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Routes in Rockfellow Dome

Abracadaver T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Good Zzzzzs T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Inner Passage T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Jabberwocky T,S 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a R
Knead Me 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Labyrinth, The T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Lumpy Unmentionables T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c X
Sensory Desuetude T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Sound of One Hand Thrashing T 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a R
Unknown S 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Unknown (NE Face) T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Unknown (S Face) T,S 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
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Type: Trad, 550 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Ray Ringle, Chip Chace, 1980
Page Views: 6,677 total · 63/month
Shared By: John Steiger on Feb 21, 2010
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

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Access Issue: Closed from March 1 to June 30 Details


An extraordinary climb, this is perhaps the best trad route of its grade in the Dragoons. It was one of the "Three Sisters" climbed by RR and Chip in the summer of 1980 in the corridor between the main Rockfellow Dome and Chay Desa Tsay: three steep and forbidding crack systems rising out of the darkness and disappearing into the slice of sky above. This and other routes in the corridor are great summer routes because they rarely see sun, except for their summit pitches. (As of this writing, though, there is a Forest Service peregrine falcon closure from March 1 through June 30, which apparently is an annual restriction).

Sound of One Hand Thrashing is the best of the Three Sisters. It requires a variety of skills, including Dragoon groove climbing, technical stemming, creative use of gear, and steady nerves. Most pitches have some climbing above questionable gear. When we summitted, we were greeted by a group of vultures eyeing us from the top of Bastion. Eerie.

For decades, after my and Herb North's ascent in 1981, I called this line "Coming to Grips," and used that name in raving about the route to many an ear. When I saw it named differently in Bob Kerry's 1991 guide, I wondered how he could have gotten the name of such a classic route wrong. I later got the chance to post the line here with the name that had been stuck in my head for so long. Recently, at a reunion of sorts, Chip and RR gently informed me that this route has all along been called Sound of One Hand Thrashing. In our mutual haze of senility, I'm not sure mine is worse than their's, but it was two to one.

Begin by climbing a short section of 5.9 to the base of the dihedral. Clip the bolt and climb the nearly flawless corner, past a pin, to a three-bolt belay (5.11c/d). (2) Continue up the groove/corner above past two bolts (5.10d) to a belay from gear maybe 20 feet below a roof. There were two fixed nuts at the belay when we did it. (3) Wild climbing on slightly overhanging rock traverses left and up to a bolt. Stiff climbing past the bolt (5.11b) leads to an obvious traverse left to a ledge and thankfully lower angle rock. Gear belay. (4) Climb a somewhat short 5.8 pitch to a gear belay just before the climbing gets harder and spookier. (5) Continue up the crack/groove system above, stepping left and then back right at one point. Above are the pitch's hardest moves, which slowly let up as you get closer to the summit jug (5.11a).


Start up the massive chimney (the Inner Passage) just right of Abracadaver and Knead Me. A short distance past Lumpy Unmentionables on the left is a striking dihedral with a bolt at its base. This marks the start of Coming to Grips. The crack to the left that arches into Coming to Grip's line is the original start of the Sound of One Hand Thrashing. Rap Abracadaver (2 ropes).


Double cams to 3.5”; full collection of wires, including at least one set of micronuts; runners, some suitable for slinging flakes.
Tucson, AZ
  5.11c/d PG13
Geir   Tucson, AZ
  5.11c/d PG13
This climb is amazing. Pitches 1 and 2 have some of the coolest climbing I have done in the Stronghold. Thanks, John, for posting it up!!

Modern climbing gear protects this climb well enough that the R rating is probably not warranted, however, all but one of the pitches have some tricky pro and demanding climbing.

We felt that stoppers, singles to .75 camalot, doubles of #1-#3, and one #4 camalot would work well for protecting this climb. All pitches are under 100'.

Thanks to Dave Merin and the ASCA, all of the bolts have been replaced with stainless steel sleeve bolts. The route is in prime condition now.

If you are interested in a topo for this route, feel free to PM me and I will send you one. You can also get one by registering at the toofasttopos website. Nov 8, 2012
Clay Mansfield
  5.11d R
Clay Mansfield  
  5.11d R
This route deserves way more attention than it gets. And now maybe it will become more popular, thanks to modern gadgets and hardware upgrades.

In terms of quality, I think it is in the same ballpark as Abra...!!!

Save for the low angle OW on pitch 4, there is challenging climbing bottom to top, on incredible rock. I have never climbed or even seen anything like the semi-circular groove on pitch 2. Dec 7, 2012
Clay Mansfield
  5.11d R
Clay Mansfield  
  5.11d R
A Southern Arizona heavyweight. Just did this again, and wanted to give it some attention for incoming Beanfesters (2 weeks away).

This climb seems a bit under the radar, but it is badass.

Current temps are perfect, and a puffy for the belayer is nice. Oct 14, 2013
John Steiger
John Steiger  
Name changed, for reasons explained in the text. I understand that Rock and Ice will be publishing a piece by Geir sometime this coming spring that may illuminate the mystery of Coming to Grips and what I’m labeling as “Namegate.” (And, um, sorry Bob K). Nov 16, 2014
Jared Guglielmo
Tucson, Arizona
  5.11d R
Jared Guglielmo   Tucson, Arizona
  5.11d R
The first 3 pitches are fantastic and loaded with difficult and committing climbing. The 2nd pitch in particular had some well spaced and questionable protection with plenty of climbing at the grade. Make sure your Stronghold trickery is solid. Mar 1, 2015
Pitch one is great climbing with tricky gear. I'm 5'4" with a negative ape index and had to resort to bridging hands on one side feet on the other: very committing and impossible to place gear from. Pitch 2 and 3 are amazing. Double rope technique (used tag line for top-roping from fixed nut on p3) works well for the lead on the 3rd pitch. Great route overall. Feb 29, 2016
TJ Aguilera
Tucson, AZ
TJ Aguilera   Tucson, AZ
This is one of the best multi pitch routes I have been on in the Stronghold, loaded with challenging climbing on really good rock. Save for a few run outs on pitch 2 and risk of a winger into the corner on pitch 3 this climb is really well protected and probably doesn't warrant an R rating. Get on this thing! Oct 17, 2017
Jared Guglielmo
Tucson, Arizona
  5.11d R
Jared Guglielmo   Tucson, Arizona
  5.11d R
After repeating this line a few days ago I still strongly suggest this not be a route to push your limits on regardless of the debatable safety ratings. Run outs on the 2nd pitch, and wingers into a corner on the 3rd are just a few of the exciting things this route has to offer. I mean, who wants to be falling off even a "PG13" pitch?! Bring your tricks and be prepared to send! Nov 6, 2017
I'll give my thoughts after repeating this climb.

The pitch 5 description is incorrect. The climber does not traverse back right after traversing to the crack out left. Do so and you're looking at crumbling, unprotected terrain for 40 feet or so. After traversing to the crack out left, continue up and left. If you find yourself in doubt, look up and left to the barely visible fist/fist++ crack.

To try to put some numbers on the mixed opinions below, I feel this climb has 5.10/5.10+R but no 5.11-/+ R.

I would recommend confident leaders bust up and left from the hand-size pieces just above the belay on Pitch 3 into the 5.10 PG/R terrain and head straight for the bolt to avoid the unfortunate, contrived, high traverse or alternate upclimb/downclimb shenanigans. Pitches 3 and 4 could be linked this way. Nov 14, 2017
Austin Sobotka
Tucson, AZ
  5.11c/d PG13
Austin Sobotka   Tucson, AZ
  5.11c/d PG13
This is a spectacular route - certainly one of the best I've done in Cochise. Raines is correct that the description for pitch 5 is wrong. You definitely don't want to step back right. In fact, it's important to know that you're going to head for the left of the two cracks; the right system actually seems more obvious since it's an extension of the system that you'll already be in. I also agree with Raines that it's best, on pitch 3, to simply bust out left onto the face from just above the belay, rather than climbing up to the roof. If you've made it that far the climbing up to the bolt should be well within your limits.

As for safety: I'd argue that the route deserves a PG13, but definitely not an R. The second pitch does have some key gear placements to keep it PG13, and though I've heard that some people have had trouble finding them they really aren't that tricky to spot, especially if you know to be looking for them (Hint: save a #3 for after the bolts and/or bring some larger hexes). In addition to P2, the start of P1 and the traverse on P3 are also PG13.

Also, as a few others have mentioned, singles to 4 with doubles in 2 and 3 and some nuts will be sufficient for the route. Jan 3, 2018

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