Climbing News

Good Deal on a Rope at Summit Hut - January 19, 2008

Summit Hut has a good deal on a Mammut Eiger 60 x 10.5 rope. It is $149.00 plus tax. A link to the rope is at: Mammut Eiger. If you are too lazy to drive down there and pick one up, it qualifies for free shipping.

Fall Beanfest - 2007

The fall 2007 Beanfest is going to be held on October 20th in the East Stronghold and Ian is the beanmaster.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. The fall beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 84b which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Hopefully, there will be a toast to Mike Strassman who passed away in early July.

Spring Beanfest - 2007

The spring 2007 Beanfest is going to be held on April 28th in the East Stronghold and Fred Nakovic is the beanmaster. Here is a message from Beanmaster Fred:

Hope ya'll are getting ready for the Bean Fest! Cyler's t-shirt design is going to be the envy of past Fests and a model for future Fests! There'll be lots of small shirts available that will show off your curves and muscles, those things people love to stare at. And the beer's going to be DARK! Two kegs of it. If your beer taste leans toward 'lite' brews that redneck or gay activists like bring your own swill. But no matter what your gender preference EVERYONE is welcomed! If you have friends that aren't climbers invite them. They'll soon be admiring the healthy drunk climbers and secretly wishing they too could send a 5.12! Continue to spread the work amongst the world wide web of this most celebrated event!

I'll be putting together a list of standard food items and quantities. Those that wish to contribute drop me an email and I'll provide suggestions. If you're really the cool type you'll bring some home cooked or other good stuff just for the heck of it. Wood too is needed. Whoever's got the baddest car stereo with the biggest batteries should drop me a line too. If you have an idea of a physical contest that is really only possible to do when completely sober drop me another note. It's everyone's party!

According to temperature history of April 28th for Dragoon, AZ.

Average max/min: 77 F / 55 F
Record max/min: 91 F / 37 F
Last year max/min: 64 F / 42 F

Bean yourself

Spring 2007 Beanfest Flier

Spring 2007 Bean Fest
April 28th, Cochise Stronghold East Side

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. The fall beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 84b which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Fall Beanfest - 2006

The fall 2006 Beanfest is going to be held on October 21st in the East Stronghold and Chris Baldwin is the beanmaster.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. The fall beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 84b which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Bill Lundeen Severely Injured Skiing [3/27/2006]

On Saturday Bill was skiing along the edge of the Dana Plateau above Ellery Bowl, by himself, and fully aware of the huge cornices that have built up from numerous recent storms. He was above the Chute-out Couloir when the cornice released with him on top, despite having been some distance back from the edge. After riding the slide to the bottom of the chute(which he'll need to tell you about over a Margarita sometime...), he found himself suddenly out from under the weight of the snow and ice just after it had slowed to a crawl. He used his left arm, the one functioning limb, to get himself the rest of the way down to the road a few hours later. He was thankfully found by Brian who had come out looking for him on the snowmobile, before dark.

The TPR crew got him down the mountain and to Mammoth Hospital where he has been treated for the past week with 8 broken ribs with a punctured lung (hemo/pneumothorax), several right leg (fibular) fractures, multiple knee ligaments torn, and a shattered right shoulder blade which was repaired surgically. He is still in need of further MRI's and probable knee surgery, which will come later. Now he is past the most critical part and should be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. True to form, my big brother has dealt with this with a flexible attitude and even laughs when he's been coherant, though laughing with 8 broken ribs doesn't seem to be so very comfortable...

An account has been set up to help defray the extensive hospital and surgical bills that will be continuing to add up for the next few months. For anyone willing and able to help out, here is how to do it:

Make check payable to: Tucson Federal Credit Union
on reference line include: acct #55407-2, Bill Lundeen
PO Box 42435
Tucson, AZ 85733

Thank you to all who send their encouragement, support, and positive energy, and to those who are able to help with the finances. He will be staying in Sonora for at least the next month or so.

Note: the above write-up was taken from a thread on at: I believe the write-up is by Bill's brother Jim.

Spring Beanfest - 2006

The spring 2006 Beanfest is going to be held on April 1st in the East Stronghold and Sonja Smith is the beanmaster. There will be a bouldering competition on Saturday with registration beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday morning.

Spring 2006 Beanfest Flier

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. This year's spring beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 85a which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Anchors removed from Beeline (12/20/2005)

Steve Grossman was in town last week and he spent a day in the Stronghold. One of the things he wanted to accomplish was the removal of the anchors in the middle of the first pitch of Beeline - which he did.

According to Bob Kerry, "Beeline is one of the finest climbs in the Stronghold. It is clean and well protected, where it is 5.9. The route initially follows a thin crack, which shoots straight up to the right edge of the large overhang. The rating only applies to the first pitch. The second pitch is fun but not up to the standard of the first..." The climb was put up in 1972 by Merle Wheeler, Mark Axen, and Gary Axen. Ben Burnham evidently agreed with Bob Kerry and decided to "improve" the route by adding a set of anchors in the middle of the first pitch. The thought being that you could climb part of the first pitch, clip the anchors, and lower off - without the "inconvenience" of having to climb the second pitch. Adding bolts, hardware, etc. to an existing route without consulting the first ascent party (which Ben did not do) is generally considered unethical by the climbing community at large.

Steve Grossman and Ben Burnham met at the Cafe Terra Cotta two years ago to discuss Beeline, along with other bolting issues. I did an interview with Steve a couple days after they met. The following quote is from that interview. "The first time a mid-pitch anchor showed up was quite a long time ago on Beeline down in the Stronghold on Cochise dome. A lot of people were pretty upset about it, but nobody removed the bolts. Ben Burnham took that to mean that there was no real objection to them being there. Even though he took a lot of heat for putting them in and people were expressing their dislike of that fact. It does definitely alter your experience climbing that route. The bolts werenít pulled. I told Ben that I had every intention, the next time I was down there, of pulling those bolts. He didnít have a problem with it. Putting in a drilled station for convenience sake where it didnít exist on an established route was another big issue." (link to the full Steve Grossman interview)

Steve made good on his word. The next time he was in the Stronghold, he removed the anchors on Beeline.

Rebolting of Warpaint during the Beanfest

Here is an e-mail I received from Jerry:

On the weekend of Nov 5-6, 2005, Warpaint, on Westworld Dome in the West Stronghold, will be upgraded with new bolts. The route was originally established in 1989 by Eric Fazio-Rhicard and Bob Kerry using 5/16 buttonheads and SMC hangers, some of which are now exhibiting rusting on both the heads and the hangers.

When the dates were set for this project the planners were unaware of the fact that the Beanfest was also scheduled for this weekend. Due to the logistics involved in coordinating multiple people to assist with the work involved in a project of this magnitude it will not be reasonable to postpone. Please accept our apologies for the hassle this causes to anyone who was planning to do the route during this time, and we sincerely hope that the increased margin of safety that the new bolts will provide in the future will make up for the present inconvenience. Anyone interested in contributing to the local climbing community by assisting with this project would be most welcome!

2nd Annual City of Rocks Boulder Festival

The second annual Sonora Bouldering Festival is being held on October 28th through October 31st. It will be held at the City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico, three and a half hours east of Tucson, in-between Deming and Silver City. The fee to camp is $10 per night per vehicle, with showers, tables, and a pay phone at the park. The bouldering is so good, it is known as "Hueco without the politics". A small diner is located north in Hurley, or Demming has all the normal accommodations, to include a Super Walmart and plenty of restaurants. Take a longer drive Sunday, and go north through Silver City, then up through the pine forests, to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings, or check out the hot springs just next door to the park. We will try and spread out over different camp sites for extra elbow room, but will consolidate for a group slack line and fire pit area. Bring climbing shoes for the rock, a lawn chair to enjoy the cool 5200' elevation, and a telescope for the crystal clear night views of the sky.

For more information, consult this flyer:

PDF of the 'City of Rocks Boulder Festival' Flyer

Fall Beanfest - 2005

The fall 2005 Beanfest is going to be held in the west Stronghold at the "Isle of You" campground on November 5th. Clay Sparks is the beanmaster. For more information, you can contact Clay.

Descriptions of past Beanfests can be found at the following links:

Spring Beanfest - 2005

The spring 2005 Beanfest is going to be held on April 30th in the East Stronghold and Charlie Schmidt is the beanmaster. This year's beanfest will feature a slide show by Dave Baker. Dave Baker is a southern Arizona climbing pioneer and legend and I would highly recommend attending his slide show. Also, according to Charlie, the bouldering competition is slated to return this year.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. This year's fall beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 85a which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Fall Beanfest - 2004 (9/5/2004)

The fall 2004 Beanfest is going to be held on October 9th in the East Stronghold. Frank and Maureen are the beanmasters (Bean Team) and they have put out a flyer.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. This year's fall beanfest is in the usual place: turn right on lane 84a or 85a which is before the campground in the East Stronghold. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Aspen Fire Closures have been lifted (7/31/2004)

James of the Tucson Climber's Organization reports that the areas that were closed because of the Aspen Fire are open as of July 30, 2004. Although it has not been pleasant with the closures due to first the Bullock fire and then the Aspen fire (not to mention Mountain Lions), at least we don't have another fire blazing again this summer.

More information on the Windy Point Closure (5/19/2004)

Jeff Fassett sent me this e-mail regarding Windy Point:

I thought you might want to know that on the weekends with regard to the Windy Point closure, after the traffic light, you can't park and walk down from the geology vista area. I was approached by the ranger and told to leave the area when I was parked at the Colonel Birdseye pullout. You really cannot stop till after the Matterhorn area.

More information on the Windy Point Closure (4/26/2004)

Gary sent me the following e-mail regarding Windy Point:

I'm hearing that you can climb at Windy Point- you just can't stop your car and/or park there. There is a trail from Geology Vista that runs to Hitchcock so you can walk in and still avoid the road.

Lower Climbing Areas Opened but Windy Point Closed (4/15/2004)

James of the Tucson Climber's Association reports that the lower climbing areas are back open again. They were closed from March 9 to April 13, 2004 because of a perceived mountian lion threat. Evidently, one "habituated lion" was removed and they feel that everything is safe again.

On another note, James also reports that Windy Point will be closed for approximately one month starting next weekend on April 23. If road construction progress in the Windy Point area is as fast as it has been in other areas, it is likely that the closure will be much longer than a month.

Jeff Mayhew featured as Hero in Arizona Daily Star Article (4/13/2004)

My wife pointed out an article in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star about five women backpackers in Agua Caliente Canyon. One woman slips in the water and receives a leg injury. Miraculously, within minutes, two guys with three large dogs come upon them - one of which is named Jeff and works for Southern Arizona Search and Rescue.

My wife started asking about Jeff Mayhew - doesn't he work for Southern Arizona Search and Rescue? I said yes. So I sent him an e-mail asking about it and here is his reply:

'Twas me in the article with my friend and our dogs, just out for a short jaunt. It worked out that we found them about 5 min. past a nice beach area where a helicopter could land. I was able to talk to a SARA deputy by phone from down in the canyon and he said the helicopter was available. It would have been a long carryout over slippery rocks in the dark otherwise so it worked out nicely. The article certainly took me by surprise. Nice to help restore someone's faith in the goodness of mankind (personkind).

The article is at:

Spring Beanfest - 2004 (4/8/2004)

The spring 2004 Beanfest is going to be held on April 17th in the West Stronghold. Maura is the Beanmaster.

"Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" by Bob Kerry has directions to the west Stronghold:

"This area is located in the Dragoon Mountains about an hour southeast of Tucson. Take I-10 east to Benson, then go south on Hwy. 80 through St. David. Continue south and just before Tombstone turn left on Middlemarch Road [first left after milepost 315]. Follow this 'autobahn' of dirt roads 9.8 miles to a sign for the West Stronghold.

Take the left and follow the dirt road for 5.7 miles. Maura has picked out a camping area there and she will mark the site with cairns, etc. on the road. There should be plenty of camping space. As usual, there may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc.

Moutain Lion Closures (3/26/2004)

On March 9, the Sabino Canyon Recreation area was closed due to the perceived threat of Mountain Lions. This closure does impact climbing areas outside of Sabino Canyon. The Hairpin, Rivendale, and Hidden Jewels are within the closed area. From the map, it also appears that the Prison camp climbing areas are also closed:

Map of the Mountain Lion Closure Area

For more information, see the Coronado National Forest Website

Dean Brault Injured Ice Climbing in Colorado (2/26/2004)

The following article was posted in the Tucson Citizen website on February 25, 2004.

Assistant Public Defender doing OK after fall while Ice Climbing

Dean Brault fell 60 feet in a canyon about 25 miles north of Dureango, Colo.

By Irene Hsiao

A Pima County assistant public defender should return to Tucson soon after suffering broken bones and a head injury when he fell 60 feet while ice climbing in southern Colorado.

Dean Brault, 33, was rappelling Friday when he hit a ledge, bounced off and fell, said Dave Abercrombie, a Durango Fire and Rescue Authority spokesman.

He is in good condition, according to a San Juan Regional Medical Center official in Farmington, N.M.

His wife, Margaret Koppen, said he has a broken wrist, ankle and nose and extensive bruising, but does not appear to have suffered brain damage.

Rescuers spent about two hours stabilizing his spine, strapping him down and setting up ropes on top of a cliff to lift him up, Abercrombie said.

Brault was airlifted to the New Mexico hospital, where he was treated for head trauma, he said.

Cascade Canyon, where he fell, is about 25 miles north of Durango, Colo.

Two or three people fall each year in the area, Abercrombie said.

"We go in, patch them up, get them out and send them to hospital," he said.

Brault's fall was serious - any fall more than twice the height of person is considered significant, Abercrombie said.

Fire officials got the call at 9:51 a.m. and Brault was removed at 11:35 a.m., he said.

Twenty-eight members of from La Plata County search and rescue, San Juan County search and rescue and the San Juan County Sheriff's Department also were at the scene.

The following article was posted in the Arizona Daily Star website on February 25, 2004.

Award Winning Lawyer Hurt in Climb

A local attorney named Arizona Public Defender of the Year in 2003 suffered critical head injuries Friday when he fell about 60 feet while ice climbing in southwestern Colorado.

Assistant Public Defender Dean Brault suffered facial lacerations, broken ribs and wrist and leg injuries when he fell while rappelling in Cascade Canyon, near Durango, said Dave Abercrombie, spokesman for the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority.

He was flown to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, N.M., where he remains in good condition in the intensive care unit.

Brault, 33, was climbing with friends when he fell, bouncing off a shelf on the cliff before he hit the bottom. A helmet likely prevented more serious injury, Abercrombie said.

Brault was named state Public Defender of the Year last summer in recognition of his work on drunken-driving cases involving breath-test machines.

Brault also suffered a broken eye socket and a shattered ankle, Pima County Public Defender Susan Kettlewell said. He is expected to return to Tucson by the end of the week.

Fall Beanfest - 2003 (10/14/2003)

The fall 2003 Beanfest is going to be held on November 8th in the East Stronghold (it has been moved from November 1st at the request of the Forest Service). Jaime is the Beanmaster.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. As mentioned above, this year's party is in the east stronghold, but not in the actual campground itself. There are too many RVers and traditional weekenders. Instead turn right on lane 84a or 85a which is before the campground. There is plenty of camping space. There may be some food and beer provided but please bring extra food, corn chips, beer, etc. You can't have too much food and drink...

Descriptions of past Beanfests can be found at the following links:

Update on Endgame / O.K. Corral Anchors (8/21/2003)

Endgame Update: On August 12, 2003 Scott Ayers and Joe Dalmas climbed Endgame and restored Scott's Metolius bolt hangers to the climb (refer to Endgame for prior information). A photo of one of the anchors that was removed from the climb is shown below.

O.K. Corral Update: On August 16, 2003 Scott Ayers and his girlfriend Windy went climbing at the Ilse of You. Scott arrived early and began climbing on the right side of the wall. Ben Burnham showed up a little later with a couple of climbing partners. According to Scott, they had an amicable discussion regarding climbing anchors. Ben explained that he removed the anchors on O.K. Corral because he thought they looked worn and needed replacing. Scott did not think they looked very bad and thought that they had many years of life left in them. In turn, Ben offered to restore the original anchors if that was what Scott wanted. He said that he was not aware that Scott had put up the route - he thought that Mike Strassman had put up all the routes on the wall (note that the guidebook "Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" by Bob Kerry does not credit O.K. Corral to Scott - only Mike Strassman is mentioned).

Scott stressed that he would like to maintain his routes and that if anything was considered unsafe on one of his climbs, contact him and discuss it with him before making any modifications yourself.

Battleship Anchors

Mt. Lemmon is still closed because of Aspen Fire (7/17/2003)

In the aftermath of the Aspen Fire, most of Mt. Lemmon is burned to a crisp and the highway remains closed to all traffic. Access may be allowed this week for the residents of Summerhaven (or former residents) and rumors have it that the mountain will remain closed to the general public (including climbers) until September.

Mt. Lemmon closed because of Aspen Fire (6/20/2003)

I talked with the receptionist at the Coronado National Forest this morning. She said the Mt. Lemmon Highway is closed at the base and will be closed as long as the fire is still burning - most likely through the weekend. The good news is that the other areas of the Coronado National Forest (such as the Stronghold) are currently still open.

Warning: Keep in mind that last year, within about one week of when the fires started on Mt. Lemmon, all of Coronado National Forest was closed! If you want to do some climbing near Tucson in the next month, you should move fast. "Where there's smoke..." - there's closures and restrictions.

At my rope's end... (6/16/2003)

Yesterday was father's day, and I nearly made a very serious climbing mistake. Early in the afternoon, my wife and I made a quick trip up to "Green Slabs" to whip out a couple of quick pitches. Before I left home, I checked the heights of the climbs, and I figured I better take a 60 meter rope with me. Unfortunately, I grabbed a 50 meter rope - thinking it was a 60 meter one.

Once I got to "Green Slabs," I led "Yurt Monkey." After my wife lowered me to the ground, she commented that she had forgotten to put a knot in the end of the rope. I didn't think much about it but when I looked at the end of rope, I was surprised that there wasn't much rope laying on the ground - maybe 10 feet. I have a strange way of taking reality and making it fit the available facts and I thought, "Boy, this climb is taller than I thought..."

It was really hot so we moved around the corner to climb on "Missing in Action" (I hoped it was in the shade, but it wasn't). I led the climb and everything went well. However, when I was at the top, I accidently dropped the small knife that I carry on my harness. It landed near my wife and bounced down the hill from the belay. After I set up the top rope, she began to lower me down. Being lazy, I didn't want her to lower me straight down. I wanted her to lower me towards the down-hill side so I wouldn't have to scramble down the rocks to find the knife. Anyway, I was hanging out parallel to the ground, craning my neck trying to find the knife and she was likewise, craning her neck trying to tell me where it fell - all the while she was lowering me down. A regular comedy of errors... Anyway, you guessed it, the end of the rope slipped through her brake hand and I heard an "Ohhh...."

I looked over and I saw about 2 feet of rope poking out of the Gri-Gri. She had both hands clinging to the rope above the Gri-Gri and she quickly told me what happened. I shot to safe ground like a lightning bolt - forget the downclimbing to the knife. I would have fallen about ten feet on my back and the fall would have been ugly - to uneven, rocky terrain. It would have been very unpleasant, to say the least, and possibly fatal. Many horrible, slow-motion scenarios, have popped into my mind in the aftermath. Although my wife believes her quick response in grabbing the rope above the Gri-Gri saved me, I believe that the only reason the rope was still there for her to grab was that the Gri-Gri had already auto-locked.

In hindsight, the mistakes were obvious. First, make sure your rope is long enough. A 60 meter is long enough for almost all the climbs on Mt. Lemmon and I wouldn't recommend a 50 unless you are sure it is long enough (and don't confuse it with a 60). Second, no matter what the length of the rope is or what the belay device you are using, tie a knot in end of the rope. This is especially critical if you are using a belay device that doesn't auto-lock. These belay devices have no fail-safe mechanism and if the end of the rope escapes the brake hand, you'll hit the deck. Finally, I was glad my wife was belaying with the Gri-Gri. It may not be the perfect belay device, but it certainly saved me a lot of pain and suffering.

I was fortunate. Three things needed to fail for me to hit the deck - and only two of them did.

The Wild West (5/23/2003)

Yesterday, I got up at 4:15 am to go climbing with Scott Ayers in the Cochise Stronghold. I had a great time climbing with him, and the day was a great adventure. After a full day of climbing, we returned to his Suburban about 7:00 in the evening, just as the sun was setting. Little did I know that the adventure wasn't over.

We started to drive out Middle March road in darkness, ready to get back home in Tucson. As we came around a corner, we could see a vehicle sitting sideways in the road ahead. Scott slowed down, and we slowly passed a convertable Jeep CJ-5 with its top down. Two people were sitting in it, and we could hear screams as we drove by. At first I thought it was drunken teenagers playing some sort of joke or game, and Scott must have thought the same. He slowed to a stop just past the Jeep and rolled down his window to see what was happening. The screams from the Jeep were chilling. "He's going to kill me." "Help." "He's crazy..." The screams were hysterical.

Scott and I sat there in the Suburan not knowing what to do. Was this a joke? Was this for real? It certainly didn't seem real to me. The Jeep sat there not moving, constant screams coming from it . After a couple moments, the impasse was broken. A woman jumped from the Jeep and tried to escape. A man jumped out and tried to force her back into it. She broke away and came running over to the Suburban. She stood near the passenger side, my side, and continued to scream that he was trying the kill her. She kept the Suburban between her and the jeep, using it as a shield. She made no attempt to get into the Suburban, nor did she ask for help. She just stood there screaming.

It was obvious that we couldn't leave her there. I threw a pack over in the back seat to make room for her, and I told her to get in - and she did. Like it or not, Scott and I were involved.

We still weren't sure what to do, so we sat there waiting for the unknown man to make a move - which he did. The Jeep started forward... The headlights swept across the side of the Suburban, and we could hear the crunch of gravel as the Jeep approached. Time began to slow down. Looking back, you could see nothing but headlights. Did he have a gun? Would we be facing drive-by death? Eating lead? This made following Scott on 5.11 routes seem like child's play.

The jeep pulled up alongside the Suburban. The man behind the wheel appeared strangely normal and unemotional. He calmly explained that he had caught her cheating on him. We told him that we were taking her into Tombstone. He could follow us if he wanted, and they could resolve their differences in town, but she was going with us. He didn't seem to have a problem with it. He said she didn't have any papers, and she wouldn't want to go to the police - which turned out to be true. We started for Tombstone, and the Jeep started off in the other direction.

Things continued in slow motion down Middle March road. It seemed like it took forever to get to the highway. There was a constant stream of babble and hysteria from the back seat. I was tense, and I could see the tension in Scott's face. Soon, headlights appeared behind us, and she was sure it was him following us. Even though we could see it was a pickup, she was sure it was him - somehow he had changed trucks.

We finally made it into Tombstone and dropped her off where she asked us to - in the middle of downtown Tombstone. As she started to walk off, she primped herself and straightened her clothes. I was glad to see her go but felt good about getting her there safely.

The thing to keep in mind when you are down in the Stronghold is that you are not in Tucson anymore - nor are you in Kansas. This area of the country has a long history of death and violence, and it appears that very little has changed with time. The spooky part about the whole thing was how calm and collected the man appeared as he explained to Scott and I what was going on. She had cheated on him... She was Mexican and in the country illegally... No one would miss her... Just take her out in the desert and kill her... It was almost as if this was an acceptable solution to the problem. Scott and I would surely understand this... He was wrong.

Beanfest 2003 - April 12 and 13 (4/1/2003)

The spring 2003 Beanfest is planned for the weekend of April 12 and 13, 2003. It usually starts on Friday night with some type of party on a dome (although I have not heard if there are any dome party plans - Joe has sent me an e-mail saying that there is no planned dome party). Typically, a fixed rope is attached to a dome and there is a single line jug to the top. Some party-goers spend the night on top. Climbing is typically done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night.

The spring 2003 beanfest is in the west stronghold at Isle of You campground. Directions to the Isle of You can be found in "Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" by Bob Kerry.

There is plenty of camping space but it will be hot so bring plenty of water. Although beer and food are usually provided, please bring something additional to share with the other climbers. Climbing all day and camping / partying at night makes for many hungry and thirsty people so bring a lot - you can't have too much food and drink (and if you do, you can always take it home with you).

Alex Pendleton killed on "Cripple Creek"

Alex Pendleton was killed on Wednesday, February 5, while climbing "Cripple Creek". He was leading the third pitch of the climb when he fell, pulling most of his gear in the process. During his fall, he sustained fatal head injuries.

Here is the first-hand story:

2 climbers starting the 3rd pitch of Cripple Creek on the Pharaoh. The leader was out of sight of the belayer when he fell, (slipped?, broke a hold?,) landing below the 2 bolt belay. A large camming unit about 25 feet above the belay arrested the fall, as far as we can figure. The body was anchored about 30 feet below the belay when we got there today. The belayer may have had to lower the body, but if not, it would put the total fall probably 100 + feet (?). There are several other possiblities, but that's the best we could recreate at this point due to the sketchy details. The belayer was having a hard time recounting specifics to us and we didn't push too hard--he's having a pretty rough time, as you may imagine. There is a possibility that a couple of pieces with draws may have been clipped to the leader's rope, suggesting they pulled, but that is not known for sure.

The belayer, Tom Chong, was able to free himself from the belay and rappel to the victim, who was unresponsive, not breathing, and pulseless. He then built an anchor with cams just above the body to secure it to the rock so he could free the rope. I don't know if he had 1 or 2 ropes, but he was able to rappel to the top of pitch 1 then to the ground. Apparently a hiker in the area had heard his calls for help and eventually called 911. The belayer hiked out to his car and also called 911 and SARA was paged.

An interview is in process with Tom Chong and Jeff Mayhew.

The pair were on Cripple Creek and on the third pitch. Pendleton's partner was the belayer. He said when he got down to where Pendleton's body was hanging, there were two or three caribiners hanging on the rope, which leads him to suspect Pendleton hadn't put them in properly, fell, and didn't have enough backup to save him.

How his partner got off the climb:

The partner first escaped the belay, lowered himself to his friend, found him apparently dead (hoping against hope he wasn't), went back up to the ledge, secured the line, lowered himself again, secured his friend against the face, then rappelled to the bottom using a single line. He then ran back to the area where the men had parked (more than a half mile) and called 911.

Leslie's final article on Friday, February 6:

Powerless to help as pal dies

Andria Ligas killed riding her bicycle

I received the following e-mail from Charles:

Andria Carol Ligas was hit and killed on Dec 22nd while riding her bike. Andria was the Co-President of The Cliffhangers. The University of Arizona's Climbing Club. Her death represents a great loss to the Climbing Community. She was a good friend of mine and many others. I hope you can post something on your site for those who may not have heard. Pictures, stories and comments from those who knew her can be found on

A scholarship has been set up in memory of Andria and donations can be made to the Andria Ligas Memorial Scholarship Fund, PO Box 44372, Phoenix, AZ 85064, or any Compass Bank.

Although I didn't know Andria, I was very shook up to hear about her death. She sounds like a wonderful person, very intelligent, very full of life, and to have her life taken away at such an early age is a terrible tragedy.

New Guidebook: Tucson Select Sport Climbing (12/17/2002)

Tyler McMillen has written a new guidebook entitled Tucson Select Sport Climbing. It is a relatively small guidebook (64 pages) that covers several select sport climbing areas. Although some of the material is available in other guidebooks such as "Squeezing the lemmon II..." by Eric Fazio-Rhicard, there is some new material which is not available elsewhere. New areas include: The Dry, The Farmhouse, The Beach at La Milagrossa, and the Steep at the top of Mt. Lemmon. Besides describing new climbing areas, Tyler provides another perspective on the climbs in existing climbing areas. The book sells for $15 at the Summit Hut (Note: it is not listed on the Summit Hut website but I bought a copy there, so they have it).

Tyler has also published a bouldering guidebook entitled Tucson Bouldering.

Thanks for Adopt-a-Crag 2002

The following thanks was sent out by James of the Tucson Climber's Association:

Tucson Climber's Association extends sincere thanks to everyone who participated in Adopt-a-Crag 2002. A local event was held Saturday, December 7th at Windy Point on Mt. Lemmon. While attendance was down slightly from last year, participants collected hundreds of pounds of garbage, removed graffiti from nearby rocks, and swept glass from the base of some popular crags. After prize giveaways and a membership promotion, which garnered four new members for the Access Fund, everyone got in a good afternoon of climbing.

Special thanks to the Santa Catalina Ranger District for their support, and to our local sponsors at Summit Hut and Rocks and Ropes climbing gym.

Stewardship projects, such as Adopt-a-Crag, are an important part of TCA's mission. If you know of an area that needs attention, please contact us and tell us about it. TCA reminds climbers to observe Leave-No-Trace ethics at all times. Thanks to everyone who does their part every time they are at the crag! Climb On!

- James

Access Fund Web site is at:

The Tucson Climbers Association website is at:

Adopt-a-Crag 2002

Tucson Climber's Association will host an Adopt-a-Crag event on Saturday, December 7th, 2002. The event will involve litter removal and cleanup near climbing areas along the Mt Lemmon Highway, prize giveaways, and an afternoon of climbing. Please come out and support the Access Fund and invest in your local crags. Meet at Windy Point at 9:30 am. Refreshments and prizes will be provided. Bring water, a lunch and your climbing gear. For more info, please contact TCA or the Access Fund.

Access Fund Web site is at:

The Tucson Climbers Association website is at:

Tucson Climbers Association gets Access Fund Grant (10/2/2002)

Tucson Climbers Association had been awarded a grant from the Access Fund in the amount of $1,500. These funds are to be used to defray startup and initial operation costs for the organization for the coming year. In addition to publication materials and advertisement, TCA plans to use the funds to sponsor events and provide educational resources to members. This will include classes for climbers of all levels to develop skills such as basic and advanced techniques and self rescue.

Thanks to the all the Access Fund staff and members! To join the Access Fund, visit their website at

Visit the Tucson Climbers Association website at:

Coronado National Forest Closures: An Update (9/24/2002)

I received some e-mails with questions concerning the closures on Mt. Lemmon. I checked out the Coronado National Forest website, but there was no information there, so I decided to call their office to get clarification on what and where the Forest was closed.

The crux of what I was told is that Coronado National Forest is closed within the fire burn perimeter because of "tree hazard". In order to determine where the fire burn perimeter is, you need to go to the Santa Catalina Ranger district office and check out their map. The closure is essentially from the Hitchcock campground to the Summit on the right side of the road but areas around Windy Point were not closed. I asked about the fine if caught within a closed area - the person on the phone guessed that the fine was $100.

Coronado National Forest Closures (9/21/2002)

As we were coming out from climbing today, a Forest Service fellow stopped and told us about the Coronado Forest closures: Coronado National Forest is closed from Hitchcock campground to the Oracle Ridge Trail on the right side of the road (as you are heading up the mountain). The forest is closed because of "tree hazard" - the chances of getting injured from falling branches or falling trees is high. The closure is in effect even if there is no fire damage in the area or if there are no trees in the area. Technically, Hitchcock Pinnacle is in the closed area.

He mentioned that he thought it might be open soon to climbing, since he didn't think that most climbers were too worried about having a tree fall on them. I said that I thought it added to the excitement.

New climbs from Scott Ayers (9/13/2002)

I ran into Scott Ayers on Rappel rock today (9/8/2002). I had heard that there were some new routes in Munchkinland so I asked him about them. He said that he had put up seven new routes there: six that were 5.9 or under and one 5.11. He said that he had even put up a route that was in the 5.4 range - with bolts and chains. Munchkinland is an area that can provide great climbing for all levels of climbers.

I talked to him tonight (9/13/2002) and got some information on the climbs over the phone. There are six new climbs at the left end of the old area: five new ones in the range from 5.4 to 5.8 and one 5.11. There is one new 5.8 route on the left end of the new wall and he retrobolted a 5.9+R climb. I have updated the webpage for Munchkinland and highlighted the new changes in red.

Scott also said that he is running out of names related to the "Wizard of Oz". He doesn't really want to watch the "Wizard of Oz" again and note any good names. If you have some good "Wizard of Oz" names, forward them to me and I will send them on to Scott

On last Sunday, he also talked about Sheepshead in Cochise Stronghold and how he had done some work there - I was not familiar with climbs he was was talking about and I was belaying when he was telling me about it - so I didn't retain all the details. He referred to a trip report on (Gary Sax and John Peterson's trip report on "Greedy Varmit") and talked about how he had done some bolting in that area. I also asked him if he had put up the route to the left of Wasteland and he said he had - he said it was 5.8+.

Jack McBroom obliterates 14K peak record (8/22/2002)

Jack McBroom

Jack McBroom, a 45 year old school teacher from Hemet, California just obliterated the record for climbing all fifteen of California's 14,000 foot mountains. He did it in 4 days 11 hours and 19 minutes. He started on August 10th at 2:10 am for South Lake above Bishop and finished at Mt. Shasta in northern California on August 14th at 1:29 pm. He climbed Mt. Shasta in a time of 5 hours 57 minutes 37 sec.

The record was first set in 1998 by the famous speed climber Hans Florine in 9 days 10 hours 50 minutes. Last August of 2001 Josh Swartz 25 years, old did it in just under six days - 5 days 23 hours and 41 minutes. Everyone thought the record was untouchable.

Jack McBroom is also an ultra runner. He did the Bad Water to Mt. Whitney run and he did the Eco-Challenge last year in New Zealand. He thinks he might go under four days next summer.

Paul McGuffin of Green Valley, Arizona, with his 1992 Toyota 4x4, was his solo crew member.

Feature: Jack McBroom's personal account of his record ascent of all the California 14ers

Fall Beanfest 2002 - October 12 (8/11/2002)

The fall 2002 Beanfest is planned for the weekend of October 12, 2002. It will start Friday Evening, October 11 with most likely a party on one of the domes in the area. Usually a fixed rope is attached to the top of a dome in the area and there is a single line jug to the top. Some party-goers spend the night on top. Climbing is typically done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. The ceremonial beaning occurs on Saturday night and Beanfest T-shirts are available.

This fall's party is in the west stronghold at the parking area for Sheepshead. "Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" by Bob Kerry has directions to the west Stronghold:

"Take Hwy. 80 south of Benson. Just before Tombstone turn left on Middlemarch Road [first left after milepost 315] and continue 9.8 miles to a sign for the West Stronghold. Take the left and then the first right to a windmill." The gathering will be in the huge grassy field areas where this side road ends at the fence.

There should be plenty of camping space but it will be hot so bring plenty of water. Food and a keg of beer are provided but please bring something additional - tortillas, corn chips, etc.

Jeff Mayhew sent me a e-mail with additional information: I know that John is going to provide the beer, lots of homemade beans, and tortillas and people should bring fixin's of their choice (salsa, sour cream, cheese, chips, tomatoes, etc.) Any extra stoves, lanterns, guitars, oboes are always welcome. Games of skill and prizes will be included in the festivities.

Saguaro National Park is Closed Again... (7/14/2002)

After four days of being down, the signs have returned to the East Saquaro Nation Park indicating that the backcountry is closed. It is unclear if the signs were removed by the Park service or if they were removed by unauthorized personnel. The result is still the same - the East Saquaro National Park backcountry is closed.

Mt. Lemmon and the Coronado National Forest is Open (7/18/2002)

After almost two months of being closed, the entire Coronado National Forest, including Mt. Lemmon, was re-opened today. Everything on Mt. Lemmon is open except for the area burned by the Bullock fire. There are assorted roads trails and areas closed to the Bullock fire but most of the climbing areas are open. All the areas previously closed due to Falcon nesting on Mt. Lemmon and in Cochise Stronghold are also open (except for Barnham rock - it opens at the end of the month). For more information on the re-opening of the Coronado National Forest and Mt. Lemmon, check out for Coronado National Forest website at:

For more information on the closures due to the Peregrine Falcon nesting season can be found at:

Saguaro National Park is Open (7/10/2002)

After one day of showers, Saguaro National Park is open with no restrictions. Signs warning of trail closures in the backcountry have been removed as well as signs prohibiting any open flames. There is a glimmer of hope that everything will be open soon. However after talking to a receptionist at the Santa Catalina Ranger district, my hopes dimmed. She talked about 1 to 2 inches of rain being required and at least one full day of steady rain before they open the mountain. We are a long way from either of those requirements - so I hope she doesn't know what she is talking about.

More Closures (6/29/2002)

As Tucson passed the record for the most consecutive days without rain, there were more closures on public land. The Saguaro National Park has closed the backcountry in the East park. The Douglas Spring trail is closed beyond the intersection with the three tanks trail and I assume that the Tanque Verde Ridge trail is closed at some point as well. The baracades at the East Saquaro National Park say that all the backcountry is closed because of extreme fire danger and there is a maximum fine of $5000 for violators. This eliminates The North Side Domes, Helen's Dome, and Rincon Peak in the Rincons as potential though difficult climbing areas to access.

Pray for rain...

Virtually all state public land is closed (6/8/2002)

The Bullock fire is out but the implications continue to burn. In the aftermath of the fire, virtually all state public land has been closed to the general public because of the extreme fire danger. All state trust land, all BLM land, and all national forests are closed except for Mojave, Yuma, and La Paz counties (which are along the Colorado river). Fines are steep, starting at $1000 and going up, plus prison time - so be careful if you are climbing illegally. There are a few bouldering spots such as Gates Pass and the Silverbell boulders that might be open - check out Tyler McMillen's guidebook for more information: Tucson Bouldering.

At this time, Saguaro National Park is still open and bouldering or limited climbing may be possible. According to the sign at the Douglas Spring trail head, the Park is closed to smoking and open flames - except for camp stoves / grills, but is still open to the public. Bob Kerry, in his guidebook "Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" lists a few places in Saguaro National Park East: The North Side Domes, Helen's Dome, and Rincon Peak. The minimum hike here will be at least ten miles (one way from the Douglas Spring Trailhead) and there will be no water along the way. Not a pleasant alternative in 100+ degree temperatures.

Note: The above statement is in error, there is some water available:

Good drinkin' water

Coronado National Forest is closed (5/29/2002)

As the Bullock fire continues to burn on Mt. Lemmon, the Forest service has decided to close the Coronado National Forest indefinately. It is not clear when the national forest will re-open but it doesn't sound like it will be open until there is a significant amount of moisture - which won't be anytime soon. This closure will shut down virtually all climbing areas in southeast Arizona. There is a $5000 dollar fine or 6 months in prison for any individuals violating this closure.

For more information, check out the Coronado Forest website at:

Memorial day fire: Mt. Lemmon closed (5/25/2002)

The five day old Bullock fire continues to burn today. According to the local newspapers, Mt. Lemmon will be closed through the Memorial Day weekend. The highway is closed at milepost 0 and Milagrosa is where the mountainless climbers are heading. The weather forecast is predicting high temperatures in the low 90s so if you are planning to climb at Milagrosa, be prepared for the heat. (I would guess that Rocks and Ropes is also seeing increased traffic).

E-mail from Bonnie Kamps on the Hitchcock Pinnacle

In the 1985 guidebook, "A Climber's guide to Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon Highway", John Steiger gives credit for the first ascent of the standard route of the Hitchcock Pinnacle to Bob Kamps (1960). With all the bolting activity on the Hitchcock pinnacle, I was very curious about what the first ascent party (who I assumed was Bob Kamps) thought of the activity on the Hitchcock pinnacle - according to the "First Ascent" principle. "...if somebody climbs a route and does it in a certain style, that style should be respected by people that come after." - Steve Grossman.

To make a long story short, Eric Fazio Rhicard, who is a friend of Bob and Bonnie Kamps, had Bonnie and Bob Kamps send an e-mail concerning Bob's alleged first ascent of the Hitchcock pinnacle:


We thought you might want to know that the credit for the first ascent of Hitchcock Pinnacle most likely belongs to someone besides Bob Kamps. We have a fairly complete data base of all the climbs he has done. Although the early years are sketchy it is not likely he would have forgotten a visit to Mount Lemmon. In the fifties and sixties he enjoyed trips to Sedona, the Four Corners, Moab, Cochise Stronghold, Chiricahua, etc. but his earliest recorded climbing trip to the Tucson area was in 1988 after his friendship with Eric Rhicard developed. The only record we have of him climbing Hitchcock was in 1997. (Now he is wondering if he could have climbed there early on and forgotten about it. The mind, "they" say is the first to go.)

The bolting arguments never die. I have listened to them for over forty years. Too bad that anyone would add bolts to an existing route without considering that they are changing the essence of the experience. (Some of Bob's 1/4 " bolts NEED to be replaced for safety.)

Bonnie Kamps

Steve Grossman article in 2002 Black Diamond catalog (3/30/2002)

The 2002 Black Diamond catalog is out. The catalog is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the 1972 Chouinard catalog - a catalog that promoted the revolutionary concept of "clean climbing". Steve Grossman, who has an article in the 2002 Black Diamond catalog, describes the impact of that 1972 catalog in his recent interview:.

"Another thing that really affected me ethically early on was the 1972 Chouinard climbing catalog. It made a strong push for clean climbing in terms of free protection and people relying less on hammered protection. It had a lot of affect on everybody pretty much in climbing at the time in a way thatís really unparalleled. It laid out the ethics of British rock climbing. You have a small island with a fairly finite amount of rock and a lot of heavy use. They really, in contrast to what was happening in the rest of Europe, developed a low impact ethic. It allowed their routes to see heavy traffic and minimal damage. The big push was toward that same kind of ethic. Fortunately, at the same time, Chouinard equipment came out with hexes and stoppers, equipment that made all that kind of low impact climbing possible. Prior to those innovations, the kind of nuts that were available out there were just not really all that effective. The synergy of that catalog pushing that ethic and equipment that was being produced revolutionized climbing as we know it. Thinking about it now, had that not happened, and had people continued to pound pins and bust flakes off and scar and damage rock, things would be much uglier out there. Itís really pretty horrifying what would have gone on if that revolution hadnít happened."

To order a copy of the 2002 Black Diamond catalog and Steve Grossman's article, go to the Black Diamond catalog webpage at:

Note that on page 70 of the 2002 Black Diamond catalog there is a photo of Fred Beckey. See the biography of Fred Beckey that John Rupley wrote for Fred Beckey Biography.

Beanfest 2002 - April 20 (3/30/2002)

The spring 2002 Beanfest is planned for the weekend of April 20, 2002. It starts Friday, April 19 with a party on Whale Dome. A fixed rope will be attached to the back side of the dome and there is a single line jug to the top. Some party-goers spend the night on top. Climbing is typically done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night.

This year's party is in the west stronghold. "Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona" by Bob Kerry has directions to the west Stronghold:

"This area is located in the Dragoon Mountains about an hour southeast of Tucson. Take I-10 east to Benson, then go south on Hwy. 80 through St. David. Continue south and just before Tombstone turn left on Middlemarch Road [first left after milepost 315]. Follow this 'autobahn' of dirt roads 9.8 miles to a sign for the West Stronghold. Take the left and follow the dirt forad for about 30 minutes and you will see a ranch and windmill just ahead. Here make a right just before a gate and follow the road into the West Stronghold Canyon. Depending on recent weather, this road can get a little rough for a low-clearance car.

There is plenty of camping space but it will be hot so bring plenty of water. Food and a keg of beer are provided but please bring something additional - tortillas, corn chips, etc.

A slide show for entertainment is planned but no decision has been made yet on the presentation. Possible topics include a Karl Rickson Memorial Slide Show (Karl died two months ago from cancer) where slides of Karl climbing with his friends would be shown or a slide show by Dave Baker on local climbing history (Dave gave a similar slide show at the Summit Hut about two years ago and it was great). There will be games and contests and the Summit Hut has offered to contribute prizes. The ceremonial beaning occurs on Saturday night and Beanfest T-shirts are available.

New Guidebook: Tucson Bouldering (3/30/2002)

A new guidebook entitled Tucson Bouldering by Tyler McMillen has just been published. The guidebook really fills a void in the local climbing guidebook market by covering the bouldering scene. Bouldering has not been mentioned in the local guidebooks since 1985 with John Steiger's guidebook and it is nice to get a clear picture of all the bouldering in the Tucson area. The guidebook is 52 pages long and is available at the Summit Hut for $12.

Tyler runs a bouldering website at where you can can more information on the Tucson bouldering scene as well as the latest news and routes. He also has a personal website at

Death on "Punch and Judy" (3/21/2002)

I received the following e-mail from a friend:

Just got back from a body recovery call at Punch and Judy Towers. 23 year old male was scrambling around on top of the towers and fell in the gap which is the chimney of Lizard Marmalade. He fell to his death--multi-system trauma. No ropes or climbing gear. Mt. Lemmon Fire guys on scene said it was similar to the call they had several weeks ago where the guy fell and was airlifted to TMC where he later died of head injuries (see news article below). They couldn't tell me exactly where it was other than further up the road than this call. That's about as much info as I could get. So apparently neither one of these guys was a rock climber. [Post-edited at the request of the source]

Coincidentally, the Tucson Citizen reported today that a 31 year old man fell to his death Tuesday. The report said the man was hiking with another man when the two separated for about 20 minutes. It is unclear at this time if these are the same event or two separate incidents.

Rumors of a climber death on Mt. Lemmon

I received the following e-mail from a former featured climber:

I heard a climber named Dusty took a 60' fall while hiking between climbs. He was helivaced to the hospital where he was on life support for approximately 1-2 hours before the plug was pulled. Hospital said cause of death was "brain shear". All nerve endings on the surface of the brain separated. This is not an accurate report though, maybe you can investigate it further.

I have checked and called the Forest service and there are no signs that an accident has occurred. If anyone has any news on this story, send me a note at:

Approach Injury on Chimney Rock [2/23/2002]

With the road construction and blasting on the Mt. Lemmon highway, the approach to Chimney rock is certainly more perilous than it has been in the past. On Saturday, February 16, 2002 a group of climbers were getting ready to climb on Chimney rock. As they were making their approach beneath "George's Buttress", one of the climbers fell. He was about 8 feet above the road when he pulled down on a large rock (estimated at 50 to 75 lbs.). The rock pulled loose and the climber tumbled to the edge of the road along with the rock. In the process, he broke his ankle in three places and he fractured his elbow - the rock was not injured. The ankle injury required surgery to insert two screws. He has not yet returned to work and the doctor has ordered that he should not put any weight on the ankle for six weeks.

2002 Cliff Closures - for Peregrine Falcons [1/22/2002]

The latest edition of "Vertical Times" by the Access Fund had phone numbers for information regarding rock climbing restrictions in southern Arizona due to nesting Peregrine Falcons. I called the number and here is a summary of the information:

Cochise Stronghold The restriction extends from February 15 to June 30 and includes Cochise Dome, Square Top, Waterfall Dome, and Rockfellow Dome. For more information, call the Stronghold Ranger Station at 826-3593.

Mount Lemmon The restrictions extends from March 15 to June 30 and affects the Ravens, Fortress, Rappell Rock, Branching Out Crag, and Panorama Wall (some routes, but not all). For Barnum Rock, the restrictions extend from February 1 to August 1. For more information, call 749-8700 or check out the Coronado National Forest website at:

Steve Grossman in town for the holidays[12/29/2001]

Steve Grossman (left) and Bob of
Steve Grossman, who many people consider to be the greatest Mt. Lemmon rock climber, was in town for the Christmas holidays (12/20 - 12/29). His arrival prompted a surge in the activity in the local climbing community. First, Steve Grossman, Ben Morin, and Ben Burham met on Saturday evening, December 22, 2001 to discuss bolting issues. Steve and Ben Morin were concerned about Ben Burnhams bolting activities:
  1. The addition of two bolts on the Hitchcock pinnacle.
  2. The addition of mid-point anchors on multi-pitch climbs:
  3. The addition of belay anchors at the base of climbs. Ben uses them when guiding.

The meeting was amicable and Ben Burnham agreed not to add bolts to existing routes, not to add mid-point anchors to existing multi-pitch climbs, and not to add belay anchors to any climbs other than his own.

Second, Steve met with for a two hour interview. The interview was incredible with Steve covering most of Tucson rock climbing history. Steve really wanted to address the Tucson bolting ethic as he knew it. Steve's primary message on ethics is:

The interview is currently being transcribed and should be available for publication by the end of January, 2002.

Third, Steve and Ben Morin removed three bolts from the standard route on the Hitchcock Pinnacle. Steve was restoring the standard route to the state it was in when he first led the route in 1970 - on his second day out rock climbing. The one remaining bolt is the top bolt when there was a pair of bolts on the route (before July 14, 2001) or the third bolt when there were four (from July 14, 2001 to December 29, 2001). The chain anchors and the other routes were not modified. See Hitchcock Pinnacle for further discussion. [Note: The bolts on Hitchcock Pinnacle have always been a little strange: they have been placed next to cracks where gear could be used for protection. Normally, bolts are only used in areas that cannot be protected with gear. Even the one bolt that remains today is not necessary - it is next to a large crack that could easily be used for placing gear.]

[ anecdote: I went up to Windy Point late on Saturday, December 29, 2001 to check out the work of Steve and Ben Morin - I knew they were going to remove all the bolts except one and I wasn't sure which one was going to be left. It was a cold, cloudy afternoon when I climbed up to the Hitchcock Pinnacle. I analyzed the route while a group of four people climbed - they looked and sounded like they were from Europe. While I stood there watching one member of the group climb on a top-rope (biting my tongue to keep the beta stifled), a hiker showed up from behind. He went up to the climbers and asked them if they had a guidebook. A man in the group said, "No, but I have this" and he dug into his pack and pulled out a set of printouts from I thought, "Wow! This is the first time I have ever seen anyone using output from"

My enthusism soared. This was really cool. Wow, somebody actually looks at my website. However, no sooner than he pulled the output out of his pack than a women in the group cried out, "It lies! It lies! It says there are four bolts up there and there is only one!" The giant pin came out and popped my balloon. Needless to say, I rushed in and was very apologetic about what had happened. I explained that the bolts were removed in the morning and explained what I was doing up there. They took it pretty well.]

Todd Skinner talks at the Summit Hut[12/5/2001]

On Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Todd Skinner gave a presentation at the Summit Hut. He had two videos that he narrated: one on bouldering in South Africa and the main feature, climbing a 3800 foot tower in Greenland named Ulamertorsuaq. Todd went to Greenland with four Wyoming Cowboy's - Paul Piana, Mike Lilygren, Steve Bechtel, Jeff Bechtel and two photographers. The trip was featured in the first National Geographic Adventure Magazine in 1999 and took over 40 days to make the ascent. They faced many trials and tribulations including bad weather, mosquitoes, and too much spaghetti and managed to make the first ascent of the tower just before time ran out.

Todd was a very entertaining speaker with many cowboy jokes and western humor. As far as entertainment value, Todd was one of the best climbing speakers that I have heard. I thought one statement that Todd made that was in contrast of my image of him. When you boiled it down, climbing was about comaraderie - I guess if you spend over 40 days with the same six characters, the one thing you better have is comaraderie.

Todd Skinner web-info:

The "Cowboy" takes a fall [11/24]

On Monday, October 22, 2001, I heard from a fellow climber that there was a bunch of blood at the base of "Space Cowboy" - one of the most beautiful climbs on the mountain. Evidently, a climber named Shawn Bradley was soloing on "Space Cowboy" on Friday, October 19 and he fell between the second and third bolt. Shawn has sent me his version of the accident:

My name is Shawn Bradley and I was rope soloing space cowboy on the 19th of October. I was at the crux, unable to clip the bolt, when I fell. Although my ankle impacted the ledge where the blood is, the self belay system ( a clove hitch tied to my harness) prevented me from a more serious injury. After getting to the ground and gathering my gear, I struggled a short distance up the trail when another climber, by the name of Pat Royer, hauled me to the top where a Ranger was waiting to help me to an ambulance. I suffered a severe sprain and twelve stitches but thanks to the help of fellow climbers like Pat, I made it out okay.

Graphic images and the full story...

The fall 2001 Beanfest [10/17]

The fall 2001 Beanfest is on. It starts Friday, October 19, 2001 with the 2nd annual party on Rockefellow Dome. A 250' rope is fixed to the highest dome and there is a single line jug to the top. Party-goers usually spend the night on top.

Climbing is usually done all day Saturday and the party begins Saturday night. This year's party is in the east stronghold. It is not in the actual campground, there are too many RVers. Instead turn right on lane 84a or 85a which is before the campground. There is plenty of camping space. Food and a keg of beer are provided but please bring something additional - tortillas, corn chips, etc.

Paul O'Herron is going to give a slide show on his climbing in Yosemite and there will be games and contests: Summit Hut, Climbing Magazine, Rocks and Ropes have contributed T-shirts and prizes. The highlight of the evening is the ceremonial beaning. Everyone gets beaned but first-timers usually get more. Typically there are 20 to 50 people at the Beanfest. The only requirement is that you must buy a Beanfest T-shirt - this offsets the cost of the food and drink.

100 Bolts/Hangers Donated to the Tucson Safe Climbing Association [8/23] purchased 100 bolts and 100 Fixe bolt hangers for the replacement of old, unsafe bolts. Through a deal orchestrated by Ben Burnham, the bolts were donated to Tucson Safe Climbing Association . Jason Mullins of Rocks and Ropes, who oversees the Tucson Safe Climbing Association, donated the bolts to Ben Burnham to use or to hand out as he sees fit.

Bolts/Hangers available for re-bolting projects has purchased a quantity of bolts and bolt hangers for the replacement of old, unsafe bolts. Ben Burnham and Ben Morin helped in purchasing Fixe bolt hangers and bolts from Copperstate Nut and Bolt. To inquire about hardware for bolt replacement, send an e-mail to

Girls learn Rappelling

On June 14, three local climbers (Gordon Washburn, Rich Johnson, and Bob Hutchins) spent the morning teaching rappelling to a group of 14 year old girls. The girls are attending church camp at Camp Zion with the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Girls from age 12 to age 18 from all over the state stay at the camp every year and each age group has a special event, only for that age group. The special event for the 14 year olds was rappelling, and these girls were pumped-up for their special event.

Gordon laying down the rules

Gordon started the ball rolling by giving the girls a safety talk. "Girls, there are three main rules: 1. Don't step on the rope, 2. Don't drop the belay device, and 3. Don't take your brake hand off of the rope." (spoken like a true climber). He went on to do an excellent job outlining all the rules and showing the girls how to rappel. As he finished the talk, he was standing above the practice wall at Windy Point. He dramatically stepped back and weighted the rope, hanging out above the wall at about a 45 degree angle. This got a big "Oooohhh!" from the crowd.

It was a fun morning, with all the girls being very positive. As might be expected, there was quite a range of reactions to the heights: from the girls who shot right down the wall like experts to the ones who had difficulty overcoming their fears. Gordon worked with several girls that appeared to be mortified by the heights and he managed to get most of them down the wall. At the end of the morning, many of the braver girls wanted to rappel "Aussie style" - facing the deck rather than facing the wall. Everyone had fun and I can't wait to do it again next year.

More "Rap Girls" photos...

15 New Moderate Routes in Munchkinland

I was up at Munchkinland on Saturday (June 9, 2001) and it was quite an event. Scott Ayers was there, along with several local legends. Scott was pointing out his new routes in Munchkinland to virtually every climber who showed up and was drawing topos in "Squeezing the lemmon II..." guidebooks. There are 15 routes in two separate areas:

One of the two new areas, with nine climbs, is about 100 yards from the Munchkin Wall. A lot of work has been done preparing the trail and trimming the vegetation underneath the climbs, and it even appeared as if the main trail into Munchkinland had been raked in places.

We tried climbs in both areas, finishing on the wall with nine new climbs. They were really nice routes and were pure sport climbs. Before we left the area, there were 18 climbers in the area distributed across nine climbs. The only place that I have seen this type of climber concentration on Mt. Lemmon is at Ridgeline - and the climbs are only two weeks old. With the addition of the new moderate bolted routes in Munchkinland, it is going to be one of the most popular climbing places on Mt. Lemmon. I can't wait to get back there.

For directions and topos: Munchkinland

Mt. Lemmon Road Closures

The road closures continue on Mt. Lemmon and it is hard to imagine how they could mess things up any more than it is. The Mt. Lemmon Highway has bits and pieces torn up from around milepost 11 to the top of the mountain. There are convoys through two regions during the week. For information about the road closures, see . On July 20, there are two main areas for construction:

You can get out of a convoy in a construction area to go climbing during the week. If there is active construction or blasting in the area where you want to climb, I would recommend going somewhere else. According to the pamphlet that they hand out: "Do not drive into the construction areas except with the pilot car. Motorists exiting from side roads or recreation areas must wait for and join the pilot car to legally enter the highway".

Be warned that the road closures posted at may not be accurate. I carefully planned to go climbing at Windy Point according to their website. I was running a little late but figured that I could make the first convoy point in time - by 1:45 as posted on the website. I was surprised when we were stopped at Seven Cataracts at 1:36 and told that the convoy had just left. Evidently the convoy left at 1:30 from Seven Cataracts rather than 1:45 as advertised. It was going to be almost another hour before the next convoy left so we turned around and ended up having a nice afternoon climbing at the Prison Camp.

The inconvenience of the road closures can spill over onto the weekend. During mid-winter, near the "San Pedro Vista Point", there were baracades in the south lane for 1/4 of a mile - making the road into a single lane. There was a stop sign at each end and traffic was piled up at each end. One car would go from one direction, and when it was through the baracades, the next car would go from the other direction. Of course it wasn't long until the traffic got out of hand with many cars trying to squeeze through from one direction. This was countered by a car opposing the stream and forcing cars to back up. It was ugly. A very poor excuse for traffic control.

Lately, there has been single lane stuff right below Windy Point. Rather than a stop sign, there are battery operated stop lights at each end. If you hit the red light, expect a fairly long wait. The stop lights appear to work better than the stop signs but patience is still required.

Royal Robbins talks at Summit Hut

Royal Robbins gave a talk last night (Friday, April 6, 2001) at the Summit Hut. Royal Robbins is a legendary Yosemite big wall climber with the first ascent of Half Dome, the North American Wall, the Salathe Wall, and many other climbs.

The talk encompassed most of his life and was entitled "40 years of Adventure". The talk was broken into two segments: a climbing segment and a kayaking segment. The climbing segment started with his youth and covered many of the great Yosemite climbs that he did: first acsent of Half Dome, first ascent of the Salathe wall, first ascent of the North American Wall, first solo ascent of El Cap, etc. The slides were excellent with many of the slides being taken by Royal and Tom Frost.

Royal was there with the Sky Island Alliance who was selling his books Spirit of the Age and Basic Rockcraft. They were also selling a nice poster of the first ascent of Salathe Wall. Royal would autograph them if you wanted. It was a nice talk and thanks to the Summit Hut for putting it on.

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Revised: February 26, 2004