Description

The Catalina Highway (officially the General Hitchcock Highway though nobody uses that name) climbs more than 5,300 feet and passes through five of North America's seven distinct life zones. As the road starts in the Lower Sonoran Desert and climbs to alpine forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a stretch of only 27 miles!

The vast majority of climbing areas in the Santa Catalina Mountains are accessed via this highway. Mount Lemmon provides an equal amount of diverse rock climbing, from classic multi-pitch traditional routes to bolted sport climbs. Crags are generously distributed in elevations and aspect, making it possible to comfortably climb year round.

As of 2012 there are no fees to climb due to a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Developed areas on the mountain, such as the summit parking lot, require payment. Read the nearby signage and purchase a Coronado National Forest pass if required. Both free, primitive and pay, developed camping can be found along the highway.

After winter storms the highway may close at the base while snow and debris is cleared. Vehicular and bicycle traffic can be heavy on weekends. The sub-areas of Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) are listed from lowest to highest elevation.

Getting There

The Catalina Highway is accessed via Tanque Verde Rd. on Tucson's east side. Any amenity you could possibly desire is available at the bottom of the highway, and some basic supplies can also be acquired at the general store in Summerhaven, a small mountain community at the highway's upper terminus. Allow about 45 minutes to an hour to drive the entire 27 mile stretch.

2,213 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 119
Slippery When Wet
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 137
Agatha Christie (Direct)
Trad, TR
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 116
In Lightning
Sport 2 pitches
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 74
R-1
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 115
Steel Crazy
Sport 4 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 101
Old Man
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 101
Stoner's Boner
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 122
Chihuahua Power
Sport
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 76
Centerpiece
Trad
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
 79
Go Speed Racer
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 189
Steve's Arete
Sport
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
 88
Raycreation
Sport
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 120
Armed Robbery
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 62
Hard Day at The Orifice
Sport
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
 72
Tsunami
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Slippery When Wet 4 - Windy Point… > N Fin
 119
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Agatha Christie (Direct) 4 - Windy Point… > N Fin
 137
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, TR
In Lightning 6 - Mid-Mountain > Druid
 116
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 2 pitches
R-1 3 - Windy Point… > Rupley Towers
 74
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Steel Crazy 8 - Summit Crags > Fortress > Southeast Face
 115
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport 4 pitches
Old Man 4 - Windy Point… > S Fin
 101
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Stoner's Boner 2 - Bear Canyon > Chimney Rock
 101
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Chihuahua Power 2 - Bear Canyon > Lost Hawk
 122
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Centerpiece 2 - Bear Canyon > Chimney Rock
 76
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Go Speed Racer 1 - Lower Highway > Pinhead Wall
 79
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport
Steve's Arete 3 - Windy Point… > Hunchback Pinnacle
 189
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Raycreation 7 - Upper Highway > Raycreation Area > Upper Wall
 88
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Armed Robbery 1 - Lower Highway > Prison Camp (Go… > Jailhouse Rock
 120
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
Hard Day at The Orifice 8 - Summit Crags > Fortress > Orifice Wall
 62
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
Tsunami 3 - Windy Point… > New Wave Wall
 72
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) »

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J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Just wanted to give a warning about the new hazards of that fancy Windy Point road art! While a climbing partner and I were crossing the road we observed a Ford Ranger spinning out of control. It seemed really odd because it didn't appear it was caused by driver error. When we crossed the road we then relized how slick the wet road actually was ! My partner and I are going to contact the DOT. We felt the road is going to be causing some real problem's with Bicycles, Motorcycles etc. Also my new E- mail address is andypeters520@msn.com. Jul 30, 2005
What is the best guide book for Mt. Lemmon? And how much did the fires alter routes and aproaches as listed in the guidebooks? Feb 19, 2006
The best guidebook by far is Steiger. This book was a labor of love and it shows. One of those books that I'll always treasure.

And I just found one on Amazon for $8.00 (mint condition!). Sorry - but I just bought it since the pages fell out of my old one.

Nothing really wrong with Squeezing the Lemon - all the newer sport routes are there.

I don't recommend Green's Rock Climbing Arizona book. It one of the Falcon "drive by" guidebooks that makes me sick. Buy a guidebook from a local, not some guy cherry-picking the work of others.
Feb 19, 2006
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
The choice of guidebooks depends mostly on whether you plan on trad or sport. Squeezing The Lemmon is good for both but is getting to be out of date. Tyler's Sport Select is a bit less out of date but covers only sport and not all crags. Eric seems to be coming out with a Squeezing update sometime soon.

Steiger's guide is WAY out of date, but a nice historical document. The BEST guide is the old under-the-counter Summit Hut guide of which I have one of about 10 copies. Feb 20, 2006
Jimbo  
While Steiger's guide is great from a historical perspective, the new Squeezing the Lemmon II is the the most current and comprehensive guide
available. Feb 24, 2006
1Eric Rhicard
Tucson
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
The "Sport Guide" that is mentioned by the venerable jbak is no longer in print. Squeezing the Lemmon II will tell you where the sport routes are. Simply look at the description Jbak if you see [B,C] that means it is a sport route. As you say, Squeezing the Lemmon II is a little out of date,but only if you climb here all the time. There are more than enough great routes for the visitor or newly arrived. A few areas have a lot of new stuff. Troll Wall, Boot Hill, and The Chessmen. Sun Spot Crags in Molino (great for winter) and The Steep (great for summer) are not in SQ II but will be in the supplement. With luck I will get a supplement out before too long. There are 1500+ routes in SQ II. that should keep most folks busy for a while. If you drag out the hexes Jbak you might even find a route or two you have not done. In fact if you can show me that you have lead half of the 1500+ routes in SQ II I will give you a supplement for free. Feb 27, 2006
1Eric Rhicard
Tucson
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Sun Spot Crags, Mount Lemmon's newest area is located just north of Molino Campground and now has over 30 new routes from 5.7 to 5.12 with more to come. The climbs are both sport and trad and range in length from 30 to 100 feet. The approach is short 10 to 20 minutes depending on which crags you visit. You can climb here in the coldest of Tucson weather if the sun is out. If it isn't sunny bring a warm jacket and you can still climb. Mar 7, 2006
Timothy Roehr
Tucson,Az
Timothy Roehr   Tucson,Az
Rappel Rock, Raven Rock, The Fortress, Branch-Out Crag and parts of Panarama Wall are closed from 15 March through 30 June. May 23, 2006
Joseph Stover
Batesville, AR
Joseph Stover   Batesville, AR
Just to reiterate in case anyone has any doubts: Watch out for snakes!(and other things that can be dangerous also)

About two weeks ago I was out at Hairpin looking at the new landscape. It was sundown, when activity is higher I think. I came pretty close to stepping on a rattlesnake on the left side(facing the road) on my way out towards the tunnels under the road(I never noticed those before). It was about 3 feet long and about a 1.5 inch diameter, I think it was a female because it was really fat and tapered off quickly near the rattle, which someone told me is a charictaristic of females. It was curled up and immediately rattled, uncurled, and slithered off to the left once I hopped down a big boulder about 8 feet away from it and quickly became aware of it due to the rattle. Had it been curled within 2 feet of the base of the boulder, I would have been in high danger of being bitten. So watch out! Aug 28, 2006
1Eric Rhicard
Tucson
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Having hiked, hunted, and climbed here for 25 years I have seen dozens of rattlesnakes. I have seen them every month of the year, from elevations of 2000 feet to the top of Mt. Lemmon (Murray Wall). I have seen my dog walk right over them. I have seen Bob Kerry step next to them. I have seen Bob jump straight up in the air when one rattled and land right where he started thus giving the snake ample opportunity to strike. With hundreds of friends and acquaintances covering thousands of miles not one has ever been bitten. Not that it can't happen. The chances are miniscule. If you do get bit try not to panic and get to a hospital as soon as possible and you will live. Statistics show that the people that do get killed are between the ages of 18 and 24, male with tattoos, and they have been drinking. Good luck! Aug 29, 2006
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
Definitely don't get that "Squeezing the Lemmon II" book...just kidding..stop by one of the Summit Huts on Speedway or Wetmore and pick up a copy..

Mt Lemmon is directly north of Tucson and accessed from the northeast side of the city..depending on what part of town you live would say anywhere from 10-30 minutes to get to the bottom of the highway.. Sep 14, 2006
A.P.T.
Truckee,Ca
A.P.T.   Truckee,Ca
"Squeezing The Lemmon II" can also be purchased at "Le Buzz Cafe" 9121 E. Tanque Verde Rd.. 749-3903 Sep 15, 2006
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
U.S. judge upholds Mt. Lemmon user charges
By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.24.2007

azstarnet.com/metro/165947 Feb 5, 2007
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
Previous to Jan 07 you could also use the National Parks Golden Eagle pass which is now no longer available.

The new "America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass" which is the new interagency program pass which cost $80 will gain you access to all Federal Lands. One pass fits all.

Looking for more info....

store.usgs.gov/pass/general… Feb 5, 2007
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
Mt. Lemmon is on the cover of "Rock & Ice" this month.

Nice pic of Eric Scully on Steve's Arete. Jul 11, 2007
Lemmon Headshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfmKC_s70rw Aug 17, 2010
Derek Anderson
Tucson, AZ
Derek Anderson   Tucson, AZ
Lemmonhead indeed , nice video Caleb..... Bless the Catalinas, and Lemmon very humbled to be able to climb here..Thanks to all who have established the climbing here :) Its amazing! Apr 21, 2011
Christian
Casa do Cacete
Christian   Casa do Cacete
Just would like to add, for trad climbing on Mt Lemmon..this is not the place to push your limit on lead for beginning trad climbers..

Polished, balancy moves with old-school ratings (ie compressed ie =sometimes 1970s ratings, ie sandbagged and watch the date on FAs) and possibly based on people who were experts at placing passive pro way back when...

Oct 27, 2011
Gotta agree with Christian. Generally speaking Mt. Lemmon has trickier pro than most places that I have climbed. Oct 27, 2011
Myk BROWN
tucson, az
Myk BROWN   tucson, az
Might be old news to some, but looks like no more parking passes needed for mt Lemmon. emol.org/tucson/mtlemmon/

"The fee was cancelled after a 9th U.S. Curcuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 9, 2012 that the Coronado National Forest fees violate federal law. The $5 daily, or $20 annual, fee was collected from all drivers who parked their cars on the road to Summerhaven. Residents and workers in Summerhaven were exempt from the fee.

The fee station, by Milepost 5, is no longer open while the Forest Service reevaluates its options. The lawsuit, filed by several Tucson residents, objected to the fees for Mt. Lemmon." May 22, 2012
jbak .
tucson,az
jbak .   tucson,az
A shout out to Jeremy Parks... who after a shaky start, fought through to do his 1st-ever FA, an as-yet-unnamed, 2-star, 5.11+/5.12- at the Tusk. Way to go Remy ! Dec 8, 2012
Hey Mt. Lemmon climbers!
I'm headed to Lemmon/Cochise for the first week in March and am requesting some beta: I'm climbing with my girlfriend, who is most interested in 8-11, while I'd like to either get some mileage on a handful of 12s or work a good 13a or 13b. We will only climb at Lemmon for a couple days max. Does anyone have any good crag suggestions that also take Early March weather into consideration?

Thanks in advance! You can PM me or post on here .

Mike Feb 7, 2014
David Graham
Dallas
David Graham   Dallas
I just spent a week here from March 7th thru the 14th and to all those looking to go here I'd say 2 things.

1) The weather here is perfect, Colder temps near the summit and hotter temps near base, you can choose whatever temp you like. go here if you get the chance.

2) I would not recommend purchasing the guidebook "squeezing the lemmon II". We bought it and ended up just using mountain project (which is unfortunate cause nothing's better than a good guidebook) so save yourself the $30. Mar 17, 2015
Khoi
Vancouver, BC
Khoi   Vancouver, BC
Brand new guidebook is out!

mountainproject.com/v/new-g… Jul 18, 2015
Steven Groetken
Durango, CO
Steven Groetken   Durango, CO
This would be a great climb to introduce someone to multipitch. Easy enough climbing, no hanging belays, generously bolted, walk off and fantastic summit views. (Warning: onsight spoilers below summit pic)



If you face climb the whole thing, maybe it is a 5.8, but the last cruxish move at the top contains a perfect fist jam. If you do that, it feels more in the territory of a 7. Almost all of the climbing is on low angle jugs, so a beginning follower will have a great time moving up this rather quickly. I haven't climbed in AZ for a while, so this was super fun getting back on some nice gneiss. Bring some slings since this does wander a bit. Nov 8, 2016
Kemper Brightman   Tucson
What do people think about removing the section of text on the SQL 2 updates now that the new guide is out? It just seems like a big block of text on an otherwise clean page. Feb 21, 2017
Hendrixson
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
The outdated Squeezing The Lemmon 2 mile marker updates have been removed. Thanks for the suggestion.

In general Mountain Project is a living database. Incorrect and incomplete information can be corrected through the page improvement feature (preferred), reassignment, or comments. The more we put into it, the better it becomes. Feb 22, 2017