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Southern Arizona

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Arivaca Lake 
Baboquivari Peak 
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Cholla Mountain 
Cochise Stronghold 
Dry Canyon, The 
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Mendoza Canyon (aka Coyote Domes) 
Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalina Mountains) 
Mustang, The 
Newman Peak- "The Shady Lady?" 
Rincon Mountains 
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Texas Canyon 
Tinajas Altas 
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Tucson Area Bouldering 
Tucson Buildering 
Tucson Mountains 

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Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

AZ Trail - Fish Canyon Rd. to Helvetia Rd.
Some dirt road, mostly singletrack Near Patagonia, AZ
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Southern Arizona 

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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.

The West Stronghold on a gorgeous November night. <br /> <br />
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.  <br /> <br />Photo by: Aaron Lavinsky
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.

2,459 Total Routes

['4 Stars',85],['3 Stars',578],['2 Stars',1108],['1 Star',569],['Bomb',19]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Southern Arizona:
What's My Line?   5.6 4c 14 V S 4b A0 R     Trad, Aid, 3 pitches, 400'   East Stronghold : Cochise Dome (What's My Lin...
Ewephoria   5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b     Trad, Sport, 5 pitches, 750'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
The Wasteland   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 600'   East Stronghold : The Wasteland
Moby Dick   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 700'   West Stronghold : Whale Dome
Steel Crazy   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 450'   8 - Summit Crags : The Fortress
Nightstalker   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 120'   East Stronghold : Owl Rock
Bee Line   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a R     Trad, 3 pitches, 280'   East Stronghold : Stronghold Dome
Absinthe of Mallet   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Trad, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Forest Lawn   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Rockfellow Group : Bastion Towers
Endgame   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
The Peacemaker   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Sport, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Days of Future Passed   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b PG13     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
Warpaint   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b PG13     Trad, 5 pitches, 680'   West Stronghold : Westworld Dome
Stampede   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 7 pitches, 800'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Abracadaver   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 500'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
Steve's Arete   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   3 - Windy Point East : Hunchback Pinnacle
Hard Day at The Orifice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   8 - Summit Crags : The Fortress
Orifice Politics   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ E6 6b     Sport, 105'   8 - Summit Crags : The Fortress
Coup de' tat   5.13 8a 29 X- E7 6c     Sport, 100'   8 - Summit Crags : The Fortress
Doubt   5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 160'   Reef of Rocks : Aegir
Browse More Classics in Southern Arizona

Featured Route For Southern Arizona
Joe Kreidel on Cig Machine (V3), Panther Peak.

Cig Machine V7 7A+  AZ : Southern Arizona : ... : Split Boulder
Great pocket and block climbing on a tall, steep wall with a perfect landing. Afternoon shade.Squat start just left of the buried rock in two juggy pockets. Make few moves up to a small cobble/pocket (the broken hold) then make a long move directly right to a block pinch. (Edit: The new beta involves the hueco to the right to gain the block pinch.) Move across and then up to a jug. From here a long move up left to a white pocket, then continue straight up to eventually top out at a small palo ve...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

News and Events For Southern Arizona
Photos of Southern Arizona Slideshow Add Photo
Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona.  <br /> <br />Photo by: Aaron Lavinsky
Orifice Politics, Mount Lemmon, Arizona.

Photo b...
Coronado NM, Southern Arizona
Coronado NM, Southern Arizona
Saguaro NP, Southern Arizona
Saguaro NP, Southern Arizona
Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Southern Arizona
Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Southern Arizona
Maybe a barrel cactus?  September 2012.
Maybe a barrel cactus? September 2012.
In Saguaro national park.  September 2012.
In Saguaro national park. September 2012.
Another shot.  September 2012.
Another shot. September 2012.
Comments on Southern Arizona Add Comment
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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.