowers on the Mt. Lemmon highway
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake. Saw it hiking out afte...
Starting the camo process.
One of my favorite shots
Ryan D on lead.
Climbing the beginning moves of Airgasm-5.10
Cres looking confident...
View from above.
Electric...photo taken at Jailhouse rock.
Meet Mr. Horny Toad. Found this critter in the gr...
5.9 mixed route off of GH trail.
Savo and Babo, with a durp
Nice light low on the mountain, Mt. Lemmon Hwy.
|Comments on Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway)
|By Andy Bennett|
From: Tucson, AZ
Apr 3, 2013
!!!ALWAYS DOUBLE-CHECK IN-SITU CARABINERS ON MT. LEMMON!!!
It goes without saying that the responsible, observant, and life-loving climber always does this. It is easy to become complacent though, especially when sport cragging. In light of several recent casualties, and at least one fatality due to rope-severing "perma-biners", I wanted to remind everyone to do this. Many newer routes on Mt. Lemmon are going up decked-out with biner-anchors (thank you Jim and Eric), while some older routes are being updated with them. Most of these are aluminum alloy carabiners however, and some are being quickly worn down on even somewhat-popular climbs. I've seen some pretty worn and scary biners lately and have replaced the ones I could, unfortunately just with more normal Al biners.
Make sure to inspect all "permanent" hardware before trusting it. That means anchors, project draws that've been up for a while, and "perma-draws". Nothing is permanent. If a biner is wearing thin, deeply grooved, at all sharp, or otherwise sketchy, replace it; your life is worth $15. Use steel carabiners if you happen to have them. I'm going to start carrying around a grip of these whenever I go out. Though even steel biners wear out...
Play it safe, happy climbing!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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.
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.
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
|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|
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: Santa Barbara, CA
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!
From: Tucson, Az
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..
Sep 15, 2006
"Squeezing The Lemmon II" can also be purchased at "Le Buzz Cafe" 9121 E. Tanque Verde Rd.. 749-3903
|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....
From: Tucson, Az
Jul 11, 2007
Mt. Lemmon is on the cover of "Rock & Ice" this month.
Nice pic of Eric Scully on Steve's Arete.
|By Derek Anderson|
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!
From: Tucson, Az
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...
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 27, 2011
Gotta agree with Christian. Generally speaking Mt. Lemmon has trickier pro than most places that I have climbed.
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."
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 !