Cochise Stronghold, December 26-30, 2007

Aaron, Peter, Haj, and I headed out to Cochise in search of fair weather and to meet up with Viv and Ed. The first day was bitterly cold, but the forecast called for rising temperatures each day, which kept our hopes up. We cragged around on the first two climbing days and then the six of us laid siege to "What's My Line?", a fun 3 pitch climb on chickenheads, on the third day. That last day may have been warmer than the previous two, but chilly winds kept us cold on the route.

Because Cochise Stronghold is so beautiful, and because the cold weather meant a small amount of climbing (for me), there are a ton of pictures from this weekend. I tried to pare them down to a reasonable number for one page, but there's still a lot. You can also check out Viv's pictures and Haj's pictures.

Day 1: Sheepshead

Our original plan had been to try and do two 7-or-so pitch routes on the Sheepshead formation, so SOMEBODY decided that we ought to get up at 6 a.m. The alarm went off, we made breakfast and lunch and packed in the dark, and then realized that it was way, way too cold to even contemplate climbing. We went back to bed. After getting up again a few hours later, and it was STILL cold, we decided to hike to the Sheepshead formation with our climbing gear in the remote hope that it might warm up enough to climb.

A cactus.

Hiking to Sheepshead.

Haj and Aaron at the base of a route. It was so cold, we hung out for at least an hour, putting harnesses on but reluctant to actually get on the rock.

Aaron and Haj.

Oops, there goes the rope...

No comment.

Somehow, we convinced Peter to have a go at climbing.

I tried to capture a picture of the fact that we could see our breath.

Peter stepping gingerly up the slab with Aaron and Haj "spotting."

Peter running it out all the way to the third bolt! Wow!!

Me, aka "The Claw," trying to stay warm. My helmet is on for extra warmth, not head protection. I didn't even climb one pitch that day, it was so damn cold.

Aaron eventually started climbing, too. Here he is on the first pitch of "Absinthe of Mallet."

Peter on the second pitch.


Peter, Viv, and Haj hiking out of the Sheepshead.

The hike back.

Amy on the hike out. Photo: Aaron.

Nice sunset light on the crags.


Aaron took this silhouette picture of Amy, Viv, and Haj and an ocotillo.

Photo: Aaron.

Reddish grasses in the sunset light.

Day 2: Isle of You

Aaron watching Ed on a climb at Glad Rock. We went to the Isle of You because it still felt too cold to try a long route.

Amy on the same. Photos: Peter.

Aaron on a climb at Trad Rock.

Shadow of some trees.

Viv hiking out.


Day 3: What's My Line?

Aaron, Haj, and Peter.

The approach to the dome with "What's My Line?" takes you down into a streambed, where pools of frozen water displayed interesting patterns.

Peter reveals that he can walk on water.

More ice patterns.

The approach to "What's My Line?" is fun. We didn't bring much info about it---the Kerry guidebook basically says, 3rd class scrambling to the first pitch. It turns out to be quite interesting scrambling. Here, Haj and Aaron stuff themselves into a wide crack. We decided this couldn't possibly be the way, came down a bit, then decided that it was the way, except Haj found a nifty tunnel/chimney that avoided the wide crack...

Aaron in the tunnel.

Amy and Ed chimneying up. Photo: Aaron.

And then it gets interesting. Viv and Ed exiting ANOTHER tunneling/chimneying section.

Peter at the anchors at the start of the first pitch. Half the route is over by the time you've gotten to these anchors!

Aaron starting to climb on the chickenheads after the pendulum.

Ed on his way up Pitch 1. Photo: Aaron.

Amy in a sea of chickenheads on Pitch 2. Photo: Aaron.


Aaron on rappel for the descent. The last pitch of "What's My Line?" offers some options, and Haj/Peter before us had opted the straight-up option, which is 5.7R on a slab with one bolt. Aaron placed two small cams in a seam right off the anchor, then never saw the bolt.

Looking back up at the mottled face of Cochise Dome and "What's My Line?".

We hung out at the base of the dome for a while, eating lunch and deciding if there was time to do anything on Rockfellow Dome with the rest of the daylight. Everyone attempted a running-start, hands-free ascent of this boulder. Here's Aaron.



"Pull my finger"

Haj bouldering.

Aaron, Peter, and Ed went on to do the first pitch of "Endgame" on Rockfellow Dome in the waning daylight. Viv, Haj, and I took it easy and took some pictures.

Rockfellow Dome.

Viv and Haj.

Some bright, late light on the crags after hiking out.

Everybody around the campfire.