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Isle of You

5.10a, Sport, 170 ft,  Avg: 2.8 from 96 votes
FA: Mike Strassman
Arizona > Southern Arizona > Cochise Stronghold > W Stronghold > Isle of You > Trad Rock


One of the tougher 5.9 routes you're likely to find. The initial moves seemed more in the 5.10b range. The route starts from the large deck that lies roughly in the middle of the base of Trad Rock. Isle of You is the middle of three lines that start from this deck between the left-hand arete (home of Jizzneyland, 5.10c) and the largish oak on the right-hand. Initial moves are a thin left to right traverse to the first bolt. The second bolt lies in a dishy depression, reached by traversing a bit more up and right. The climb then heads straight up 150' on fun varied face with relatively few rest stances. The small roof about 100' up is a highlight. Descend with 2 ropes or by easy walk off the back.


14 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Jay rapping Isle of You at sunset.
[Hide Photo] Jay rapping Isle of You at sunset.
A shot of me on Isle of You.   Great climb.
[Hide Photo] A shot of me on Isle of You. Great climb.
Boxcar aka Fritz aka Justin on Isle of You
[Hide Photo] Boxcar aka Fritz aka Justin on Isle of You
Looking down on the camp area from the top of Isle of You
[Hide Photo] Looking down on the camp area from the top of Isle of You
Spotters are key to this difficult start up to the first bolt
[Hide Photo] Spotters are key to this difficult start up to the first bolt
G. Forge on the Trad Rock classic, Isle of You.
[Hide Photo] G. Forge on the Trad Rock classic, Isle of You.
My partner nearing the top of IoY.  I like how all points converge in the distance in this photo.  Gives you perspective on how long the route really is!<br>
December 2007
[Hide Photo] My partner nearing the top of IoY. I like how all points converge in the distance in this photo. Gives you perspective on how long the route really is! December 2007

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Wes Turner
az / pa
[Hide Comment] the initial moves(1st 20') are in the 5.10b range. I have seen several ".9" leaders deck your step. very balancy traversing moves. Great climb!! Dec 14, 2004
L. Hamilton
[Hide Comment] I agree that those first moves felt 10-ish; a stick clip was nice here! Mar 30, 2005
Chris Dillon
[Hide Comment] I agrre with the previous comments regarding the difficult start. The routes on this rock are generally inconsistent with ratings, but I think 10a is appropriate. This is the best route on the wall and I highly recommend it! Oct 19, 2005
[Hide Comment] I've done easier 11's Jan 9, 2007
Littleton, CO
[Hide Comment] The first four bolts are challenging for the rating. I opted to stick clip the first bolt and was relieved to reach the second. All in all a great climb. Sep 1, 2007
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
[Hide Comment] The route may be long but if you break it down, it doesn't have a single move harder than 5.9. It's solid at the grade.

To avoid rope drag either skip the second bolt or back clean it after clipping the 3rd bolt - the route is long an the rope is heavy enough without the z-drag.

If any of you are running an 80 meter rope.... you can lead and lower using it. Otherwise, belay at the top and trail a second cord. Jan 9, 2008
David Lammers
Grand Junction, CO
[Hide Comment] This route can be descended in 2 stages with a single 60-meter rope by utilizing the anchors for Jizzneyland. Just be sure the Jizzneyland route is not being climbed when you do this. May 10, 2009
Tucson, Arizona
[Hide Comment] FBA (first barefoot ascent) 11/8/09 - Andy B. Andy did it with no shoes, no chalk, and with a wicked hangover. Nov 8, 2009
roman d
Pasadena, CA
[Hide Comment] sustained and excellent. better be feeling strong to get to the first bolt, though it's not as bad as it might seem. Jan 10, 2010
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] awesome and sustained. You'd better be super solid on 5.9.

some pics from a recent trip:… Jan 11, 2010
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
  5.10c PG13
[Hide Comment] i cant believe anyone would think the climbing to the first bolt on this route is 5.9- its as hard the crux on its .10c neighbor for sure. Stick clip the first bolt regardless of how strong you are, and stick clip the second if .9 or low .10s are your limit.

that said, its a great route thats well worth doing.

one other note- one of the pro bolts up high (i forget which) is absolutely junk- wrenched all the way down on its threads but still sticking out of the wall. luckily, there's another bolt about 3' higher, but still- it should be replaced. Mar 15, 2010
dale polen
arivaca, az
[Hide Comment] Great climb. I went straight up to the 1st bolt. didnt traverse. Is the traverse harder? Stick clip is not necessary. You can totally take that fall. Spotters are nice though. Great climb. Nov 14, 2010
John Hayes
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Right off the deck, the first clip is super sporty which contributes to the feeling that this climb is way harder than you expect. Still this is a really fun climb that has always seemed harder than 5.9 to me. 5.9+ or 5.10a seems more realistic and you had better be ready for a lot of it. Dec 4, 2010
[Hide Comment] After climbing for over a decade and not having a single injury from climbing, I got my first injury on this climb. I fell just a few feet off the deck, landed on one of the tree roots sticking out, and twisted my ankle something fierce. It's the size of a small grapefruit now and I'm laid up for a while. Obviously I don't know how the rest of the route is, but the start is well beyond 5.9 and sketchy. If you can stick clip it, then do it. I personally don't own a stick clip anymore and my philosophy has always been "if I can't lead it, then I can't climb it". Beware: the grades here are VERY stiff. They're easily a grade off. "The Isle of You" is not a 5.9! The rating of a climb is determined by it's hardest move, and the start is not a 5.9, as others have clearly stated above. On a side note, if anyone found a La Sportiva Mythos shoe there on X-Mass I would gladly pay the shipping costs to get it back. We forgot it out there during my rescue. Dec 27, 2010
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] To keep the rating a bit easier, it is imperative to do the traverse. Going straight up to the bolt is much harder (at least 10b-10c).

However, I still find the traverse tricky and balancy with a long sequence of unprotected, committing moves.

That said, I don't think the reason people find this route to be harder than 5.9 is due to its length (per susan peplow's comment); clearly the hardest moves are the first ones you encounter. Dec 27, 2010
[Hide Comment] A really fantastic route, but as others have said, the start is several notches harder than 5.9. Do yourself a favor and stick clip the first bolt--or two. Remember, climbing is supposed to be fun, and sport routes are artificially protected, so don't sweat the ego and protect yourself from grounding, as Shawn above unfortunately experienced. Better to stick clip and walk away healthy to climb the next route than spend week (or more) laid up.

Heal well, Shawn!

Scott aka BAd Dec 31, 2010
Johnny Ice
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] I did this one a couple months ago. It seemed pretty difficult, like most people have said its harder than 5.9 but not much. I think the mental commitment to climb while thinking "gee, if I fell I'd definitely deck out", is the hard part. It was fun and worth doing again. I wish I would've put a long runner on the first bolt due to rope drag issues but i was so scared or hitting the ground I just left a small draw. It might help to have the A-team theme song montage going through your head to get your past the crux... at least that's what helped me. Mar 30, 2011
[Hide Comment] Full value 5.9!!! Dec 13, 2011
Littleton, CO
[Hide Comment] Has a bolt been added? The runout to the first bolt doesn't seem as large as I remember. Dec 31, 2011
Daryl Allan
Sierra Vista, AZ
[Hide Comment] Yes. With the permission of FA party. Jan 3, 2012
John Hayes
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] A bolt was added? Really? That seems completely unnecessary and I can't believe that anyone agreed to that idea! This used to be a REALLY committing, scary first clip but there were a lot of options: 1) Don't climb it, 2) Use a stick clip, or 3) Climb it like the FA party and a lot of other folks have done. Although I've led this thing a bunch of times, I'm probably not in shape right now to run up those first moves unfazed. Still, I'd never even think of adding a bolt just so I could lead it when I'm out of shape. Who the heck thought this was a good idea? BTW, It must have been interesting to get permission from the FA Party. Mike Strassman isn't able to give permission about this climb or anything else for that matter. He has been deceased since 2007. Feb 19, 2012
[Hide Comment] [Edit] Earlier it was suggested that one could simply skip the new bolt.

This solution has been suggested before. The addition of a bolt changes the commitment level; this is as big a part of the challenge of the climb as the physical difficulty of the moves.
Feb 19, 2012
John Hayes
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] There are two components that make up every climb; the quality of the moves and the level of commitment required to complete the climb. Whether you clip it or not, adding a bolt changes the commitment level in exactly the same way that chipping a hold changes the quality of the moves. Two options for those who want to experience the moves without the commitment are top roping and stick clipping. Otherwise, go find your own route to put up; but don't be altering a route that has been around for a long time. I'd also like to know who gave permission to alter this route because it sure wasn't Mike Strassman. It sounds like the folks who did this may be ethically challenged on more than one level. Feb 19, 2012
[Hide Comment] I can understand some of the thinking that might have gone into this. If you are going to rap bolt a route it might as well be safe. Also, why should there be one climb with injury potential among a bunch of safe sport climbs? Whoever added the bolt probably had the best of intentions, particularly in light of the injury reported earlier.

However, I have two concerns. My first is that I feel similarly to John in that I don't think the person holding the rope while Mike did the FA has any business giving permission to add a bolt (if this is indeed the case.) There may very well be a justification but I don't think this is a good one.

My second concern is where the line is drawn with regards to adding bolts to established routes. After someone gets hurt? With the permission of the FA? Only on sport climbs? On X rated routes? When the gear isn't quite good enough?

I think it's best if we do not add fixed protection to established routes. Feb 20, 2012
Daryl Allan
Sierra Vista, AZ
[Hide Comment] You are absolutely right Geir: We had the very best of intentions.

We spoke with numerous people and gathered many opinions before altering this route. This was not carried out with a 'screw what everyone thinks' mentality - in fact, quite the opposite. For roughly two years, I polled climbers in person while climbing at Trad Rock for their opinion. These were locals, Tucson climbers, out of towners, snowbirds, and even a few foreigners. I didn't take names and addresses but would conservatively estimate the number of people to be no less than a few dozen; not one person suggested leaving it as is. My reasons for not bringing it to a discussion via MP should be obvious but I can address that point if anyone needs clarification.

The remaining FA participant told me she not only would allow it but would be thankful if we added the bolt. I was also told by her as well as someone that knew the now-deceased FA well that if he were still alive, given his approach to climbing and safety in his closing years, he probably would have added the bolt himself.

The day it was added, a couple of guys beginning a month-long climbing road trip climbed it. The leader clipped the new bolt and as we looked on from the ground, a sidepull broke off in his left hand and he fell on the bolt from 15 feet off the deck. He looked over at me, thanked me and I haven't lost a day of sleep since. That being said, if anyone's ego is so mortally impeded by the addition of this bolt that they have to remove it, no one can stop you. Just own up to your actions and be accountable as I have.

John, you sound upset and I am sorry for any grief this is causing you. Hopefully we can start a amicable discussion here or in a separate forum. Otherwise I would encourage any further emotionally-driven discussion of this to be taken offline as to keep the dirty laundry element to a bare minimum. We have more than our share already out on the line as it stands.

Best regards,
Daryl Feb 21, 2012
[Hide Comment] Daryl,

Thanks for speaking up.

What I am happy about is that there was some discussion before the route was changed. Knowing you were a chief person in gathering opinions is greatly encouraging as I have always found you to be very considerate of what others think.

By the way, I have no issue with the discussion taking place in a forum other than MP so long as there is one and that people utilizing the area are welcome to participate.

I do want to revise one earlier remark. Rather than the belayer of the FA "having no business" giving permission to add the bolt (as I stated, which now that I re-read it could be taken as offensive) I think it is best stated that this person's opinion should not have greater weight than any of the others who talked about it.

While I still feel that we should avoid adding bolts to established climbs, I can understand some of the logic that might have led to this decision. It is, after all, a sport climb at a sport crag. It's not the choice I would have been in favor of but I can live with it. It's good to hear that at least one pair of legs has saved.

Thanks Daryl for stepping up. Feb 21, 2012
Casa do Cacete
[Hide Comment] I say leave it in..

Was runout AND it's almost a number grade sandbagged, the moves are at least solid 10b, and that's IF you figure out the right beta when you're onsighting...

Not a good combination for a sport crag chock-full of moderate routes..

Feb 21, 2012
Angel Mangual
Sierra Vista, AZ
[Hide Comment] This was not a decision taken drastically. Like Daryl stated, we went around and ask, and researched about putting a bolt or not. As a route setter and climber, I love putting up routes with the least amounts of bolts. Also, I know how significant a route is for a FA party because myself I treat every of my route like my own child. With this said, we made sure that we contacted the right person because we knew Mike wasnÂ’t with us anymore. She gave us the permission and a very very long consideration we added the bolt. Like you said, this is a sport crag that many people come and enjoy and hard to see and carrying people out when they break an ankle. In my opinion, a run out like that is expected on a 5.11 and up, but not on routes that 5.8 and 5.9 climbers are going to climb.

Angel Feb 21, 2012
chris tregge
[Hide Comment] My buddy Jay and I walked under this route a few years ago, before the added bolt, and thought "hell with that route". No point in breaking your ankles on a 5.9 sport route.

A couple weeks ago we were out there again, and noticed a new, lower bolt. Climbed it. Yeah, this route is amazing. And, now, more people will climb it. Win, win. Oct 10, 2012
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] great route, but anyone who thinks it's 5.9 is crazy. Oct 29, 2012
J Mo
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] jizzneyland (the whole route) is EASILY a full number grade easier than the first 25 feet of isle of you. Mar 8, 2015
Joshua Munoz
Honolulu, HI
  5.10+ PG13
[Hide Comment] Thanks to whoever added a bolt near the start. The deck potential is too high there. Definitely not a 5.9. If someone who feels comfortable leading 9s else where and gets on this will get shut down IMO. The first 3 bolts felt like a V4 or V5 high ball Boulder problem. Apr 17, 2016