Elevation: 6,056 ft
GPS: 31.921, -109.987 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 876,775 total · 4,024/month
Shared By: James DeRoussel on Aug 20, 2002 with improvements by Anna Lynn
Admins: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick
Access Issue: Regarding Closures for Rockfellow Group and Cochise Dome (WML Dome) Details

Description

Cochise Stronghold is a spectacular landscape of rugged canyons and towering granite domes. While there is something for everyone in this vast area, those seeking traditional, multi pitch climbing will have a special appreciation for climbing in the Dragoon Mountains. Still, Cochise offers more sport climbing than its reputation, or any current guide, suggests (though not enough to put it in the category of a sport climbing destination). There is also a great deal of multi-pitch "sport" climbing although virtually all of these climbs require an occasional gear placement or chickenhead tie-off. Many of these routes on the larger domes are not documented in any guide--though increasingly, they are showing up on this site--and therefore care must be taken not to get off route.

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.

Getting There

Drive east from Tucson on I-10 towards Benson.

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.

Camping

Access to free camping spots can be rougher, particularly the road to Batline Dome, but there is plenty of camping accessible to any car. On the east side, camping can be found after crossing the cattle guard (on Ironwood Road) with the large forest service sign. An immediate right leads to Batline Dome and the Wasteland area trailhead, with camping at both spots. The next right, a quarter mile or so on, leads to a maze of road with extensive free camping. There is also pay camping with more amenities at the end of the road into the east Stronghold.

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.

Guidebooks

Bob Kerry's Backcountry Rock Climbing in Southern Arizona has an extensive Cochise section. It's out of print, but accessible in its entirety on-line ( climbaz.com/Backcountry/bac… ). The listed routes are a drop in the bucket of the actual number of routes in the Stronghold. "Rock Climbing Arizona" and "Weekend Rock Arizona" also have some Cochise crags but are not as extensive as Kerry's guide and are really only worth getting if you'll be hitting several areas in Arizona. Other local guides/topos that may cover newer routes include Geir Hundal's (toofasttopos.com) and Tanya Bok's (cochiseclimbing.com).

377 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Cochise Stronghold

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b A0 R
 207
What's My Line?
Trad, Aid 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 273
Moby Dick
Trad 6 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 174
The Wasteland
Trad 6 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 370
Ewephoria
Trad 5 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
 117
Bee Line
Trad 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 131
Nightstalker
Trad
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 103
Forest Lawn
Trad 3 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 285
The Peacemaker
Sport 7 pitches
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 195
Absinthe of Mallet
Trad 7 pitches
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
 99
The Climb Too Tough To Die
Trad 6 pitches
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
 170
Endgame
Trad 5 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
 104
Days of Future Passed
Trad 4 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
 145
Warpaint
Trad 5 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 93
Abracadaver
Trad 6 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 72
Stampede
Sport 7 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
What's My Line? E Stronghold > Cochise Dome (What's…
 207
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b A0 R Trad, Aid 3 pitches
Moby Dick W Stronghold > Whale Dome
 273
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 6 pitches
The Wasteland E Stronghold > Wasteland
 174
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 6 pitches
Ewephoria W Stronghold > Sheepshead Area… > Sheepshead
 370
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 5 pitches
Bee Line E Stronghold > Stronghold Dome
 117
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R Trad 3 pitches
Nightstalker E Stronghold > Owl Rock
 131
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Forest Lawn E Stronghold > Rockfellow Group > Bastion Towers
 103
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 3 pitches
The Peacemaker W Stronghold > Sheepshead Area… > Sheepshead
 285
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport 7 pitches
Absinthe of Mallet W Stronghold > Sheepshead Area… > Sheepshead
 195
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 7 pitches
The Climb Too Tough To Die W Stronghold > Sheepshead Area… > Sheepshead
 99
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13 Trad 6 pitches
Endgame E Stronghold > Rockfellow Group > End Pinnacle
 170
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad 5 pitches
Days of Future Passed E Stronghold > Rockfellow Group > End Pinnacle
 104
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13 Trad 4 pitches
Warpaint W Stronghold > Westworld Dome
 145
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13 Trad 5 pitches
Abracadaver E Stronghold > Rockfellow Group > Rockfellow Dome
 93
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad 6 pitches
Stampede W Stronghold > Sheepshead Area… > Sheepshead
 72
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport 7 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Cochise Stronghold »

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