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Five Mile Wall Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||Charles Vernon on Aug 12, 2013|
|Admins:||Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick|
DescriptionFive Mile Wall faces west and is visible from Oro Valley, but not from anywhere on the Mt. Lemmon Highway. It's hard to say what area this rock belongs in. It's in the Backcountry guide rather than Squeezing the Lemmon, and requires a relatively long hike. However, access is from the Mt. Lemmon Highway, so it seems to make sense in that sub-section.
Five Mile Wall is so named because it is located approximately 5 miles from the summit of Mt. Lemmon. It offers high quality granite crack routes 2-4 pitches in length on good rock, in a spectacular location. You are unlikely to see other climbers due to the long hike. It's a good place to climb in summer as it's at a reasonably high elevation and faces primarily west. Great campsites are available near and directly on top of the cliff, although the nearest water is a least a half mile back in the Wilderness of Rocks, and possibly further depending on the season. Classics, according to the Backcountry Guide, include "Town Without Pity"*** and "Motor City."** Those are the only two routes I've done as of this writing, but there are several other very intriguing looking lines listed in the Backcountry guide.
Due to the long hike, for a "cragging" area, I don't ever see this area becoming crowded, but I'm posting it here to encourage climbers to visit, as there's some excellent climbing in a beautiful location.
Subject to the Bighorn Sheep restriction from January 30-April 1, according to Backcountry Rock Climbing in Southern Arizona Details
Getting ThereThe shortest approach starts at the summit crags parking at the top of Mt. Lemmon. (The Backcountry Guide describes this approach, although it's mildly confusing as it refers to the "Romero Pass" trail). Follow the Mt. Lemmon trail, which starts out as a dirt road, past Rappel Rock, the Ravens, and the Fortress, until the road ends at a junction with the Sutherland trail. Bear left here, and continue to a junction with the Wilderness of Rocks trail. Go right here (continuing on the Mt. Lemmon trail), and after 1/4 mile of uphill hiking, the trail takes a sharp left (south). The wall is not visible, as it will be below you, to your right, and facing away from the trail (west--overlooking Romero Canyon and Oro Valley). At this point one can leave the trail immediately if heading for the Motor City area, or continue another few hundred feet until the trail starts switchbacking downhill and crosses the top of the gully which is used to access "Town Without Pity" and most of the other climbs. Having now descended both gullies, the south gully seems to be the more pleasant of the two.
The hike to the top of the cliff (on the trail) took us about 1.5 hours (almost all downhill), and it takes another 15-30 minutes to descend the gullies to the base. You'll earn your beer on the 5 mile hike out with 2000+ feet of elevation gain at the end of the day.
It's also possible to approach the wall via the Wilderness of Rocks trail, which I think is a mile or so longer but has significantly less elevation change. One can also use the Mt. Lemmon look-out trail to the Wilderness of Rocks trail, which is about the same length as using the Mt. Lemmon trail the whole way. I don't recommend hiking out up the Mt. Lemmon look-out trail!
Finally, it would certainly be possible, though much longer, to approach from Catalina State Park. Although at least it would be downhill on the way out.
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