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.
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.
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.
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.
2,556 Total Routes
['4 Stars',80],['3 Stars',597],['2 Stars',1138],['1 Star',608],['Bomb',19]
Browse More Classics in Southern Arizona
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Southern Arizona:
Featured Route For Southern Arizona
Credibility Gap 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b AZ
: Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin...
: ... : Goosehead
I did the center variation. Delicate start over bulge into crack. Follow fantastic slightly larger than finger crack up to bolt. Clip the bolt and choose your own adventure. I've heard the left variation might be slightly easier, but don't quote me on that! Regardless, this is an amazing route, great gear & hard climbing. Continue upwards, eventually traversing right. ...[more] Browse More Classics in AZ
Local Information for Southern Arizona
Latest Regional Forum Messages
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.