Cochise Stronghold Climbing
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For the latest information, go to this link: fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronad…
Please take note of the request for climbers to avoid disturbing raptors if at all possible.
Self-policing our behavior is MUCH better than an outright ban!
CASA Page on Raptors for more information: theclimbershome.org/breedin…
Douglas Ranger District Tel: 520.364.6816.
Climbing in Cochise Stronghold is a 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.
The amount of rock in Cochise Stronghold is large, and some of the rock is of outstanding quality. Many super classic routes, put up by pioneering climbers since the 1970's, ascend the various spires and domes in the area. Many of the quality crack climbs in Southern Arizona are found here, as are some of the longest routes in this part of the state. Some of these historic routes are difficult, committing, and runout. If you can't climb them this way, go climb something else. With regards to new route development, this area is evolving. If you are considering a new line, ask yourself if you are truly contributing something of quality to what is already there. You may be looking at a line that has already been done! Please ask around before you drill!
This area is of great cultural significance to some people. Treat it with due respect. User impact has increased at the Stronghold in recent years, particularly human waste. Please pack everything out!
Cochise is climbable year round. However, only the most heat-tolerant individuals climb there in the summer, and early. Spring and fall are the best times, but winter offers good climbing weather on most days as well, particularly in sunny exposures.
Current closures for raptor nesting (as of 2011) include Rockfellow Group and Cochise (WML) Dome from March 1 - June 30. Official closure details are posted above, and in the Rockfellow and What's My Line areas on this site. Check with the US Forest Service Douglas Ranger District for changes and current closures.
For the east Stronghold, take exit 318 (Dragoon Rd.) off I-10. As you enter the tiny town of Dragoon (after a couple of miles), set your odometer at the post office and go 7.5 miles to a right turn onto Cochise Stronghold Road. Follow this until it ends at a T intersection with Ironwood Road; take a right and head into the Stronghold. The east Stronghold is accessible to any passenger car.
For the west Stronghold, head south from Benson on highway 80 for about 20 miles and turn left on Middlemarch Road a couple of miles before Tombstone (this is less than a mile after the permanent border patrol checkpoint). Follow this road for 10 miles to a left hand turn onto forest road 687 (just after a cattle guard). For Sheepshead, take the first right after about 1/2 mile. For the west Stronghold crags (as well as alternate access to the Rockfellows), follow the road for 30 to 45 minutes to its end in west Stronghold canyon. Some crags, such as Isle of Ewe, Sweet Rock, and Warpath Dome, are accessible from various points along this road. he west Stronghold roads are a bit rougher and also require 10 initial miles of washboard road to access. Still, passenger cars show up all the time at Sheepshead and Isle of Ewe areas. Driving a passenger car all the way to the end of forest road 687 is another matter and you will want to be skilled and/or not care especially about your car.
Also of note is that the fastest way to get from the east to the west and southwest areas is via Middlemarch Road rather than the highway, if you don't mind a bumpy dirt road for fifty minutes.
On the west side, there is camping at the Sheepshead trailhead, and all along forest road 687, which eventually leads all the way in to the West Stronghold (parking for Whale Dome, Westworld, etc.). The sites near Sheepshead and Isle of Ewe are ideal for larger groups; the sites at the end of 687 are mostly smaller.
Classic Climbing Routes at Cochise Stronghold
Days w Precip