Cochise Stronghold is a spectacular landscape of rugged canyons and towering granite domes. While there is certainly something for everyone in this vast area, those seeking traditional, multi pitch climbing will have a special appreciation for climbing here in the Dragoon Mountains.

The amount of climbing in Cochise Stronghold is absurd, and most of the rock is of outstanding quality. Many super classic routes, put up by pioneering young climbers since the 1970's, ascend the various spires and domes in the area. Most of the quality crack climbs in Southern Arizona are found here, as are some of the longest routes in this part of the state. Many of these routes are difficult, committing, and very runout. If you cant climb them this way, go climb something else. Though bolts have made their way into the Stronghold, placing fixed gear here is still frowned upon. Additionally, this area is of great cultural significance to many people. Treat it with due respect.

Climbing is Cochise Stronghold is a true backcountry experience. The remote setting, coupled with the committing nature of many of the climbs here, require preparation beyond that of roadside cragging on Mt Lemmon. The terrain is rugged and maze-like, and it is generally easier to get lost than to get where you are going. Allow plenty of time for approaches and err on the side of caution.

While current closures do not effect the Sheepshead Area, a large portion of the climbing in Cochise Stronghold is closed annually for raptor nesting. Current closures are from February 15 - June 30 and include the entire Rockfellow Group and What's My Line Dome. Check with the Forest Service for changes and current closures.

For more information and some interesting background on Cochise Stronghold, see Bob Kerry's guide 'Backcountry Climbing in Southern Arizona.'

Getting There

From Tucson, had east on I-10 to exit #303 (Tombstone/Bisbee). Turn right (south) on Arizona Highway 80 and drive for about 20 miles. Just before Tombstone, turn left onto Middlemarch Road. Follow this rough gravel road for almost ten miles to Forest Road 687. Make a left, towards the West Stronghold and follow this dirt road north. Make the first right turn on a dirt road that leads past a windmill to the road's end. Park and hike across the grassy field to the obvious domes.

40 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Sheepshead Area (Southwest) Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Sheepshead Area (Southwest)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Trad 5 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Mystery of the Desert
Trad 5 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Ides of Middlemarch
Trad 5 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
The Peacemaker
Sport 7 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Phony Pony
Trad 5 pitches
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Absinthe of Mallet
Trad 7 pitches
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
The Climb Too Tough To Die
Trad 6 pitches
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
The Tombstone Stripper
Trad 6 pitches
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Dark Horse
Trad 6 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Tour Buses Welcome
Sport 4 pitches
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Get The Flock Out Of Here
Trad 5 pitches
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Unmitigated Audacity
Sport 7 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Sport 7 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Sheep Thrills
Trad, Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Tiny But Exciting
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Ewephoria Sheepshead
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 5 pitches
Mystery of the Desert Muttonhead
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 5 pitches
Ides of Middlemarch Sheepshead
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 5 pitches
The Peacemaker Sheepshead
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport 7 pitches
Phony Pony Sheepshead
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 5 pitches
Absinthe of Mallet Sheepshead
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 7 pitches
The Climb Too Tough To Die Sheepshead
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13 Trad 6 pitches
The Tombstone Stripper Sheepshead
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 6 pitches
Dark Horse Sheepshead
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad 6 pitches
Tour Buses Welcome Muttonhead
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport 4 pitches
Get The Flock Out Of Here Sheepshead
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad 5 pitches
Unmitigated Audacity Sheepshead
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport 7 pitches
Stampede Sheepshead
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport 7 pitches
Sheep Thrills Crisis Center
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad, Sport
Tiny But Exciting Muttonhead
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Sheepshead Area (Southwest) »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


Wes Turner
az / pa
Wes Turner   az / pa
Well, you have to follow the sun. Obviously the east facing cliffs are going to get sun first and shade last. So the rckfellow groups east side is an option in the morning....ex: "forest lawn" etc....The Out of towners dome should be good in the AM..And the wasteland dome should be an okay AM hit. .Whats my line dome should be okay earlyish....PM climbing would consist of the west side of the Rockfellow group ex :"End game", "days of future passed"...Climbs Like "absinthe of mallet" at the sheepshead would have to wait till at least noon I would think. I would recommend following the sun around the Rockfellow group. If it is a windy day it doesn't matter how much sun ya got when youre 600' + up...its still gonna be pretty cold..If I were there I'd be out no matter what...Cochise is the best..have fun Dec 16, 2004
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
"Residents and guests may fly into the Tucson or Sierra Vista airports by private jet, then drive in. Or enjoy a personal limousine or helicopter escort to the property."

Damn where I'd put that helicopter of mine?

"Welcome to Bachmann Springs, a tabernacle of well-being"

-where body, mind, soul and spirit can live in peace and harmony
-a place of great spiritual tranquility
-where prejudice does not exist
-where people can value humankind and find a sanctum for the lights of their lives "

If you gotsta a helicopter, then we won't be prejudiced against you hahaha...who writes this crap?… Apr 13, 2007
Several years ago I met the guy who owns / owned a ranch nearby and learned quite a bit of history about the area, and was digging thru old photos and found this one.…
And one of the obvious things I learned was why they called it Sheeps' Head ... ;) Once you 'get it' it's unmistakable ... had no idea it was a great climb ... cool to see you folks enjoy it. There is a hill nearby called Haberstock Hill that has a US Geo marker on the top, no real challenge for climbers but provides a nice view of the area in all directions. Aug 21, 2007
chris tregge
chris tregge   Beersconsin  
Are you meeting in the parking area or at the dome? Cuz it would be easier for you to meet in the parking area and hike out together. The directions to the parking area on this site are spot on. Do not take a low clearance vehicle like a Civic on the roads if there has been any rains, we had a Malibu and bottomed out frequently on the way to the Sheepshead/Isle of You. So park at the north area of the parking "lot" for Sheepshead where the barbed wire fence has a gate. Go through the gate, closing it behind you, and trend north on the trail until you get to another barbed wire fence which will parallel the trail towards the Sheepshead. This is what it will look like at that point:…
Follow the trail for 15 minutes or so up some hills and eventually down and back up out of a wash. You will see the dome up and to the left. The trail then goes through another fence gate, and winds its way up towards the dome. There are several spur trails and it probably doesn't matter which you take, but follow the cairns and it will get pretty steep/scrambly. At that point you are in full view of the dome and won't get lost. Once you get to the base, orient yourself to what climb you came up upon first, which will probably be Peacemaker. Kerry's backcountry guide and the Falcon guide to AZ are good, and print out the info on the climbs from this site also. We used a conglomerate of all 3 to find the routes. If you plan on doing Ewphoria, it was a little tricky for us to find based on the written description here, but keep going up the northwest side of the dome and you will find it. What are you planning to do? Nov 7, 2007
brent pohlmann
San Francisco, CA
brent pohlmann   San Francisco, CA
What is the weather like at Sheepshead in mid-May? Too hot to climb? Apr 30, 2009
For those of you who have Google Earth, I have posted two files that may be helpful for you.

The first has driving directions to the Sheepshead, The second has the 1.3 mile approach and most of the major multipitch lines.

Both of these can be viewed in 3D from any aspect and printed.

You can download the files from…

Google Earth can be downloaded for free at Oct 8, 2009
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
Tyler Williams   Flagstaff, AZ
Hey Everyone,

I was out climbing on Sheepshead 1/2-1/5/2010 and I think I lost my orange olympus tough digital camera in the parking lot. it has a cracked screen and thousands of photos on it. Really I just want my memory card - if you found it and want the camera that's fine you can keep it as a reward. Either way, please just email me if you think you found it and i'll send you my address.

BTW, in early January the weather was perfect for climbing and damn cold for sleeping.

Thanks! Jan 9, 2010
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
Tyler Williams   Flagstaff, AZ
some good photos of a recent trip:… Jan 11, 2010
We recently completed some routes on the Sheephead this March. Really awsome routes. Totally underestimated the approach and descent time and effort needed. The climing seemed like the easy part.

Anyway, I would like to thank Geir Handal for all the topos and route descriptions for the Sheephead. Great work. I will be looking forward to returning to complete more routes.

AB Mar 25, 2010
you're very welcome! :) Mar 26, 2010
Dan Carter
Las Cruces, NM
Dan Carter   Las Cruces, NM
Does anyone know anything about a route to the right of Too tough to die? It starts in a nice finger/hand crack and goes through some buttonhead bolts and tough moves to a small seam and slab with little pro. There is an old piton to the right but I went straight up.

We did two pitches along this route and linked up with too tough to die in order to get off before dark. The route would probably keep going up, away from bolts. The first pitch felt like 5.11 but protection wasn't so good and the old bolts weren't very assuring. Dec 30, 2010
David Graham
David Graham   Dallas
just wanted to note that this area is about a 45 min approach for future reference. Cause I couldn't find that info anywhere else on here. Apr 2, 2015
found a pair of climbing shoes coming down the descent gully off the sheepshead (Saturday, 1/6), send me a message with a description so I can get them back to you! Jan 6, 2018
kmchugh   AZ
4/10/18: There are actively mating peregrine falcons on the Sheepshead. They are using Absinthe of Mallet/Hardskins of Our Forefathers P2 area and Ides of Middlemarch P2/3 area frequently as well as Crisis Center area/the gulley south of the Sheepshead. We are all aware that the falcon closures haven't been updated in years, so please consider choosing other routes this spring and giving the birds some space in the Sheepshead area. Thanks :). Apr 18, 2018