Type: Trad, 600 ft, 6 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 28,965 total · 188/month
Shared By: Mike on May 17, 2006
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

147 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


A great climb. Make sure you are comfortable slinging chickenheads & plates and belaying off of slung chickenheads before attempting this route.

P1: Climb the face up and left to a small arch (usually with webbing on it), sling the arch, then head up and right to a belay ledge.
P2: Traverse right to the crack/groove and follow it up to a nice belay below short chimney.
P3: Climb up and left through the chimney and exit left on top of the small tower, then step across chimney to the main wall. Climb great chickenheads and plates on the right side the corner and on the arete past a short headwall then belay on thin cracks & chickenheads just below the big roof.
P4: Make a loooong traverse right on chickenheads until just past the big roof, then make a few 5.8 moves up over a bulge and belay off of chickenheads and chocks, or traverse farther right and belay off of a 2 bolt anchor, which gets you more rope-drag on pitches 4 & 5. Note: The bolted anchor makes an adequate emergency escape anchor as it is possible to rappel with 2 60m ropes, but you will need to extend the anchor as much as possible and will still just BARELY reach the ground. A 60m + 70m is probably ok.
P5: Make a long traverse back left just past the far left side of the upper headwall, then climb up chickenheads past a small bulge to a belay under an arete. Watch for rope-drag on this pitch.
P6: Follow the arete up past a crack and up a low-angle slab with a couple bolts to summit.


To descend, rappel off the NW side and scramble down west, then 5 single-rope rappels and some downclimbing down the west flank gets you back to the base.


Natural pro, with a couple of bolts. Bring a standard rack to a #2 or #3 Camalot and plenty of nuts/hexes, plus extra slings for slinging chickenheads & plates. Make sure to use long runners on the traversing pitches to minimize rope drag.
The route-finding on this route is highly inobvious, especially the first pitch. The descent too is unusually tricky. One's best bet for the first time up this route is to go with someone who has done it before. Oct 20, 2006
I agree; route finding on the first pitch is difficult. For P1 I would suggest that climbers look up and right for a clump of grasses NEAR the start of the diagonal crack of P2 (viewable in February, anyway- likely viewable any time of the year). This provides an objective; climb whatever way (safely) possible to achieve the small ledge associated with this clump of grasses).

And, when Bill and I did this a few days ago, we choose different belay stances than that listed above. We made P3 shorter (by belaying in the scoop at the bottom of the short face/corner and just above (20 ft) the step across) and P4 longer. Feb 20, 2007
David Yount
Seattle, WA
David Yount   Seattle, WA
Wasteland 5.8 6P **** - Cochise Stronghold - Arizona

It's easy to identify Wasteland Pinnacle from the primitive campground near the Forest entrance. Looking directly west is the most impressive rock face with three vertical lichen streaks, and a generally flat top. To its right is a forested saddle. From the broad summit follow skyline left, dropping off the summit to a formation behind. Continuing left is Wasteland Pinnacle with a 400 foot drop on its left. The Pitch 3 chimney is facing you, at the bottom of the pinnacle, near the left side, below the faint black color. Pitch 4 traversing roof begins near the left side and continues right and slightly upward. Pitch 6 takes the low angle arete at the top left.

Now situated at the base of the route, the climbing route begins on a large dirt ledge, shaded by a gorgeous twin trunk tree. To orient for Pitch 1, there's a Right Facing Corner that is heavily right leaning; Pitch 1 always remains clearly left of this.

Pitch 1: Go left and up, shooting for a small clump of cactus 40 feet up, at the top of a very short Right Facing Corner. Pull a bulge to a large ledge. There's a natural arch to sling on this ledge, just past the cactus. Now trend up and right to a second ledge, and again to a larger ledge to belay.

Pitches 2-4 as written in the Description above. Beware Pitch 3 will have rope drag, you may want to split it up.

Pitch 5: Traverse left and slightly down, beneath the roof, until close to the let end of the roof. Belay near where there are two small holes/pits/huecos at your feet and a large round scoop in the wall above.

Pitch 6: Climb the small roof near the round scoop, then go right and up the steep heavily featured short dihedral, gaining a large ledge. Step left and ascend the rounded arete past a bolt ot the summit.

Alternative Descent: This is direct and simple, dropping you 100 feet up the main gulley from your packs. However, we may have been lucky, as some of the rope pulls do not look statistically friendly. Alternative Rappel: Find the rap anchor hangers that are far right. Double rope rappel over an impressive overhang to rap anchor hangers equipped with cord, webbing, and rap rings. Double rope rappel to a slab, you may use a provisional rap station that is right and slightly up the slab, or traverse left 40 feet to another pair of rap anchor hangers. It may be a safer rope pull from the provisional rap station. Either way, a third double rope rappel reaches the ground. Your packs are just 100 feet down this loose upper gulley. Aug 21, 2008
randy baum
Minneapolis, MN
randy baum   Minneapolis, MN
if not for the bad rope drag on the upper pitches, this route would be a 4 star outing. Oct 26, 2008
Luke Bertelsen
Tucson, AZ
Luke Bertelsen   Tucson, AZ  
Seems like everyone has a different way of doing this one. We did it in 5 pitches instead of six. We did not get bad rope drag at all, and we didn't clip any bolts. I think the circuitous nature of the upper climbing keeps me from suggesting the full 4 stars.

Pitch 4 (traversing under the first roof) is one of the best easy trad pitches I have ever led. Good continuous climbing and good exposure.

We also rapped the backside slightly different and ended right at the packs (nice!!!!).

Hope to have more beautiful climbing days like today out in the Stronghold very soon. Nov 30, 2008
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Are the traversing pitches on this route safe to follow for a second who doesn't lead and who will be at or close to her limit on 5.8, but is otherwise comfortable with the "long multi-pitch in a remote setting" routine? Mar 10, 2009
Tucson, Arizona
eMurdock   Tucson, Arizona
Charles, I finally did this route after living in AZ for nearly 17 years. The traverses are on good plates and could protect well. The route does not actually involve tricky route finding, just follow the Kerry guide descriptions and photo. With a 70 meter rope we cruised the route in 4 pitches without rope drag. P1 climb up to base of chimney, P2 chimney and climb to base of roof, P3, traverse right and over roof and back left and down under juggy roof, P4 straight up to the top. It also avoids the last rap. Dec 16, 2010
Bob Graham
Portland, OR
Bob Graham   Portland, OR
Did this climb yesterday and loved it, a really good classic Cochise adventure. With a 70 meter I was able to link pitches 1 and 2 up to the base of the chimney. The chimney was super fun! Moving onto the face was cool and interesting face/corner climbing above. The long traverse right was just awesome and the steep roof moves bomber. We did the normal rap off climbers left into the west gully, did some downclimbing and rappelling to get to the last tree. We did not rap off the tree though, we traversed the ledge about 10 feet to a pair of belay bolts and rappelled down to the webbing slung hole in the rock on the first pitch of the route, this brought us straight back to our packs, very nice. Dec 20, 2010
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
Having done this twice now with both standard and slightly altered belay positions for pitches 4 and 5, I think I recommend this: on p4, instead of belaying just above the roof, belay just below (I used some small cams, nuts, and a chickenhead lasso). Pitch 5: climb the roof and the easy traverse, then make a new belay just right of the final headwall. Pitch 6: Climb the headwall to the top.

This set-up reduced rope drag on some of the most chickenhead-intensive pitches and allowed the leader to climb the steep sections right off the belay with no rope drag and in full view of the belayer.

I think many climbers will find bringing a full set of small to large nuts and a set of micro-cams quite helpful in addition to a standard rack (we used singles on cams, but if 5.8 is at or just below your limit, you may want more). Dec 27, 2010
I seemed to have missed the belay for the 5th pitch and decided to link it with the 6th. You can make it to the top with a 60m, but as you would except the rope drag becomes horrendous.

On the descent we decided to rap off to climber's right (east side). The first double rope rap brings you to the alternate bolted belay for pitch 4, which is also described in the above beta as being the escape route. From here, another double rope rap brings you to the "ground". On this rap be sure to STAY TO CLIMBER'S RIGHT, ie uphill, toward the tree in the gully. If you end up rapping to the left (to free stuck ropes or something) you will rap off the ends of your ropes. Once on the "ground", there is an old, fixed, blue, 8.5mm rope which you can rap down a steep section of the gully to a point where it is safe to descend on foot. Jan 21, 2011
Anaheim, CA
2tradornot   Anaheim, CA
The best way to finish is do as it says and turn the bulgr ASAP on pitch 4 and go straight up and belay (5.8). Then look for the humongous chicken-head just to the climbers left (this was the picture on the front of climbing magazine years ago). Throw a sling over top and skinny up it and on up the steep chicken head wall to the top. (5.8) Nov 12, 2011
Scottsdale, az
Sayfe   Scottsdale, az
Fun climb, excellent maze of zig zags, chimney, chicken heads, long run it traverse, and exposure... No doubt one of the best climbs in AZ. Not a place for sport bolt climber!

Take plenty of small wires to protect, chimney is fun but not much pro on it,
on the traverse to the right, belay after you climb up about the overhead.
On the trevarse back, go left for 60-80 ft, then head up.

New anchors on the left bellow the last pitch with a rap that'll take you to the ledge bellow.

Sayfe Mar 29, 2012
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com
Tucson, AZ
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
A topo for this route can be downloaded from here:

toofasttopos.com/free/ Jan 20, 2014
I've done this route twice now- the first time we did the alternate descent and had to abandon a rope stuck on chicken heads. A week later, we retrieved my rope, but almost lost two other ropes while pulling from the 3rd belay station described in the comments above. Luckily, we managed to leave with all our gear.

For future parties, I'd strongly suggest against this rappel route. Wicked fun climb though- get on it! Feb 17, 2014
Here's my beta:

Starting on Fire Sermon is a nice way to go but you don't have to follow it exactly. On the first pitch, we went about 20' up from the thread instead of going left to the bolted alcove and then traversed easily left to join Fire Sermon above th2 2 bolts in the alcove. This makes P1 about 5.7. The 2nd pitch of Fire Sermon is very nice bolted slabbing - it seemed to be about 5.8 or so. This avoids grunting up the chimney on the normal P2. There is now a bolted anchor at the end of P4 - not really needed but makes things go quicker. After coming through the overhang on P5 there are 3 bolts to the left of the normal finish. These go at 5.8 or so and make the finish a bit more fun. These variations keep the route at the 5.8 level.

On the descent we traversed over to the top of the fire sermon P1 - this give the final rap a bit nicer line. Mar 24, 2014
I'm heading to the stronghold and am looking at climbing this route. There is a lot of info on the what seems like the infinite ways to rap off this climb but nowhere does it state if you need two ropes for the raps . Can this be rapped with one rope or is two necessary ? Dec 17, 2014
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
One 60 meter rope works for the standard descent. Dec 17, 2014
thanks for the information Charles . Dec 22, 2014
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
  5.8- PG13
Jon Ruland   Tucson, AZ
  5.8- PG13
this route seems overrated. it has one 4-star pitch and the rest are 1- or 2-star pitches (pitch one may even be a bomb and should not be attempted by an inexperienced leader). also the semi-hanging gear belays and traverse pitches make for logistical nightmares. i actually think adding a couple of bolted anchors to this route would improve it immensely, but it still wouldn't get more than 3 stars in my book.

i suppose if you're into long traverse pitches you'll really like this route. otherwise, meh. a good day out, but not something i would recommend.

the descent was pretty cool though, surprisingly. i thought it was going to be a major PITA. Feb 4, 2015
Luke Bertelsen
Tucson, AZ
Luke Bertelsen   Tucson, AZ  
I always thought one of the best things about the route was the lack of bolts. You have have to use old skill climbing skills like:

Building gear anchors (gasp)
Route finding (oh no)

It's a bummer that a quality rating would be tied to whether the route was so user friendly that any person who was in the gym for the first time 3 months ago could waltz right up it with no issues. Feb 5, 2015
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com
Tucson, AZ
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
It's about personal taste I think. For those that like the challenge of the route finding and anchor building this climb is stellar. I really like it a lot. Feb 5, 2015
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
  5.8- PG13
Jon Ruland   Tucson, AZ
  5.8- PG13
nice luke. i see you enjoyed this route more than i did. that's great.

i don't think the quality of the climbing itself warranted more than 2 stars. 3 would be a stretch so it sounds like you're adding stars simply because there aren't any bolts on it. if that's what you're into then cool, but for me the lack of bolts by itself isn't enough to add stars to a route. Feb 9, 2015
San Pedro, California
Benjaminadk   San Pedro, California
Solid adventure route. For the first pitch I started at the twin tree and headed straight up into the crack in a right facing corner and took that all the way to the base of the chimney. I thought this pitch was the crux of the climb (though i'm not sure it is the standard start) with tricky gear and some awkward moves. The chimney pitch is probably the money and is 4 stars. The traverse pitches are good fun and the last pitch is an easier (over) bolted climb to the top. The varied climbing and exposure make this fun but I would prefer a more direct line on the upper pitches. Mar 3, 2015
Kevin Wagner
Tucson, AZ
Kevin Wagner   Tucson, AZ

Our team decided to rap the fixed line to avoid having to pull our ropes through loads of cactus, and it was probably one of the worst decisions I've made climbing. The rope was making cracking and breaking noises while I was rapping – I thought whatever, it's probably just stiff, until the sheath actually started cracking and breaking on the other people rapping in our party.

Ultimately, we put at least 4 core shots in this rope, which is obviously very old and in a terrible spot for wear since it is very often soaked in water/mud and exposed to direct sun for long stretches of the day.

If I find time in the coming weeks I will replace the line, since pulling a rope here looks only vaguely possible. Does anybody know when the fixed line (blue) was left here? I'm interested to know how long a new line will last if I were to replace it. Jan 10, 2017
Daryl Allan
Sierra Vista, AZ
Daryl Allan   Sierra Vista, AZ
Thanks for the notice Kevin! :)

How about we move the last rap station? Seems like a better option than leaving ropes up there to rot and trash the place up. Fwiw, I'm pretty sure a rope is visible from much further away than a couple painted rap hangers. Jan 13, 2017
Daniel Evans
Phoenix, AZ
Daniel Evans   Phoenix, AZ
Descent Beta:
Rappel from the bolted anchor on the climber's left of the summit. The anchor to the climber's right is the alternate descent route and is notorious for stuck ropes.

Rap #1: Rappel down the climber's left of this first buttress to the back side of the Wasteland formation. A 70 m rope barely reaches the ground here. Once down, walk down this gully on easy ground 10-15 ft. and rappel from a large tree with slings.

Rap #2: There is a large tree ~1 ft in diameter with several slings on it. This rappel will take you to another dirt ledge where you will see cairns to your immediate left. Follow these cairns down and left over easy 5th class. There is one spot with a 5 ft drop that looks worse than it really is. Navigate down this to another tree with slings.

Rap #3: Second tree ~1 ft in diameter with several slings. From this rap station, you can reach the ground with (2) 70 m ropes. Otherwise with (1) 70 m rope you will come up ~30 ft shy of the ground and need to set up a 4th rappel from a tunnel feature in the rock. While the tunnel feature feels relatively solid, it isn't the most inspiring if you don't absolutely need to use it. Better to use (2) 70 m ropes if you have them.

This is the best, least sketchy rappel option and drops you right at your packs. We had no issues with stuck ropes this way either. (Note: This beta is essentially the same as the drawing from what appears to be a guide book above, but the drawing alone was not very clear when we climbed it. So, hopefully this clarifies the descent option for those venturing out there for the first time.) Nov 28, 2017
CAUTION: This last post suggests rapping with double 70m ropes but the terrain between that tree and the ground has lots of things to get the rope stuck on. Apparently they had success and had luck on their side. I always find shorter raps work best in the Stronghold. Last time I did this at night without a headlamp and did use the thread thru in the rock face described below (it was hard to find in the dark) just to decrease the risk and I felt really good about it and the rock quality. Here is the text from my guidebook:
"1st rappel (80’) - Rap NW off the top of dome into the gully. Scramble down the gully 25’, then traverse right, away from the steepening gully on 3rd-class terrain. Then descend about 100’ to an oak tree with a rappel station.
2nd rappel (90’) - Rap down to where a bouldery ledge starts to wrap around the formation back to the SE face. Routes #1-#5 start from around this ledge. To continue to the base, scramble down 150’ of 4th/5th-class to another tree with rappel slings. (Some shorter raps are available if needed).
3rd rappel (50’) - Rap from an oak tree at a steep drop off that lands right at the 4th rappel.
4th rappel (80’) - Rap from the large oak tree to a small thread-through (hole) in the rock near a cactus garden (P1 of Wasteland (#7)) .
5th rappel (100’)-Rap to the ground.

On that Rap #3 listed below, with a single 70m, if you don't want to use the thread through and don't try to rap to the gear up area but stay left of the starting slab of Wasteland you will land on a grass/vegetation area just left and about 20-25' feet up from where you geared up. From here I normally scramble down the vegetated area until I can traverse left (climbers right) to the edge of the right facing corner at the start. From here you have one steep move down to the gear up area but you are only 4' off the deck and its a mild 5th class move. Feb 4, 2018
If you are describing the double rope raps down the right side of the formation I have listed in the guide, the last time I wrapped that way was in spring 2016 and there was no fixed line but pulling the rope from rap 2 to 3 was hard and I remember traversing back out on the dike to pull the rope and then having my partner belay me back in. Again, this is not a recommended rap and should only be used if you are in a desperate situation. It was probably abandoned during an emergency descent and should not be replaced. There was a very old rope for years high in the gully to the right of the formation and I could never figure out how they got to the top of the gully in the first place. It probably does not need replacement either. The anchors are in good places. Feb 4, 2018
The Wasteland formation has a fairly straightforward approach . The tree provides nice shade depending on season and offers a place to hang your packs. Yes there were a lot of fire ants with air support by a squadron of Bees but those kamikazes didn't bother us too much since it was still a cool morning.
As we geared up we spied a line of bolts off to the side and decided to rtry that as an alternate start, the actual start looking pretty easy. This whole time we kept hearing a low groaning every few minutes it was one of those 'did you hear that?" moments repeating itself. It definitely made us quicken our pace to get going.
We set off upward on the alternate which may or may not be the route now called Fire Sermon. We vectored back into Wasteland proper since we werent sure where the alternate led and we wanted W-land proper anyways. The first few pitches are very good with exc pro and varied climbing. We strung it out on all pitches with a 60m rope and set a nice hanging belay for P4 on a steep chickenhead wall with 2 short pitches until the summit. As I hung off the chickenheads contemplating in solitude the marvelous landscape I asked myself why a Hawaiian shirt is not very warm in the shade with cool breezes.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye far below i saw a dark brownish 4 legged creature ascending the gully floor fast. It was 5-6 ft head to long tail. Knowing it wasnt a Mtn lion I gasped, but what is this 'thing' ?
My partner's call for 'off belay' jarred me out of my fear of the unknown and we were back in action
The final pitch is a good one with great exposure and top out.
The Wasteland is recommended for any one new to the Stronghold Feb 19, 2018
Here is a GPS track of the approach, which is a nice level trail that mostly parallels the streambed: gunksapps.com/gpx/Wasteland…

I have also added the stream and this approach trail to OpenStreetMap.org 3 days ago
The descent for this route is problematic, and needs some maintenance. From the summit I scrambled up and left to the Northwest to find 2 thick hangers. We rappelled here, which is a slab to the right and a steep gully to the left. We dropped into the gully and our 80m rope landed us right at a small tree with many slings. This second rappel brought us down the gully (there is another, larger tree with a red anchor on the left side of the gully about 30 feet lower than the small tree), and we scrambled climber's right (Southeast) about 15 feet onto a prominent ledge with a big cairn. Here is where I think we made a mistake: we hiked away from the cliff on a worn trail, down 25 feet, to a tree anchor. I assume we should have continued climber's right, along the cliff for a while. If someone knows for certain, please chop the anchor on the tree we used and make sure cairns lead the right way. We obviously weren't the first to use this tree, I'm sure we won't be the last, and it leads to a series of 4 increasingly bad rappels (dead trees, a slung block, and sketchy hiking). We survived, but then we had to hike back up to our packs. 3 days ago