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The Fortress

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
As You Like It 
Black Sheep 
Brightest Fire, The 
Camelot 
Coup de' tat 
Cyberwanker 
Disfigured Foreigner 
Eureka 
Finishing School 
Fisherman's Elbow 
Flyer Starter 
Forced Stress 
Fort Stress 
Gargoyle 
Gettin' Off The Porch 
Granite of the Apes 
Hard Day at The Orifice 
Heel-A Monster 
Hereiophobia 
Huck Fin 
In Search of Silence 
No Name 
No name one 
Oedipus Complex 
Orifice Politics 
Pitched Battle 
Quartz Jester 
Rupley Route, The 
Sir Clipalot 
Sneak Attack 
Steel Crazy 
Tres Frijoles 
Twice As Nice 
Unattended Consequences 
Yo Yo Pinnacle 
Unsorted Routes:

The Fortress 


Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 8,500'
Location: 32.4318, -110.7985 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 103,789
Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: James DeRoussel on Sep 9, 2002
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Jon and Kane bringing Badu to the Orifice Wall
Closed to climbing, March 15-June 30 MORE INFO >>>

Description 

The Fortress is a great place for a long day of climbing. Its location near the summit of Mt Lemmon means generally cool weather and great views. It has the longest sport routes in Tucson, some over three pitches in length, as well as some gear routes. They range from 5.7-5.12 in difficulty, with a high concentration of stars in a relatively small area.

Pretty hard to beat this crag!


Getting There 

Driving up the Catalina Highway, turn right on the road to the ski valley. Continue past the ski valley, through a gate, and down a rough paved road. Drive to the gravel parking lot on the left just before the observatory. Park here and continue on foot, up the road, following the 'trail' sign. (Stay left when you see the sign at the observatory).

Ten minutes will bring you to a metal shed on the right hand side of the road. There is a spring here on the left...its probably safe, but drink at your own risk.

Continue past this shed for another couple hundred yards until you see a green transformer on the right. A trail will lead off left, downhill toward the crags. Five minutes on this trail will put you between the Ravens and the Fortress. Keep right and follow trail down to the back of the Fortress. From here, a ten minute bushwack down and around the eastern slope will put you at the climbs. Hug the base of the rock for the path of least resistance.


35 Total Routes


['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',15],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',3],['5.9',4],['5.10',9],['5.11',7],['5.12',7],['5.13',5],['>=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 Fortress:
Twice As Nice   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 250'   
Fisherman's Elbow   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Sport, 3 pitches, 350'   
The Rupley Route   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 450'   
Steel Crazy   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 450'   
Fort Stress   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 400'   
Tres Frijoles   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Sport, 3 pitches, 380'   
Gargoyle   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Sport, 2 pitches, 160'   
Sir Clipalot   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ E3 5c     Sport, 3 pitches, 240'   
Flyer Starter   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a     Sport, 45'   
Disfigured Foreigner   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 40'   
Unattended Consequences   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 65'   
Gettin' Off The Porch   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 55'   
Hard Day at The Orifice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Huck Fin   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ E6 6b     Sport, 55'   
Oedipus Complex   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ E6 6b     Sport, 40'   
Orifice Politics   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ E6 6b     Sport, 105'   
Eureka   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ E7 6c     Sport, 75'   
Heel-A Monster   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ E7 6c     Sport, 100'   
Coup de' tat   5.13 8a 29 X- E7 6c     Sport, 100'   
Granite of the Apes   5.13 8a 29 X- E7 6c     Sport, 90'   
Browse More Classics in The Fortress

Featured Route For The Fortress
Luis getting to the second crux of Granite of the Apes, and Daron Robertson working Coup d'tat

Granite of the Apes 5.13 8a 29 X- E7 6c  AZ : Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin... : ... : The Fortress
Yet another pearl of the Orifice Wall, crazy steep, beta intensive and ridiculously fun.Three distinct hard sections lead to the anchors. The climbing is sustained, so it is key to learn how to use and milk the few rests. The ride is not over until is over.During rainy season, water seeping from the chimney at the top of A Hard Day in the Orifice wets some key holds in the middle section, making the red point quite elusive....[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

News and Events For The Fortress
Photos of The Fortress Slideshow Add Photo
Greg high on Quartz Jester
Greg high on Quartz Jester
Taking shelter under the Orifice Wall while we wait out the storm.
Taking shelter under the Orifice Wall while we wai...
Working a new one on the Orifice Wall.  Photo Geir Hundal
Working a new one on the Orifice Wall. Photo Geir...
The Fortress
The Fortress
Greg leading the way on the first pitch of Sir Clipalot.
Greg leading the way on the first pitch of Sir Cli...
Busy day at the Orifice Wall with the Big Dogs running wild.  Jesse Shultz working Eureka 13- and Luis working the Hard Day At The Orifice 12.
Busy day at the Orifice Wall with the Big Dogs run...
Looking down the tunnel you climb through on Inner Passage (old school 5.7). Pretty crazy feature to find 100 feet up a climb.
Looking down the tunnel you climb through on Inner...
Puppy dogs staying on the porch.  Jesse, Mikie, Chelsea, Vince, EFR, Ryan and Luis.  Braxton took the shot while working Eureka.
Puppy dogs staying on the porch. Jesse, Mikie, Ch...
The Fortress, as seen from the top of a route at Murray Wall.  Wilderness of Rocks in shadow;  front range beyond that.
The Fortress, as seen from the top of a route at M...
Unknown climbers (some gal and guy on what I believe is Alcazar 5.11c) not long before a monsoon walloped us all off the crag. <br /> <br />July 2007
Unknown climbers (some gal and guy on what I belie...
The Orifice: an awesome crowd in a rainy day...
The Orifice: an awesome crowd in a rainy day...
Second pitch of steel crazy.
Second pitch of steel crazy.
The light at the end of the tunnel on Inner Passage. You wiggle through the slot, look straight down the cliff, then shimmy your way up the refrigerator block blocking the exit of the tunnel.
The light at the end of the tunnel on Inner Passag...
It's always Russian roulette climbing at the summit during monsoon season.  Got to love Mt Lemmon.
It's always Russian roulette climbing at the summi...
Layers of shadows over Tucson as seen from the second pitch of Sir Clipalot.
Layers of shadows over Tucson as seen from the sec...
Matt Birch on Hard Day at the Orifice.
Matt Birch on Hard Day at the Orifice.
Silhouette.
Silhouette.
Another hard day at the Orifice...Wall.
Another hard day at the Orifice...Wall.
Desperate climbing aside, Greg getting another impressive onsight on Cyberwanker.
Desperate climbing aside, Greg getting another imp...
Helluva view from the Orifice Wall.
Helluva view from the Orifice Wall.
Toofast at the base of Orifice Politics
Toofast at the base of Orifice Politics
Comments on The Fortress Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 11, 2013
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Jul 18, 2007

Instructions for getting off the Fortress:

After topping out, head north into flat and vegetated area. Locate gully between the West Pillar where most of the routes top out and the East Pillar. From the top of the West Pillar, the climbing up onto the East Pillar (where you can walk down from) looks substantially harder than it actually is when you're looking up at it from within the gully.

To get into the gully, downclimb into it by going back south, then east, then north again into the cleft. Head north into the gully about 2/3 of the way until you see a riblike formation of rock on your left. Across from the rib you can see the obvious weakness heading up the East Pillar. There's an initial dynamic move, maybe about 5.8, to get established on the slab, then about 20 feet of easy 5th classing to get out (5.2-5.3?)..

After getting your bearings the first time, you can pretty much head diagonally straight from the top-outs to the downclimb into the gully.

PS there's another option about 15 feet further climber's left, which involves a small traverse left then super juggy holds up and out... (avoids the 5.8 move onto the face climber's right on the first option)..haven't done it but I guess most people think it's easier..

By Braxtron
From: ...
Jul 25, 2008

I say the Orifice wall should be called Hardbody wall and the its next new route called 'Chesthair Turtleneck.'

By Luke Bertelsen
Jun 25, 2009

I know there was a lot of action up at the Orifice wall last season. Anyone care to list the routes from right to left as you approach the big ledge? A few of the route descriptions don't really give much info as to where each given route is compared to the other routes.

Thanks.

By 1Eric Rhicard
Oct 14, 2009

Weather up top is fantastic. Perfect temps on the sunny sides and at the Orifice. Get up there Luis

By Joe Kreidel
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 14, 2010

The routes from right to left:

(First three start along the cable route)

The Brightest Fire 11c
Huck Fin 12
Disfigured Foreigner 12-

(Next three routes are after the cable)

Oedipus Complex 12-
Old red tagged project?
Gettin Off The Porch 12-

(The remaining routes all start down the stepped slab, on the lower tier)

Coup de'tat 13-/Orifice Politics 12c
Project?
Hard Day At The Orifice 12b
Eureka 13-

By Hendrixson
Administrator
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 4, 2010

Anyone know what route this is? I thought we were on either Twice As Nice or Fisherman's Elbow but neither description matches. Perhaps it is "Nice BBDs" with a third pitch added? The location seems about right anyway.

Descending the west side of the Fortress one encounters two bolted lines. The rightmost of the routes consists of three pitches:

1) The first pitch ascends bright white rock for 80ft until a ledge with anchors is reached. The climbing is ~5.9.

2) The second pitch climbs bulgy, black and green rock. This rock is reminiscent of the rock on the Orifice Wall. The anchors for this pitch are immediately below a ledge. Scars in the rock show that they had been moved a foot or two lower at some point. I am tempted to say the route ended here at one time. The climbing is ~5.10 and 80ft or so.

3) The third pitch crosses two ledges and is significantly easier than the first two pitches. The rock is standard Fortress rock with plenty of good holds. The climbing is ~5.8 and 100ft or so.

By Meghan
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Oct 17, 2011

Someone has scattered rat poison around the base of The Orifice, presumably to kill the mice that occasionally raid lunches. This is obviously NOT COOL. Whomever did it obviously wasn't thinking about the squirrels, chipmunks, birds, reptiles that eat them, and other people's dogs. We may not like for animals to get into our things, but this is their habitat-- even the mice-- not ours. Not that any rangers would ever know about it, but this would also be a great way to get access to a crag taken away. Everyone there today was on the same page that this is VERY bad form by some fellow climber. Whoever you are, please don't be an embarrassment to our sport or a menace to the environment again.

By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 17, 2011

Ah crap. This mess will need to be cleaned up. Thanks for the info Meghan.

By Jon Ruland
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 6, 2012

speaking of cleaning up a mess (yeah yeah i know it was last year) can we clean up all these routes into separate categories? e.g. orifice wall, fortress south face, etc. right now it's confusing as all hell.

By Red
From: Arizona
Jul 10, 2012

Jon, PM one of these three administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick
I'd say James would be your best bet since he created this page.

By JJ Schlick
Administrator
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 10, 2012

I can help with that. If you guys want to create new "areas" within this one, and tell me which routes go where, I can relocate them to your new areas. PM and let me know.

By JJ Schlick
Administrator
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 10, 2012

Now that I think about it, it will be more work than I thought. But we just did it for the Winslow Wall, so...

By 1Eric Rhicard
Jul 10, 2012

Of course Jon could just start climbing them all and then like those who have climbed most of them he would not be so confused. Gotta spoon feed these kids everything. You know where Steel Crazy starts so work in either direction from there. It isn't that hard. Better yet ask someone to color code the hangers. Better yet we should chop 3 routes after the first one on the right then 3 more after route 5 and so on. Less routes means less confusion. No No never mind, Think of it as a puzzle Jon or a video game where you actually have to play with your body to win.

WHAT WOULD DON BULAND SAY ABOUT THIS JON? Haha!

If only someone would do a guidebook. Oh wait someone is working on one.

Okay now go back to the first paragraph.

By Steve Pulver
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 12, 2012

JJ, the obvious answer here is to promote Rhicard to administrator status and let him organize the entire mountain. (seriously)

By JJ Schlick
Administrator
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 12, 2012

Hey Steve, I actually proposed the idea of "guest admin" privileges to Andy not so long ago for cases as such. I'll look into it, but Richard would probably need some stronger coffee for such a task...

By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 12, 2012

+1 for Eric fixing the area up.

By Joe Kreidel
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 12, 2012

Isn't Eric already organizing the entire mountain?

By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From: Phoenix, AZ
Sep 16, 2012

Just chiming in here because I'd love to see some organization for this area as well. I was up there yesterday for the first time, and between this site and Squeezing The Lemmon II there was essentially no useful information for The Fortress. We found some cool climbs (a bunch of nice vertical sport climbs at the base of the Right Fortress) but I have no idea what they were.

Putting "dead tree" on a topo is f'ing useless if I can see 15 dead trees from any given place at the base of a wall.

By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 17, 2012

Peter,

The guidebook was printed in 1997. In 2003 there was a huge fire that killed a bunch of trees. I think this area was part of what was burned, hence the multitude of dead trees.

I agree it would be nice if this area were subdivided and reorganized, though. Edit: reorganized on MP, that is.

By Jimbo
Sep 18, 2012

Interesting. First time I went down to the Fortress with STL II I had no trouble figuring out what was what. Sometimes I did actually have to match features on the topo with the actual rock in front of me.
It does seem the ability to read a guide book has diminished in the last ten years. Not sure why that is. Maybe too much info being spoon fed to the masses has decreased the ability and desire to figure stuff out your self.

By Rob Edwards
Aug 11, 2013

Orifice Wall is the best-equipped cliff I've ever seen, with chain draws and confidence-inspiring steel carabiners on almost ever bolt. The routes are a blast, too. Bravo!!!