GPS: 32.387, -110.683 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: JoeS on Jul 3, 2006
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland
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In 1994 Tony Lusk and I decided to check out a large formation of rocks that later became known as the Outback. This is the large collection of rock formations that come into view uphill on your right as you pass through Bear Canyon. On our first trip we climbed straight up the hill from Hitchcock Campground crawling through manzanita for over three hours. After that we found a better trail starting much higher up the highway. In 1994-95 Tony and I spent almost every weekend putting up routes at the Outback. On most weekends we camped above a small outcropping near the crag. After surviving several bear trashings our campsite was destroyed by fire. By then we had established approximately 50 climbs. Even though a few of the routes contained short crack sections, we decided to make all the lines sport routes. We reasoned that due to the length of the approach and the scarcity of legitimate gear routes that it didn’t make sense to expect people to carry a rack. A few years later two local climbers decided to chop some of the bolts on 4 of the climbs. Tony replaced the bolts on two of these climbs. I plan to replace the bolts on the other two, but have not yet done so. Over the years fire had obscured the old trail and the Outback saw very few visitors.
In 2015 I decided that I was going to re-establish a new trail to the Outback. This wasn’t easy as the trail has to traverse several steep valleys through densely overgrown steep hillside. I made a few early looks at potential paths and in early 2016 I made a serious attempt to find the old trail with Jon Herlocker. We blazed a faint trail to the old campground before calling it a day. I subsequently made numerous trips working in the trail eventually dropping it below the campsite outcropping thereby shortening both the length and the amount of up and down in the trail. After over 50 hours of work I had still not finished crossing the final steep hillside and gully that gets you to the final ridge that takes you to the crag. At that point Ray Ringle joined me bringing a polaski that worked wonders to create a flat trail on the final steep hillside. After more than 20 hours of additional work we had a trail to the crag. More recently John Baker has joined in, doing yeoman work navigating the entire formation and creating trails connecting the individual formations to one another. This difficult task is still underway, but should be completed soon. The Outback is a large area with several different locations. It has a secluded feel in a very beautiful location.

Getting There

About 0.1 mile after passing the dirt road on the left that leads into Willow Canyon (& the free parking for Munchkinland), park at a pullout on the right. Start on a wildcat trail that ultimately goes to the top of Green Mountain hiking uphill on the right side of the drainage. The first 100 feet of the trail needs some rework after some large trees obliterated the original path. Stay on this trail, steeply uphill at first, for about ten minutes until the wildcat trail turns left bordered by a row of small rocks on the right. Just off the trail on the right the letters “OB” are constructed out of small white stones. Cross the wildcat trail to the right. Another 35-40 minutes of mostly easy and level hiking gets you to the top of the Kill wall, which is the north most of the individual formations. Once the trails between formations are finished all the climbs should be reached in less than fifteen minutes from here.

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Scott Tucker
Tucson, AZ
Scott Tucker   Tucson, AZ
The approach description above as well as the descriptions in both EFR's book and the Backcountry Guide are a bit lacking, so here is a little more detail. The key to the whole approach is turning off the main trail onto a side trail, which is not mentioned above or in BKy's book. EFR mentions taking the right trail fork ten minutes from the trailhead. It only took me 7 minutes to get there, so start looking early. However, there is no "fork", as such. The correct route to The Outback is on a side path ("trail" is too strong a word) which is not obvious. There are rock cairns all along the main trail, so there isn't any distinct marking for the turnoff. There is a good sized pyramid cairn at the turnoff, but there is also a big cairn about 50 feet up the main trail, making it very easy to miss the turn. There was no cairn visible on the side trail from the main trail when I was there. So I took it upon myself to make one. It's not obvious but easy to spot if you are looking for it. If this offends your sensibilities, by all means kick it over when you're there. But I think it's easy to overshoot the turnoff and this will help first-time visitors. The main trail is obvious and well-marked. The trail to the Outback is rough and fairly overgrown but is well-marked with cairns most of the time. If after ten minutes you are still on a good trail, you're going the wrong way.

(By the way, if you're curious--and I was--the main trail turns out to be the Green Mountain Summit Trail. It goes across the ridge behind Wheeler Wall and drops down quite steeply to to San Pedro Vista. Unsigned and unmaintained, according to the little orange Catalina Mountain trail bible. It's a nice hike with some good camping spots, although the trail gets hard to find and is without cairns for a little ways in the middle.) Jul 10, 2006
Joseph Stover
Batesville, AR
Joseph Stover   Batesville, AR
  • **There is at least one bolt missing a hanger on the Kill Wall. It was left of "Killer on the Loose". I think it was on a 5.12. It still has the nut and washer, but no hanger! It is easy to spot as it is the first bolt, iirc.
  • Note on approach: You basically hike up the gulley on the right side. We never found the correct turn off, but if you follow the main trail up to the top of the hill on the right(south) side of the gulley you should be able to find a path/trail going along the other side of that ridge. This trail basically skirts around the side of green mountain passing by two more ridges and their corresponding valleys. You should arrive at a really wooded area with a nice fire ring. This is where you hike up the ridge behind the actual crag. You will arrive at a big cairn with a rock pointing upwards, which is the direction you need to go to get to the top of the crag. IMPORTANT: If you are not following cairns you are going the wrong way! If you feel lost, stop and go back the last cairn and figure out where the path is. Don't wear shorts! I did, bad idea, lots of low thorny bushes!
Jun 5, 2007
Today we went to the outback. I must admit it was more a day of adventurous hiking than climbing.. Problem was that there was still snow at the head of the trail, so we couldn't find it. On the hike out we discovered, that we were looking at the right spot, but no cairns and a snowy ground made it near impossible to find. So here's one more info about the trailhead, which I think is crucial for the first-timer:
The trail starts right where the turnoff starts (first turnoff after the "mile 16" post)!
This would have made us more confident about the trailhead, but instead we went freestyle, found the path about one third of the way up, in between lost it again, but after a lot of bush whacking made it to the craig eventually. It took us more than two and a half hours though.. On the hike out, we followed the real trail all the way, but in some passages it was so overgrown (no T-shirt or shorts country!) that you could hardly pass, or see a trail at all. So bring a machete for the millions of thorn bushes!
Allow at least one and a half hours for the first time, cause you'll backtrack a lot and try to find cairns all the time ;-)
But even just hiking, and having scratches from head to toe, was worth it! Mar 3, 2013
I lead about half of the climbs back in 94-5. Lot's of great memories. Apr 27, 2013
Thanks John. I hope to have the trail finished in the next 2-3 weeks and will then post a new "getting there" write up for this area. Feb 6, 2018
jbak .
jbak .   tucson,az
As noted above: the parking is the first pullout on the right AFTER the milepost 16 marker (as you head UP the highway).

Park and then head up the steep slope to the right of the drainage past an old fire ring. The trail is faint at first but should be pretty easy to locate. Most of the elevation gain is in the first 5 min of hiking.

After 10 min you hit the point where the OB trail peels off from the old Green Mtn trail (which was abandoned years ago after big fire). OB trail goes RIGHT (clearly marked) at this point. After 20 total min you will traverse a granite plate and then hit a sizable drainage. After 25 min you get your first good views of the crag. 35 min to another drainage where the trail swings south to the crag. 40 min to where a sub-trail goes to top of Kill Wall. 45 min to Mystery Pinnacle. Apr 23, 2018