Ryan and I have been climbing in the Southern Arizona area, and have been to the Cochise Stronghold area a couple times. We like that area, but it is a two hour drive from our home in the Catalina foothills and makes for a pretty long day. We decided to head over to Mount Lemmon, in the Coronado National Forest, which is only 40 minutes away.
The day was perfect for climbing with the temperature at 73F and no wind. And, since it was a weekday, we would not have too many other climbers to contend with on the wall.
There are many crags here, mostly single pitch climbing, all well bolted with “lower offs” in place.
We chose the “wall of the flying scorpions” because it had several routes, some low enough for me, and most harder, for Ryan to climb.
This is the view from the parking area and our routes are on the far right rock wall.
We had a bit of a hike to get through the gully and over to the crag. One thing I have learned about hiking in the desert is that the cactus are not the worst offenders. I used to believe that the cacti, with their sharp spines, were the only foliage to be avoided. But the cactus are not the biggest problem! The brush and bushes, none of which are the iconic saguaro variety, are the real danger. Look at the spikes on this bush!
This, and the many large aloe vera plants with their razor sharp leaves, are the real obstacles along the path.
We made our way to the other side of the valley and found the wall.
These are the easier routes, so just a warm up for Ryan! I made it up this first, 5.8 just fine.
But, 1/3 of the way up the second wall (5.9) I had a little problem.
Turns out this rock was a little sharper than I had hoped. As I pulled up on a finger tip hold, I sliced my index finger. It wasn’t too bad, but the blood made the rest of the route a little slippery and I then took a larger piece of my thumb off.
That was ok because these were the only two routes I was going to attempt on this wall anyway. So I finished off the climb and we moved down the wall to Ryan’s routes, 5.10b, 5.10b/c and a 5.11-.
Ryan’s routes were longer and obviously harder. At this point I was just belaying him and taking some shots from the base of the wall. A pretty view!
The view from the base of the wall, looking back on the road leading up Mount Lemmon
Ryan’s favorite climbing shirt. Last year’s Christmas gift from his sister.
We were not alone at the crag, a few other duos were there working the wall as well. We caught a glimpse of them as we drove away.
Zooming in on the wall, you can see one of their back packs (circled) where the belayer is standing and the arrow indicates the climber on his way up.
This must have been how Ryan and I appeared from the other side of the highway.
There are so many other crags to explore on Mount Lemmon and we will be heading back to check them out!