Tag Archives: Climbing

Cochise Stronghold, Endgame

Cochise Stronghold, Endgame

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Written by Timbo, copy/pasted by David

This was our first time climbing in Arizona. We had a couple areas to choose from but ended up selecting Cochise Stronghold for its unique climbing and adventurous reputation. 

Our first decision to make was where to stay. It is a 2 hour drive from Tucson making it a long day trip. There is camping on both the east and west side of the area which in fact is how the climbs are divided up. We stayed at the Shaw House, a historic stone cabin, managed by the Forest Service and 5 minutes from the trailhead; highly recommended for the convenience.

Since the cabin is located on the east side of the mountains, we focused our climbing on East Stronghold. An examination of the internet, Mountain Project and otherwise uncovered the highly-rated Endgame route on the End Pinnacle in the Rockfellow Group. This became our objective for the trip.

On the drive in you will pass the access points to several of the other major walls before the parking lot parking, most notably The Wasteland dome. You’ll know when you’ve reached the trailhead when you see the big boulder in the middle of the road. There’s about 10 parking spots, no fee required.

The approach to the Rockfellow Group is straight forward up the main drainage climbing a single track, past several big boulders, and a number of climbing walls. When given the option stay left and always above the creek until near the top where you travers out across a slab to gain the saddle. At the top of the drainage the trail flattens out and we began winding our way through the creek, around the north side of the group, to a major split in the trail that cuts left to End Pinnacle. The approach took us about an hour.

After racking up (about 18 quick draws, Camalots .5 to 1 and a set of nuts) I started up pitch one. This was a sustained and intimidating pitch. A mix of slab and face climbing. If you get through it you’re good, the rest of the climb will ease up. David took the lead on pitch two, big run outs at a moderate grade. Take note that the traverse after the first bolt stops at the arête. There is no bolt at the end of the traverse, instead just keep going up.

Tim leading pitch one.

Pitch three was the money, David and I both agreed this was one of the best pitches we have ever climbed. A long traverse underneath a roof with massive exposure and solid holds, well protected, with one spot to place the only cam we used that day.

David peaking around the corner from the belay at pitch 3.

David dispatched of pitch four quickly with a couple 5.9 slab moves and we both agreed pitch five felt a little harder than its 5.8 grade. 

Tim topping out on pitch 4

We finally topped out after five hours of climbing, walked down to the other end of the summit and found the large pine tree to rap off. You can do this with a single 70 in 5 raps. Just keep an eye out for bolts, working your way down through the large chimney. 

It was a 10 minute walk back to the backpacks, then we raced out to the car before nightfall. Our lovely partners Andrea and Maddie were waiting for us in the truck with a case (mostly) full of tecate’s. We are lucky guys. 

This climb and trip was a treat and already has us dreaming of our next Cochise adventure. Special thanks to David’s parents Julie and Rich for operating as our base camp/bacanora bar/Arizona family in the lovely town of Tubac.

Castleton Tower, North Chimney

Castleton Tower, North Chimney

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

After driving half the day on Friday and most of the day on Saturday Ben and I got into Moab Saturday afternoon and went to climb Wall Street before it got dark. Climbing the sandstone of southern Utah is as similar to the granite of Washington as geography between the regions is. Crack climbing technique doesn’t change much, but unfortunately I have none of it. No matter though, we’re all warmed up now so we drove out to Castle Valley to camp at the trail head.

This was our big objective for the trip. Best to get it out of the way early so we can do other things. The third member of our team had a days head start on us but the Westfalia is actually a two day handicap so he rolled in to camp later that night. We all got up the next morning at 6am and beat the other potential climbers out of camp by 730am.

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The trail heads straight up the wash from the parking lot following the cairns. Eventually it runs into a road and turns left to follow it before crossing and continuing on to the base of the tower. It took us a little over and hour from the car to gain the saddle just below the tower.

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The base of the route was easy to identify because there was a team already there ahead of us. They would have served as a convenient point of reference except that they were tragically slow which meant that it was a little after 10 when we finally started climbing. The first pitch follows a great sustained hand crack up a corner. The crux of the route is a bulge at the top to pull through to reach the first belay. This was a little tight for three people.

The seconds pitch starts with a short off width section. A 5 or 6 camalot would be usefulhere  but we didn’t have one. “The bolt” seems decent enough to hang on but I wouldn’t feel great about falling on it. Climbing the chimney alternates between easy climbing and pulling several committing moves. The belay uses two large pitons fixed in the rock.

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The last two pitches can be link together if you mind the rope drag. We did not. Climb up and left out of the chimney then step over and across it to the far side and climb up to the notch. Climb through it and meet up with the last pitch of Kor-Ingalls.

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The wind was ripping pretty hard when we topped out a little after 2pm. The other group was nowhere to be seen so we hung around on top for awhile enjoying ourselves and the wind. When we couldnt take it any more we started our way down. Rappel the North Face for the most direct way back. This takes 3 double rope rappels with a 6o meter rope. Then we were back on the ground.

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April Fools Tower, Snow Creek Wall

April Fools Tower, Snow Creek Wall

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Located on the north end of Snow Creek Wall, April Fools Tower is one of several towers in the immediate area and constitutes a long approach, a short climb and a spectacular rappel. If your goal is to climb everything in in the area it should definitely be on your list. If your goal is to climb the good climbs in the area you can probably wait on this one.

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Starting at the Snow Creek parking lot, cross the bridge and take a climbers trail to the right just after the aquaduct. Cross the river and continue up to the base of Pearly Gates. To the left of Pearly Gates wall a thin trail continues up through a loose gully to the top of the wall. From here gain the ridge in front of you by means of least resistance and continue up to ridge to a small grouping of trees where the tower will now come into view in front of you. Traverse the hillside up to the obvious notch between the tower and the hill. The climbing starts here.

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From the notch move left just below the ledge and traverse around the north side before climbing up to an obvious belay ledge. (P1)

From the belay a short chimney gives way to twin cracks. Climb up to the big flake slung with rap anchors. Continue right to the chains on top. (P2)

(5.8) Gear to 2″