Type: Trad, 700 ft, 5 pitches
FA: Mike Strassman & Scott Ayers (1987)
Page Views: 6,104 total · 42/month
Shared By: David Arthur Sampson on Jan 21, 2007
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

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Seems my old route description is out of date; Check Geir's topo for an updated description....

Contrary to rc.com, I think the crux is near the top of the second pitch; protected with a pin.

P1. 5.7-5.9; poor rock quality-crack or face to right-facing crack/off-width with a slight (bolt protected) traverse up and left to shrub/tree position for belay (two old bolts/hangers).

P2. 5.9+; the "money" pitch. Thin face start to crack/off-width/chimney climbing. Protects well. Piton at the crux. Stop at fixed slings ca. 200 feet.

P3. 5.8-5.9; continue up crack to what looks like (but is not)a roof. Standard route is the traverse right to a 5.6 crack (with nice positioning and great exposure) and then up run-out face on plates (~ 210 ft). A variation listed in the guide book is left at the overhang.

P4. 5.5-5.6 face climbing to the "great ledge".

P5. Original pitch is an awkward, overhanging off-width. There are numerous (I count four) bolted face climbs to reach the summit.

IMHO, for P1 ignore rc.com and: 1) either skirt the bulge to the right, or 2) do the bolted (harder) start. The bulge is protected with a scary bolt and hanger.

Definitely an "adventure" route, 5.9 climbers heads-up.

Great exposure and positioning on pitch 3 (and a bit run-out)!


Continue up trail from peacemaker (about 120 feet).

There are several variations for the start; there is a right-leaning easy crack, a harder bolted face (down and around to the right), and the original start, I presume, that I have apparently not done. Check the Toofast topo (see comments from Geir below) for more route info.

This climb has a walk off.


Standard rack. A few old hangers on pitch 1 and for the belay for pitch two (note; the fixed hangers for the belay are suspect). Pitch 3 belay has (2) fixed pitons with slings. A fixed cam on pitch 3 protects the traverse (if you do the standard variation; you can also add supplementary gear). Build your own belay for pitch 4 in a crack/dish ~ 200 ft. Pitch 5 has options; awkward crack or bolted face climbs.
Do you need a 70 meter rope for this climb? Jun 6, 2007
This route was 1st done in 1987. Long before 60 meter ropes were available, much less 70 meter ropes. Hope this answers your question. Jun 11, 2007
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
I believe the FA's are: Mike Strassman (rip) & Scott Ayers Dec 17, 2007
The final pitch still has 3 or 4 large loose blocks on it. They are dangerous and SHOULD NOT BE KNOCKED OFF because they will take anything out in their path (climbers, dogs, vegetation, bolts, etc...) A better alternative is to do a short 4th class traverse to the final pitch of the Peacemaker. Apr 23, 2008
David Arthur Sampson  
Although I have been on this climb three times, it appears that I have never done the first pitch, as intended by the developers (I saw a recent topo that confirms my suspicions).

And, although I have not been on the climb in perhaps two years, I have heard that the route has new anchors; not sure if each pitch has been equipped or now. Anyone have any specific info on this? Apr 27, 2008
Mike Diesen
Sierra Vista, AZ
Mike Diesen   Sierra Vista, AZ
Route has been significantly improved. The roof at the first pitch is now protected by 3 new bolts and once over the roof a new 2 bolt direct has been added that is probably 10a. However you can still do the standard route. Each belay now has 2 bolt chain anchors. Very much improved. Due to dangerously loose blocks don't do the final pitch. Finish on Peacemaker. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed. May 19, 2008
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
Route details to follow by my rope gun Russ.

I had every intention of leading the first pitch until I came to the roof and decided to get on the train to Bailsville instead. Russ (my hero) led not only the first pitch but every pitch thereafter in record time.

The route is easily done in 3 pitches to the ledge (4 to the summit) using a 70m cord.

Neat moves up a cool looking dihedral. The newly added bolts on the first pitch add to the fun. Is there anyone here that can turn that bulge without dragging their right foot?

Thanks Scott for cleaning up the line. It was good a dozen years ago when I did it the first time and wasn't disappointed for the repeat.

~Susan Jan 4, 2009
Russ Walling
Russ Walling   www.FishProducts.com
Pitch one: We used the TooFast Topo and did the obvious 5.10 start over the small roof with the long reach. It is well protected and somewhat reach dependent. The second little crux is also bolt protected and is a loose-ish cranker on some crimps. Probably 10a/b. Bolted belay.

Pitch two: Easy climbing up past some bolts will get you into the dihedral proper. Continue working your way up the dihedral by using the crack, maybe some stemming and laybacking. Another two bolt anchor shows up on the right at a small stance.... clip it with a long runner and just keep going. The 5.9 bulge is just above this anchor and there will be a high bolt in your face just as you wiggle around the bulge. Really good and easy climbing continues up the dihedral, with good pro in any size you want. At the top of this section, the dihedral pushes over right, and the pro gets down to around medium nut size. It might be 5.8 or 5.9 for a move or two. There was a fixed cam with a long sling on it in the top of the dihedral, and protects the last moves into the bolted anchor.

Pitch 3: Move right out of the belay and place a 1" or so cam, nut, or something. I ended up going for the obvious weakness, mostly veering to the right, up the chicken heads and plates. After about 110ft of unprotected climbing I found a place to put a big stopper between some flakes. To my right about 30ft was some sort of bolted route, but Ides is supposed to finish up and left.... I traversed and wandered up toward the trees on the big ledge. There is another chance for a stopper or two about 30ft below the big ledge. Clip the 2 bolt anchor at the big ledge. I never did see the anchors that would break this face pitch into two pitches. They were probably off to my left a fair ways. Although slightly runout, at about 100ft between placements, the climbing is maybe 5.6 tops. I'm sure a quaking and inventive leader will be able to find many more placements if needed.

Pitch 4: We went up what is probably Peacemaker as the finish. Skip the anchor just below the summit and just push on until you are the end of your rope and sitting on the real summit. You can sling a small tree if you need more of an anchor than just sitting. Chances are good you will not be able to communicate with your second, so plan ahead.

As a side note, I checked distances at each anchor to see if the route could be rapped with a single 70m rope using the bolted belays. They will all reach, although I missed the next to the last anchor on the slab, there is a 94.8% chance that anchor is also within reach from the big ledge anchors. So if you do not want to continue to the top of the formation, rapping with a single 70m looks pretty easy from the big ledge at the top of our pitch 3 (pitch 5 on the TooFast Topo)

What I took for gear.... YMMV:
70 meter rope.
1 set of nuts.
single set of cams to 3", with doubles on 1" and 2" pieces.
8 quickdraws
6 full length slings set up as draws
Saw no fixed pins on the route, and all the bolts are giant, new, and prime for clipping. Jan 6, 2009
Aaron Miller
Santa Fe, NM
Aaron Miller   Santa Fe, NM
From the first belay anchors, I climbed up to the dihedral (no pro here, be careful!) and then got some good gear in the crack. AFter looking up the wavy corner, I decided the bolted face over the bulge to the right looked more interesting so chose that instead(this bolt line is shown heading off of the start of pitch 2 on the toofast topo). Easy 5.10 to the ledge where the belay that most people skip for "Ides" is to the left. Traversed right to belay bolts under trees and headed up some unknown 5.10 bolted route that was quite fun. 3 more pitches to giant ledge... climbing all kinds of plates and chickenheads with occasional move or two. Could finish on any of the lines above or rap off the nice bolt anchors with two ropes to the ground. Really casual and enjoyable. Is anyone going to post all these new routes going up all over Cochise? There are a ton. Feb 17, 2009
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
A new topo for this climb is now available. You can download it by clicking this link:


Enjoy! Apr 2, 2009
The last original pitch of Ides of Middlemarch, which does not appear in the topo, is the real deal. Fist/OW crack where you turn an overhang to the left. I did that pitch a while ago before there were bolted anchors in the route and I found it to pack some of the best moves in the climb. As opposed to what Dan Cohen says, I don't remember any particularly dangerous "loose blocks". You should to do it if you want to say you did Ides of Middlemarch.

This said, thanks Geir, your topos are always a good resource. Apr 3, 2009
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
Thanks for the input, Aleix! I will add the last pitch in as soon as I am able. Looking forward to seeing you at the Elk Feast! Apr 3, 2009
After my previous comment, Scott Ayers contacted me personally and explained the following to me. Quoting part of his message so that nothing gets lost, for everybody's information:
Just wanted to give you a bit of feedback about your comments on M.P.
about the route "Ides". I repeated that top pitch a few months ago, and very clearly remember passing two large blocks that could potentially cause major collateral damage (to the belayer, to routes/fixed gear below, to anyone standing at the base) if they pulled out of the crack. The first one is right before the excellent crux sequence, and is loose enough that only a bit of force could easily get it airborne. The second one is higher up, and in a lower-angled section, and likely would be harder to get moving
One more piece of historical notation. That finish that the Kerry guide describes as the finish to "Ides" is actually the finish to a previously done (obscure) route that predates "Ides". So technically that finish isn't really an essential requirement to saying one has climbed "Ides", as it "belongs" to another route! So any finish still fits the bill for completing "Ides"...
" Apr 6, 2009
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
well, guess i won't need to add that pitch after all, then. :) Apr 6, 2009
Well,even if it's part of an older route, it's still the original finish to Ides, and it's still a good pitch. Scott may remove the loose rock one of these days, he said, specially if he can find a volunteer to help him. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't done the route yet.

It was nice to see you at the elk fest Geir, wasn't it an amazing party?! Apr 7, 2009
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
hmmm. sounds like a valid point, aleix. perhaps i'll be part of the extraction team for the blocks and add the pitch in afterward. Apr 7, 2009
Justin York
Phoenix, AZ
Justin York   Phoenix, AZ
Finally did this route, and on the last day of 2009. Really enjoyed it. First three pitches (as designated on the topo) are great with varied and thought-provoking climbing. Did the entire route in 4 pitches with a 70m rope as described above by Russ. Worked out really well that way.

The end of pitch 3 (our pitch 2) heading up to the anchors looks runout with diffcult climbing, but it's neither. There are ample places for pro that you won't see until it's in your face, including a large stopper placement just before you head right to the anchors.

Along the way we saw a line of bolts rock left of our route, and right of peacemaker. Any idea what this is? Jan 3, 2010
Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
arjunmh   Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Loved this climb as a very different -- reminding me of JT in places -- climb for Sheepshead. Harder for me than Peacemaker or Absinthe (all the same grade by TooFast and I agree, roughly), but that's b/c I'm lame at chimney type stuff. Loved the route finding and the cruxy and weird trad placements. Finishing on that last pitch of Peacemaker as the sun set and the full moon was about to rise was added bonus. Mar 22, 2011
Brandon Gottung
currently Las Cruces, NM
Brandon Gottung   currently Las Cruces, NM
I thought this route was well worth doing and recommend it as a fun, mostly natural route up Sheepshead. We did the route in short pitches as described in the TooFast Topo, but I would recommend to a party solid at the grade to bring a 70 m rope and run it the way Russ commented above:
P1: 5.10, 33m: Fun pitch on scabby rock. Put your taller climber on lead; at 5'7" there was no way I could pull the first roof at 5.10.
P2: 5.9, 62m: Broken corner to some nice crack into the wide crack system. Skip the first anchor and save your stoppers/small cams for the fantastic flare/corner above.
P3: 5.8, 65m: Move right to the finger crack then trend right following easier, protectable ground. There is a good crack for a belay about 20m out, but best to link, wandering up the spectacular chickenhead-sea, eventually trending back left toward the Pinyon tree.
P4: Lots of options. Have fun up there!
Rack: Doubles tight fingers to hands, single #3. Stoppers are great, bring extra if linking: offsets and some fatties/hexes for the chickheads. 65m rope to link pitches. Jan 23, 2017
J Mo
Tucson, AZ
J Mo   Tucson, AZ
It would be super cool if the description matched the route as it exists and is climbed these days. P1 is a bolted bulge crux that is rated "10a" (presumably this rating is tossed around without overt malicious intent). Feb 12, 2017
Justin Headley
Justin Headley   Tucson
The TooFast Topo shows pitches 4 and 5 being 80 and 100 feet, so I tried to link them. It was a very fun cruise up 5.6-5.7 but I only had a 60m rope and didn't have a single inch of rope to spare by the time I got to the anchors. Link away with a 70m, but a 60m just cuts it too close.

Note: The MP route description is completely different from the TooFast Topo. Feb 12, 2017
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
To add to the debate about the original last pitch: I noticed the blocks wedged in the upper crack, but it is easy to climb around them without touching them. There is also a lot of friable rock at the beginning of the pitch, but no distinct large/loose block--maybe it's gone. A careful leader should be okay on this pitch, both in terms of his/her own safety, and those below. (Also, this pitch, while burly for the grade, is really more of a hand crack in the back of a flare than an offwidth, and a 4" piece is not needed; at any rate, whatever rack you had for lower Ides will suffice.) I also highly recommend this pitch, the climbing is great and it's a fitting ending to the route with its offwidths and chimneys on pitches 2-3 and moderate runouts on 4-5. Overall, Ides feels so different than any other Sheepshead route I've done, I loved the jagged offwidths of pitches 2 & 3, feels like dallying with the mouth of the prehistoric earth. Mar 6, 2017