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Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

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Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 2,500'
Location: 32.4153, -110.7338 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 478,115
Administrators: Greg Opland, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: James DeRoussel on Jul 11, 2010  with updates from Kemper Brightman
Forecast:
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47° | 28°
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41° | 26°
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You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Description 

The Catalina Highway (officially the General Hitchcock Highway though nobody uses that name) climbs more than 5,300 feet and passes through five of North America's seven distinct life zones. As the road starts in the Lower Sonoran Desert and climbs to alpine forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a stretch of only 27 miles!

The vast majority of climbing areas in the Santa Catalina Mountains are accessed via this highway. Mount Lemmon provides an equal amount of diverse rock climbing, from classic multi-pitch traditional routes to bolted sport climbs. Crags are generously distributed in elevations and aspect, making it possible to comfortably climb year round.

As of 2012 there are no fees to climb due to a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Developed areas on the mountain, such as the summit parking lot, require payment. Read the nearby signage and purchase a Coronado National Forest pass if required. Both free, primitive and pay, developed camping can be found along the highway.

After winter storms the highway may close at the base while snow and debris is cleared. Vehicular and bicycle traffic can be heavy on weekends. The sub-areas of Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) are listed from lowest to highest elevation.

Getting There 

The Catalina Highway is accessed via Tanque Verde Rd. on Tucson's east side. Any amenity you could possibly desire is available at the bottom of the highway, and some basic supplies can also be acquired at the general store in Summerhaven, a small mountain community at the highway's upper terminus. Allow about 45 minutes to an hour to drive the entire 27 mile stretch.

Climbing Season



Weather station 0.9 miles from here

2,021 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',59],['3 Stars',455],['2 Stars',954],['1 Star',471],['Bomb',17]
['<=5.6',60],['5.7',126],['5.8',181],['5.9',234],['5.10',514],['5.11',410],['5.12',174],['5.13',35],['>=5.14',4],['',0],['<=V1',86],['V2-3',35],['V4-5',43],['V6-7',27],['V8-9',28],['V10-11',23],['V12-13',5],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway):
Slippery When Wet   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 130'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
Agatha Christie (Direct)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 90'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
In Lightning   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 180'   6 - Mid-Mountain : The Druid
Stoner's Boner   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   2 - Bear Canyon : Chimney Rock
Steel Crazy   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 450'   The Fortress : Southeast Face
R-4   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   3 - Windy Point East : Rupley Towers
Chihuahua Power   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   2 - Bear Canyon : Lost Hawk
Old Man   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   4 - Windy Point West : South Fin
Centerpiece   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   2 - Bear Canyon : Chimney Rock
Lizard Marmalade Direct   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 135'   3 - Windy Point East : Punch and Judy Towers
Steve's Arete   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   3 - Windy Point East : Hunchback Pinnacle
Two Kings And A Pawn   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Chessman Area : 4 - Queen
Armed Robbery   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Prison Camp (Gordon Hirabay... : Jailhouse Rock
Histoplasmosis   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   4 - Windy Point West : North Fin
Hard Day at The Orifice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Tsunami   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   3 - Windy Point East : New Wave Wall
Orifice Politics   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 105'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Coup de' tat   5.13a/b 8a 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Granite of the Apes   5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport, 90'   The Fortress : Orifice Wall
Doubt   5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 160'   Reef of Rocks : Aegir
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)

Featured Route For Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway)
Rock Climbing Photo: The dihedral start to Flight of the Imagination. W...

Flight of Imagination 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  Arizona : Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin... : ... : Continuum Crag
A really fantastic route that will test you several ways. Climb easier terrain up to the easy looking dihedral ramp. Layback, squeeze and jam your way up the dihedral to a large knob guarding the headwall. Tiptoe your way onto the knob, and make a big toss to get established on the face. Once on the steep headwall gymnastic moves on good (but hard to read) holds will lead you all the way to the top of the cliff....[more]   Browse More Classics in Arizona

Photos of Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Golden light and storm clouds low on the hill, Mt....
Golden light and storm clouds low on the hill, Mt....
Rock Climbing Photo: Electric...photo taken at Jailhouse rock.
Electric...photo taken at Jailhouse rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Meet Mr. Horny Toad.  Found this critter in the gr...
Meet Mr. Horny Toad. Found this critter in the gr...
Rock Climbing Photo: One of my favorite shots Ryan D on lead.
One of my favorite shots Ryan D on lead.
Rock Climbing Photo: Early March 2003.  Some short ice not far from Ski...
Early March 2003. Some short ice not far from Ski...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Lemmon Ice.  Jimbo on the thin stuff. Sorry we...
Mt. Lemmon Ice. Jimbo on the thin stuff. Sorry we...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting the camo process.
Starting the camo process.
Rock Climbing Photo: My thanks
My thanks
Rock Climbing Photo: Mister T's Chosspile!
Mister T's Chosspile!
Rock Climbing Photo: 5.9 mixed route off of GH trail.
5.9 mixed route off of GH trail.
Rock Climbing Photo: Has anyone ever been to this crag before 2007?
Has anyone ever been to this crag before 2007?
Rock Climbing Photo: How about this free standing tower!  Anyone been t...
How about this free standing tower! Anyone been t...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from above.
View from above.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tufa grippin'
Tufa grippin'
Rock Climbing Photo: Cres looking confident...
Cres looking confident...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake. Saw it hiking out afte...
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake. Saw it hiking out afte...
Rock Climbing Photo: Spring time flowers on the Mt. Lemmon highway
Spring time flowers on the Mt. Lemmon highway
Rock Climbing Photo: Endless Highway.
Endless Highway.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the beginning moves of Airgasm-5.10
Climbing the beginning moves of Airgasm-5.10
Rock Climbing Photo: Savo and Babo, with a durp
Savo and Babo, with a durp
Rock Climbing Photo: Jim Scott climbing on 12/15/07.  Elevation 5700ft....
Jim Scott climbing on 12/15/07. Elevation 5700ft....
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice light low on the mountain, Mt. Lemmon Hwy.
Nice light low on the mountain, Mt. Lemmon Hwy.
Rock Climbing Photo: The road up Mount Lemmon, at The Hairpin.  The cli...
The road up Mount Lemmon, at The Hairpin. The cli...

Comments on Mount Lemmon (Catalina Highway) Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 22, 2017
By andypeters
Jul 30, 2005
Just wanted to give a warning about the new hazards of that fancy Windy Point road art! While a climbing partner and I were crossing the road we observed a Ford Ranger spinning out of control. It seemed really odd because it didn't appear it was caused by driver error. When we crossed the road we then relized how slick the wet road actually was ! My partner and I are going to contact the DOT. We felt the road is going to be causing some real problem's with Bicycles, Motorcycles etc. Also my new E- mail address is andypeters520@msn.com.
By Charlene Woodley
Feb 19, 2006
What is the best guide book for Mt. Lemmon? And how much did the fires alter routes and aproaches as listed in the guidebooks?
By John Peterson
Feb 19, 2006
The best guidebook by far is Steiger. This book was a labor of love and it shows. One of those books that I'll always treasure.

And I just found one on Amazon for $8.00 (mint condition!). Sorry - but I just bought it since the pages fell out of my old one.

Nothing really wrong with Squeezing the Lemon - all the newer sport routes are there.

I don't recommend Green's Rock Climbing Arizona book. It one of the Falcon "drive by" guidebooks that makes me sick. Buy a guidebook from a local, not some guy cherry-picking the work of others.
By jbak
Feb 20, 2006
The choice of guidebooks depends mostly on whether you plan on trad or sport. Squeezing The Lemmon is good for both but is getting to be out of date. Tyler's Sport Select is a bit less out of date but covers only sport and not all crags. Eric seems to be coming out with a Squeezing update sometime soon.

Steiger's guide is WAY out of date, but a nice historical document. The BEST guide is the old under-the-counter Summit Hut guide of which I have one of about 10 copies.
By Jimbo
Feb 24, 2006
While Steiger's guide is great from a historical perspective, the new Squeezing the Lemmon II is the the most current and comprehensive guide
available.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Feb 27, 2006
The "Sport Guide" that is mentioned by the venerable jbak is no longer in print. Squeezing the Lemmon II will tell you where the sport routes are. Simply look at the description Jbak if you see [B,C] that means it is a sport route. As you say, Squeezing the Lemmon II is a little out of date,but only if you climb here all the time. There are more than enough great routes for the visitor or newly arrived. A few areas have a lot of new stuff. Troll Wall, Boot Hill, and The Chessmen. Sun Spot Crags in Molino (great for winter) and The Steep (great for summer) are not in SQ II but will be in the supplement. With luck I will get a supplement out before too long. There are 1500+ routes in SQ II. that should keep most folks busy for a while. If you drag out the hexes Jbak you might even find a route or two you have not done. In fact if you can show me that you have lead half of the 1500+ routes in SQ II I will give you a supplement for free.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Mar 7, 2006
Sun Spot Crags, Mount Lemmon's newest area is located just north of Molino Campground and now has over 30 new routes from 5.7 to 5.12 with more to come. The climbs are both sport and trad and range in length from 30 to 100 feet. The approach is short 10 to 20 minutes depending on which crags you visit. You can climb here in the coldest of Tucson weather if the sun is out. If it isn't sunny bring a warm jacket and you can still climb.
By Timothy Roehr
From: Tucson,Az
May 23, 2006
Rappel Rock, Raven Rock, The Fortress, Branch-Out Crag and parts of Panarama Wall are closed from 15 March through 30 June.
By Joseph Stover
From: Batesville, AR
Aug 28, 2006
Just to reiterate in case anyone has any doubts: Watch out for snakes!(and other things that can be dangerous also)

About two weeks ago I was out at Hairpin looking at the new landscape. It was sundown, when activity is higher I think. I came pretty close to stepping on a rattlesnake on the left side(facing the road) on my way out towards the tunnels under the road(I never noticed those before). It was about 3 feet long and about a 1.5 inch diameter, I think it was a female because it was really fat and tapered off quickly near the rattle, which someone told me is a charictaristic of females. It was curled up and immediately rattled, uncurled, and slithered off to the left once I hopped down a big boulder about 8 feet away from it and quickly became aware of it due to the rattle. Had it been curled within 2 feet of the base of the boulder, I would have been in high danger of being bitten. So watch out!
By 1Eric Rhicard
Aug 29, 2006
Having hiked, hunted, and climbed here for 25 years I have seen dozens of rattlesnakes. I have seen them every month of the year, from elevations of 2000 feet to the top of Mt. Lemmon (Murray Wall). I have seen my dog walk right over them. I have seen Bob Kerry step next to them. I have seen Bob jump straight up in the air when one rattled and land right where he started thus giving the snake ample opportunity to strike. With hundreds of friends and acquaintances covering thousands of miles not one has ever been bitten. Not that it can't happen. The chances are miniscule. If you do get bit try not to panic and get to a hospital as soon as possible and you will live. Statistics show that the people that do get killed are between the ages of 18 and 24, male with tattoos, and they have been drinking. Good luck!
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Sep 14, 2006
Definitely don't get that "Squeezing the Lemmon II" book...just kidding..stop by one of the Summit Huts on Speedway or Wetmore and pick up a copy..

Mt Lemmon is directly north of Tucson and accessed from the northeast side of the city..depending on what part of town you live would say anywhere from 10-30 minutes to get to the bottom of the highway..
By A.P.T.
From: Truckee,Ca
Sep 15, 2006
"Squeezing The Lemmon II" can also be purchased at "Le Buzz Cafe" 9121 E. Tanque Verde Rd.. 749-3903
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Feb 5, 2007
U.S. judge upholds Mt. Lemmon user charges
By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.24.2007

azstarnet.com/metro/165947
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Feb 5, 2007
Previous to Jan 07 you could also use the National Parks Golden Eagle pass which is now no longer available.

The new "America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass" which is the new interagency program pass which cost $80 will gain you access to all Federal Lands. One pass fits all.

Looking for more info....

store.usgs.gov/pass/general.ht...
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Jul 11, 2007
Mt. Lemmon is on the cover of "Rock & Ice" this month.

Nice pic of Eric Scully on Steve's Arete.
By CALEB ANDERSON
Aug 17, 2010
Lemmon Heads
By Derek Anderson
From: Tucson,AZ
Apr 21, 2011
Lemmonhead indeed , nice video Caleb..... Bless the Catalinas, and Lemmon very humbled to be able to climb here..Thanks to all who have established the climbing here :) Its amazing!
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Oct 27, 2011
Just would like to add, for trad climbing on Mt Lemmon..this is not the place to push your limit on lead for beginning trad climbers..

Polished, balancy moves with old-school ratings (ie compressed ie =sometimes 1970s ratings, ie sandbagged and watch the date on FAs) and possibly based on people who were experts at placing passive pro way back when...

By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 27, 2011
Gotta agree with Christian. Generally speaking Mt. Lemmon has trickier pro than most places that I have climbed.
By Myk BROWN
From: tucson, az
May 22, 2012
Might be old news to some, but looks like no more parking passes needed for mt Lemmon. emol.org/tucson/mtlemmon/

"The fee was cancelled after a 9th U.S. Curcuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 9, 2012 that the Coronado National Forest fees violate federal law. The $5 daily, or $20 annual, fee was collected from all drivers who parked their cars on the road to Summerhaven. Residents and workers in Summerhaven were exempt from the fee.

The fee station, by Milepost 5, is no longer open while the Forest Service reevaluates its options. The lawsuit, filed by several Tucson residents, objected to the fees for Mt. Lemmon."
By jbak
Dec 8, 2012
A shout out to Jeremy Parks... who after a shaky start, fought through to do his 1st-ever FA, an as-yet-unnamed, 2-star, 5.11+/5.12- at the Tusk. Way to go Remy !
By Mike Farnsworth
Feb 7, 2014
Hey Mt. Lemmon climbers!
I'm headed to Lemmon/Cochise for the first week in March and am requesting some beta: I'm climbing with my girlfriend, who is most interested in 8-11, while I'd like to either get some mileage on a handful of 12s or work a good 13a or 13b. We will only climb at Lemmon for a couple days max. Does anyone have any good crag suggestions that also take Early March weather into consideration?

Thanks in advance! You can PM me or post on here .

Mike
By Mike Farnsworth
Feb 7, 2014
Hey Mt. Lemmon climbers!
I'm headed to Lemmon/Cochise for the first week in March and am requesting some beta: I'm climbing with my girlfriend, who is most interested in 8-11, while I'd like to either get some mileage on a handful of 12s or work a good 13a or 13b. We will only climb at Lemmon for a couple days max. Does anyone have any good crag suggestions that also take Early March weather into consideration?

Thanks in advance! You can PM me or post on here .

Mike
By DGraham
From: Dallas
Mar 17, 2015
I just spent a week here from March 7th thru the 14th and to all those looking to go here I'd say 2 things.

1) The weather here is perfect, Colder temps near the summit and hotter temps near base, you can choose whatever temp you like. go here if you get the chance.

2) I would not recommend purchasing the guidebook "squeezing the lemmon II". We bought it and ended up just using mountain project (which is unfortunate cause nothing's better than a good guidebook) so save yourself the $30.
By Khoi
From: Vancouver, BC
Jul 18, 2015
Brand new guidebook is out!

mountainproject.com/v/new-guid...
By jaspur
From: tucson,az
Aug 3, 2015
thats MR. Lemmon to you buddy!
By Steven Groetken
From: Durango, CO
Nov 8, 2016
This would be a great climb to introduce someone to multipitch. Easy enough climbing, no hanging belays, generously bolted, walk off and fantastic summit views. (Warning: onsight spoilers below summit pic)
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit
Summit



If you face climb the whole thing, maybe it is a 5.8, but the last cruxish move at the top contains a perfect fist jam. If you do that, it feels more in the territory of a 7. Almost all of the climbing is on low angle jugs, so a beginning follower will have a great time moving up this rather quickly. I haven't climbed in AZ for a while, so this was super fun getting back on some nice gneiss. Bring some slings since this does wander a bit.
By Kemper Brightman
From: Tucson
3 days ago
What do people think about removing the section of text on the SQL 2 updates now that the new guide is out? It just seems like a big block of text on an otherwise clean page.
By Hendrixson
Administrator
From: Tucson, AZ
3 days ago
The outdated Squeezing The Lemmon 2 mile marker updates have been removed. Thanks for the suggestion.

In general Mountain Project is a living database. Incorrect and incomplete information can be corrected through the page improvement feature (preferred), reassignment, or comments. The more we put into it, the better it becomes.

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