After the 8 hour drive from LA to the East Stronghold Campground on Thursday night, we setup camp around 1am Friday morning. That meant we slept in a bit (until 8:30am) on Friday morning. This is camp at breakfast.
Since this was Allison, Rose, Chris and my first visit to the East Stronghold our first objective was the mega classic 5.6 route, “What's My Line?”. Before climbing one has to get there...a hike of about an hour up this beautiful valley.
Beeline on Stronghold Dome ascends up to the roof on the left side. We did not climb that route this time.
February and already things are blooming. I love the desert southwest.
A nice spring-fed pool below Waterfall Dome along the approach hike.
View towards Sunsites, AZ
Thar she blows! Cochise Dome. “What's My Line?” goes up the center of the face just right of the black streak on amazing chickenheads.
Straight-on view of Cochise Dome and our planned route. To get on the route one chimneys up a small side canyon and comes out about 1/3rd the way up the dome on the left edge. Then, clip a bolt and swing out past the blank face into the sea of chickenheads.
On the way up we were trying to find the correct squeeze crack to access the start of the route and I noticed bolted line up this blunt arete. I climbed it hoping it would give a better view of where we needed to go. It was probably 5.9ish slab climbing on pretty brittle rock. Worth doing if you're in the neighborhood.
Alright, now were in there...almost to the start of the route.
Rose, Chris and Allison racking up to get the technical climbing going.
This shows the bolts/chain on the face behind Allison that are used to clip and swing (A0) out into the chickenheads. Apparently it's 5.10c slab if you opt against the A0 but the fall would be a fun whipper back towards the belay if you blew it. With a single cam belay holding Allison on the ledge, I opted for the A0 action.
Established amidst the chickenheads out on the face. Secure, awesome and exposed climbing.
Allison following my lead with Chris leading behind.
Like a climber's playground out there.
Rope management on the chickenheads can be easy
The belay anchor around two huge chickenheads
Looking across the way at End Pinnacle. A group was up there with a power drill establishing a new finish above “End Game”
On the summit of Cochise Dome.
The descent involved a couple of short raps and then a short walk off. This show old manky bolts on the right with the new rap bolts on th left.
Rose among the chickenheads
Chris and Rose up on the dome. Chris is in the upper right at the top of the second pitch while Rose is beginning to climb the second pitch.
Rose and Chris on WML. Chris is just setting off on the third pitch.
Color version of the same photo.
After climbing WML, Allison and I stopped by this beautiful line, “Forest Lawn”, 5.9. Perfect finger crack laybacking.
For the second pitch of “Forest Lawn“ we opted for the suggested alternate finish, “Pair a Grins“, 5.10c. Looking down the “Pair a Grins” finish of “Forest Lawn”
Allison has just left the crack of “Forest Lawn” P2 and is on “Pair a Grins”
“Pair a Grins“ follows bolts on the steep arete just right of the standard second pitch of “Forest Lawn”
This photo shows nicely the first pitch of “Forest Lawn” and then the right skyline is the bolted “Pair a Grins” second pitch.
Nice light at the end of the day
On this trip I was trying out a new Acme helmet prototype. Despite how awesome I looked in the helmet, I found it to be lacking the strength required for the rigors of climbing.
Day two found us hiking up to the Wasteland Dome for the classic 5.8 “Wasteland” route which ascends the dome pictured here more or less up the center of rock as seen from this vantage.
As I shoed up for the Wasteland I noticed I ended up with some green lichen on my shoes from the “Forest Lawn” route.
Allison seconding P1 of “Wasteland”. Halfway up P1 I saw a couple of bolts leading through a steeper, more interesting section of rock and opted to take that bolted variation. That meant, though, that we'd have to traverse back to the right quite a bit to get back on the proper route. It was worth it.
Chris and Rose following us up the second pitch.
The third ptich involved a bit of my favorite climbing--chimney--at the start. At this point where I had exited the chimney, I clipped directly into a pitch of pro (not this poorly slung chickenhead) and hauled up our pack from Allison so she wouldn't have to chimney up with a pack.
The top of pitch three was phenomenal--Steep but super positive chickenhead climbing with perfect nut placements for pro.
Allison following on pitch 4, a short traversing pitch with great exposure.
Looking up pitch 5. More steep chickenhead climbing!
Allison topping out of pitch 5. One more super short, easy pitch to the summit.
The heat had our feet sweating big time. Allison's red shoes were turning her feet red.
It's a bit of a complicated descent with some downclimbing and five raps but it went well.
On our descent we spied Chris leading pitch 5.
And he's up there!
Rose sussing out the moves to pull up over the bulge/roof on pitch 5
Chris and Rose high up on the dome
The white and dark specks near the top are Chris and Rose
After descending from Wasteland, Allison and I went to check out a route called “Nightcrawler” on Owl Rock. It was a short hike up from where we had parked for Wasteland. This century plant was seen along the hike up.
This is Owl Rock. “Nightcrawler”, 5.9, goes up the crack near center at the bottom and then up the heavily featured face above.
Allison seconding up “Nightcrawler” in nice light
For our final day, we drove over to the west side via Middlemarch Pass to climb on Sheepshead. This is the gorgeous approach.
Chris and Rose headed over to “Ewephoria”, 5.7, while Allison and I headed up the 7 pitch “Peacemaker”, 5.10a. This is a view up the route showing the slabby first pitch.
Looking down P1...lots of slab followed by an easy roof.
Looking down P2. A couple of steep but juggy roof moves got me up here. A one point I went to jam my fingers in an awesome-looking undercling only to notice about 30 beetles hiding in the crack. I opted to skip the undercling.
I stopped here in the middle of P3 to take this photo because the moves to here were so damn fun I had to document it!
Lookign up the visually appealing roof on P4
Allison seconding P3
The section between Allison and me in this photo is the slabby crux of the route...very thin.
When we topepd out on our route we could see Chris and Rose on the big ledge at the top of their fourth pitch on “Ewephoria”. Perfect timing!
Looking south towards Tombstone, AZ
Allison finishing up!
Chris and Rose had one last pitch to climb, an overhanging wall on the side of the chimney.
Summit photo on Sheepshead!
In black and white the grass looks like snow
Back at camp after three days of great climbing and fun!
In case you were a bit curious about the Cochise name..
The climbing was done but the next morning I would have time for a trail run from the east side to the west stronghold via the Cochise trail. It was a great way to wrap up the trip.