Use onX Backcountry to explore the terrain in 3D, view recent satellite imagery, and more. Now available in onX Backcountry Mobile apps! For more information see this post.
Elevation: 8,500 ft
GPS: 32.4318, -110.7985
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 143,625 total · 546/month
Shared By: Hendrixson on Sep 9, 2002
Admins: adrian montaƱo, Greg Opland, Brian Boyd, JJ Schlick, Kemper Brightman, Luke Bertelsen
Warning Access Issue: Potentially unavailable to climbing February through July if raptors are breeding here. DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

The Fortress is one of the best and most varied crags on Mount Lemmon. The Southeast Face boasts amazing sport and traditional multi-pitch routes. The Orifice Wall, which is a sharp contrast to the face routes, boasts some of the hardest and steepest routes in the region. The Fortress along with the other summit crags should not be missed.

Be sure to observe the season closure from March 15 to June 30 peregrine falcon nesting.

Getting There Suggest change

Drive up Mount Lemmon Highway (Catalina Highway) for approximately 22.5 miles. Turn right on Ski Run Road, immediately prior to entering the town of Summerhaven, and follow this road approximately 4.5 miles. While on Ski Run Road continue through the Ski Valley parking lot where the road narrows and winds up the last section of the mountain. Upon reaching the closed gate of the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory turn left into a parking lot. A restroom and free camping can be found here. There is no running water.

Hike around fenced-in generators on a narrow trail used by climbers and hikers alike (Photo 1 below). In a couple minutes, at the SkyCenter Observatory sign a fork will be encountered (Photo 2 below). The Fortress can be reached by following either the access road (left) or Meadow Trail (right). The latter is more scenic and less rocky but slightly longer.

If you take the access road, follow the rocky road downhill past both a trail turnoff and a lookout point. The view will open and a metal shed will appear. Near the shed is a spring on the left (downhill) side of the trail. I believe the spring is safe to drink and always running. Continue past the shed and the turn off for Rappel Rock. Hike past the where the Meadow Trail rejoins the access road.

Turn left onto a climber's trail immediately after the green electrical box on your right (Photo 3 below). Hike past the west face of The Murray Wall to the Fortress. The Southeast Face is on your left; the Northwest Face is on your right.

Expect the drive to take 45-60 minutes and the hike to take 20-30 minutes.

Fortress Approach Photo 1: Trailhead

Fortress Approach Photo 2: Fork. The access road is on the left; the Meadow Trail is on the right.

Fortress Approach Photo 3: Turnoff. The turnoff is just past the electrical box on the left side.

46 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: The Fortress Change
Type:  to 
Quality:
Pitches:
Sort by:   then:
 

Classic Climbing Routes at The Fortress

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 44
Fisherman's Elbow
Sport 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 147
Steel Crazy
Sport 4 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 24
The Rupley Route
Trad 4 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 70
Fort Stress
Sport 4 pitches
5.11- 6c 22 VIII- 22 E3 5c
 30
Sir Clipalot
Sport 3 pitches
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 104
Unattended Consequences
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 54
Gettin' Off The Porch
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 85
Hard Day at The Orifice
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 73
Orifice Politics
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 45
Eureka
Sport
5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c
 31
Coup d'etat
Sport
5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c
 5
Davin's Route (Teegerstrong)
Sport
5.13a/b 8a 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c
 12
Heel-A Monster
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 24
Granite of the Apes
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 14
In Search of Silence
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Fisherman's Elbow Northwest Face
 44
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 3 pitches
Steel Crazy Southeast Face
 147
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport 4 pitches
The Rupley Route Southeast Face
 24
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 4 pitches
Fort Stress Southeast Face
 70
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport 4 pitches
Sir Clipalot Southeast Face
 30
5.11- 6c 22 VIII- 22 E3 5c Sport 3 pitches
Unattended Consequences Orifice Wall
 104
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Gettin' Off The Porch Orifice Wall
 54
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Hard Day at The Orifice Orifice Wall
 85
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
Orifice Politics Orifice Wall
 73
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Eureka Orifice Wall
 45
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Coup d'etat Orifice Wall
 31
5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c Sport
Davin's Route (Teegerstrong) Orifice Wall
 5
5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c Sport
Heel-A Monster Orifice Wall
 12
5.13a/b 8a 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c Sport
Granite of the Apes Orifice Wall
 24
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
In Search of Silence Orifice Wall
 14
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Fortress »

Weather Averages

High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w Precip
 
Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Photos

loading