Cochise Stronghold Rock Climbing Guides • Cochise Stronghold Rock Climbing Instruction • Cochise Stronghold Climbing Campouts

Cochise Stronghold is a spectacular landscape of rugged canyons and towering granite domes making it an ideal area for rock climbers. There is something for every climber in this vast area, from beginners to those seeking traditional, multi-pitch climbing will have a special appreciation for climbing in the Dragoon Mountains. Still, Cochise offers more sport climbing than its reputation, or any current guide, suggests. Two of the most popular spots, Sweet Rock and Zappa Dome. There is also a great deal of multi-pitch "sport" climbing although virtually all of these climbs require an occasional gear placement or chickenhead tie-off.

Climbing in Cochise Stronghold is a true backcountry experience. The remote setting, coupled with the committing nature of many of the climbs here, require preparation beyond that of roadside cragging on Mt Lemmon. The terrain is rugged and maze-like, and it is generally easier to get lost than to get where you are going.  Today, there are also a large number of very well protected routes.  Routes range from one to seven pitches in length, and range from 5.6 to 5.12 in difficulty.  Most approaches are 30-60 minutes in length, although there are a number of known areas that are easily accessable from the roads.

The amount of rock in Cochise Stronghold is large, and some of the rock is of outstanding quality. Many super classic routes, put up by pioneering climbers since the 1970's, ascend the various spires and domes in the area. Many of the quality crack climbs in Southern Arizona are found here, as are some of the longest routes in this part of the state.

This area is of great cultural significance to some people. Treat it with due respect. User impact has increased at the Stronghold in recent years, particularly human waste. Please pack everything out!

Cochise is climbable year round. However, only the most heat-tolerant individuals climb there in the summer, and early. Spring and fall are the best times, but winter offers good climbing weather on most days as well, particularly in sunny exposures.
Rock climbing’s special combination of mental and physical challenges make it a unique experience. Once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked.

The intrinsic rewards that come from learning to climb outdoors is combining concentration, agility, balance, strength and judgement are unequalled in any other sport. Nothing heightens the senses more than the combination of delight and relief that comes from reaching the top of a demanding rock climbing route. Whatever standard you rock climb at, from novice to expert, these feelings remain the same. The key lies in seeking out new and exciting challenges.

For Beginner Climbers our curriculum begins with our specialized "ground school", in which we focus on the basics.

The remainder of the day you are on top-rope protected climbs of up to 150 feet on high angled rock faces. Superior and personalized climbing instruction makes for a quality learning experience. Note: With smaller size classes (less than 4 students), the first day is dedicted to basic rock climbing skills the second day is focused on yoga techniques/exercises and rappelling.

We'll also cover rappelling and the basic top rope anchoring system concepts - including artificial and natural anchor placements. As you continue to refine the basics, you'll encounter new and varied climbing opportunities and be exposed to more challenging rock.


The most popular of all our courses! The Intermediate Rock Climbing Course and instruction is more "hands-on" than the Beginner Course and is for those who want to take a more active and more comprehensive role in rock climbing.

The Intermediate Rock Climbing Course is an intensive, challenging, fun and rewarding experience as much as it is about advancing your climbing skills. 

Our instructors teach the necessary knowledge needed to be a contributing member in a climbing team. After completion of the course, climbers will be able to join lead climbers and to 'second' rock climbs.

We will be getting into and practicing some of the most important intermediate/advanced moves in rock climbing. If you master these techniques, then it becomes simply a matter of strength, creativity, determination and stamina that will get you up the rock!

This course is suited for those who have basic climbing, knots, belaying and anchors experience and want to expand their overall climbing and technical skills and eventually move on to lead climbing.


Learning to sport lead is one of the biggest and most important steps that rock climbers have to make. Lead climbing requires more commitment, more skills and involves greater risk, but the rewards are worth it - independence, self-confidence and an amazing sense of achievement make this one of the most important courses you can take.

This course will help make the transition to becoming a lead climber easier and give you the confidence and skills to start leading your own rock climbs in safety.
A lot of your early lead climbs will be done with the instructor moving on a fixed line alongside you and helping out as required. The additional confidence gained from leading your first rock climbs with a climbing instructor close by makes the experience exciting and fun rather than nerve racking.

The course content can vary enormously depending on your experience and what you want to learn. On the course itself we will normally spend a lot of time looking at the practical side of lead climbing: placing bomb proof gear, constructing safe belays and managing rope systems. However we also try to cover the tactical and psychological aspects of leading - so we look at planning the route, choosing the rack, reducing rope drag, resting and relaxing so that you can move fluidly with conviction.

All the climbing instruction is based on progressive teaching and we normally try to spend both days climbing on single or multi-pitch crags. The instruction ideally runs on a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio and the days will be carefully tailored to suit both your abilities and aspirations. There will never be any pressure to lead routes out of your comfort zone.

The first day leading is done while top-roped, so you can concentrate on learning the techniques. The second day is spent leading on a variety of climbs (5.5 to 5.10) depending on your abilities. If you're serious about climbing, this is the course for you.

Note: For the experienced top rope climber only.

Traditional Climbing or "Trad" is the classic way to ascend crags, big walls and peaks by placing and removing natural protection. Our Traditional Rock Climbing Course takes climbers where sport climbs can't. A genuine challenge for most, Trad not only challenges a combination of raw strength and technical skills up cracks, chimneys, laybacks and slab, but is also an exercise of the wits in the realm of placing technical protection, fixing anchors, and returning safely to ground.

Important features of trad climbing are a strong focus on exploration, and a strict dedication to leaving nature unblemished by avoiding use of older means of protection such as pitons, which damage the rock. This evolution in climbing ethics has been attributed to the efforts of Yvon Chouinard and many others, who pioneered the "leave no trace" ethic in climbing.
All participants are required to have done our Intermediate and Sport Climbing courses or have equivalent knowledge and skill.
All climbing gear is provided by ACAS.

A number of knots are required for traditional climbing, to create anchors, to tie in the climbers and even to be used during the climb.
• Figure of 8 is commonly used to tie in the climbers at both ends
• Clove hitch is used when building an anchor using the rope and sometimes to make a climber safe quickly at a belay ledge
• Alpine butterfly can be used to tie a climber into the middle of a rope
• Munter hitch is commonly used to belay without a belay device
• Slip knot or running knot, can be used during a climb to sling a protrusion of rock known as a chickenhead or any trees that may be on the route
• Lark's foot or girth hitch, is used to attach slings to trees or spikes and also to a climbers harness
Students will learn about and practice:ill learn about and practice:
• crag safety
• knots to know
• placement of gear
• assessment and construction of anchors• belay techniques and rope management
• lead climbing strategies and mock leads
• cleaning routes and anchors
• do moderate trad lead
• lead rappelling techniques

Trad Climbing is the classic way to climb!


Climbing and canyoneering are dangerous. Accidents happen. We hear about them all of the time, yet too few of us have the skills to save our partners let alone ourselves. Pretty scary.

This course will help prepare you to handle such emergencies. It is taught from a climber's perspective - offering practical solutions to real situations, involving the kind of gear you probably already carry. While we hope that you will never have to use these skills, we are certain that the knowledge gained will make you a safer climber (and better climbing partner). Happily, many of these skills are transferable to aid climbing, canyoneering and mountaineering. We offer this instruction in a very thorough two-day course or for the occasional climber a one-day condensed course (covering the fundamentals).

• Belay Escapes: We will focus on the "foundation" skills of vertical self rescue. We will start with friction knots and then put them to use as we learn how to escape a belay and ascend / descend fixed ropes.

• Rappel Rescue: In this course, we will learn how to swoop down on an injured climber, attach them to our system and lower them to the ground. We'll also learn how to execute counterweight and two person rappel rescues.

• Hauling Techniques:  An in depth exploration of hauling systems including 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, and 6:1's.  We'll go from a belay escape to a hauling system and back again.
Perhaps the most serious rescue is that of an injured leader who is more than half a rope length from the belay.

This is an advanced level 2-day course intended for those who are leading outdoors. Self-rescue requires the very highest level of technical skills. Climbers taking this course should have a good understanding of belaying, rappelling, and placement of traditional gear anchors.

Difficulty & Prerequisites:
The participant must be a competent belayer and have basic climbing skills as a minimum requirement.

If you have the opportunity please prepare yourself by knowing how to tie a figure eight follow through, figure on a bight, clove hitch, prussic hitch, munter hitch and a blocking knot to tie off munter hitches. We will review all of these knots during the course.

• Prior climbing experience is necessary.
• Our Intermediate and/or Rappelling and Anchors course or equivalent.
• Beginner I & II Rock Climbing Course or equivalent.
• You'll get the most from this class if you have good protection placement and anchor building skills.
• You should have a solid understanding of basic knots, anchoring, belaying, and rappelling.


Start climbing bigger rocks!
There are few feelings that move your soul as standing on top of a 500 foot rock face! Your lips are chapped, your body is bruised and battered but none of that matters. Your excitment and adrenaline have washed all cares away. You have just completed a challenge that few can even dream. You have a view of your surroundings that can be gained by only one method, it must be climbed!

This course is for the intermediate to advanced climber who enjoys getting high the natural way, but needs more training in negotiating the specific risks of multi-pitch climbing. You will learn techniques such as route finding, belay station and rope management, self rescue and descent strategies, all while climbing in a beautiful and secluded area.

The Multi-Pitch Climbing Course gives you the ability to go beyond single-pitch climbs and closer to seemingly distant summits or tall rock faces. The course is designed for climbers who want to expand their mental, physical and spiritual experience with rock climbing. The added level of commitment requires sessions to be held over four full days.


If you need positive reinforcement with your reservations about heights, and everything that comes with it - we can help! Want to climb a variety of routes but don't have much time and aren't familiar with the Southwest? Maybe you feel a class might hold you back, or you want the most personalized hands on, one-on-one instruction, or you and your climbing partner want to improve your leading skills. What can you do? Hire one of our professional guides to accelerate your learning process and increase your confidence on the rock.

Our instructors have AMGA or PCGI, LNT and WFR certification with years of climbing experience so you will receive professional instruction by qualified guides who make learning interesting and fun.

Our guiding takes place in some of the most beautiful climbing areas in the Southwest. Our seasoned guides are familiar with many classic routes and some the guide books don't show.

Private guiding is held at a variety of locations (Fall, Winter, Spring) in Scottsdale, Queen Creek, Joshua Tree National Park, Prescott, Cochise Stronghold, Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Mt. Lemmon near Tucson.

Private guiding and instruction is designed to provide personalized and comprehensive instruction at a level you are comfortable with, allowing you to develop a solid foundation upon which to build more advanced climbing knowledge and skills. With our specialized private courses you can expect to maximize your learning, safety, success and enjoyment as well as minimize impact on the desert environment.

In terms of length of climbing relative to approach time, Arizona offers some of the best value you can get nationwide. Some climbs in Arizona are very popular - others see less than one ascent a year. Our programs largely manage to avoid the crowds by avoiding high "traffic" climbing areas.


We have an optional overnight campout package availabe which includes tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages.

Camping out at Cochise Stronghold you will be able to imagine the true darkness that only the pure, deep desert can provide. The star-filled skies above hold almost no glow from nearby cities, allowing amazing star and moon gazing. The stillness is broken only by the songs of the coyotes. 

So come join us for a truley remarkable experience!


..Cochise Stronghold Beginner Rock (2-days) $375 per person
(w/o meals or campout)
..Cochise Stronghold Beginner Rock Camp (2-days) $455 per person (with camping gear/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Intermediate Rock (2-days) $425 per person (w/o meals or campout)
..Cochise Stronghold Imtermediate Rock Camp (3-days) $555 per person (with campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Multi-Pitch Rock (2-days) $475 per person (w/o campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Trad or Sport Lead (2-days) $475 per person (w/o campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Trad or Sport Lead Camp (2-days) $555 per person (with campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Self-Rescue (2-days) $375 per person (w/o campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Self-Rescue Camp (2-days) $455 per person (with campout/meals)
..Cochise Stronghold Multi-Pitch Rock Camp (3-days) $555 per person (with campout/meals)
...*Note: All Cochise camps are for groups of 2 or more (see schedule below)- w/o = without
..Call or email us to schedule your group (open dates/schedule). Prices above are for groups of two or more.

Single person climbing course add $75 • Single person private guiding add $100 per day

..See Schedule Below

..Class Size
..Minimum 2 - Maximum 6 per Instructor

..Discounts .
REI Members $10 Off
.Bring-A-Friend $15 Off

..Ages .
18 and Up

..Equipment .
Included - rental rock shoes, harness, camping equipment*, meals*, etc.) .
..*all inclusive includes all rental climbing and camping equipment and meals

..Location .
Cochise Stronghold, Coronado National Forest

..Times .
6:00 am - Summer / 8:30 am - Fall /Winter/Spring

..Written Test
Little or no rock climbing experience

..Course Info
..Pre-Course Info will be emailed to participant upon course sign-up

Our instructors are all active climbers, kayakers and backpackers.
Our staff are among the best in the Southwest.
They become full instructors after one year of rigorous training, testing and field work during which they learn ACAS's safety procedures, curriculum, process, technical standards, interpersonal/educational methods, and low impact backcountry techniques.

Our select staff are former instructors or graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Arizona Mountain Group Association, American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and/or Outward Bound School! Their years of climbing and teaching have made them unequalled in safety and experience. Climbing and wilderness adventures are more than our business, it's our way of life!

To sign up for a course call or email us to check availability. If a course is open click on the On-line Application Form or go to our application and map (meeting point) site, print out both the Application (PDF), Map and Waiver. Fill out the application and fax or mail it to us (don't fax the waiver, just bring it the day of your course).

Note: *Summer courses start at 6:00 a.m. - October thru April Intermediate courses start at 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 depending upon weather at the designated pick-up point. Call us the day before your course starts to verify start time. Bring your own snacks, lunch, water, sunblock and wear appropriate clothing. Camera (disposable), writing pad and pen are recommended.
*Summer courses - May 1 thru September 30.

due to weather or illness can be recheduled within 12 months of original starting or a refund (minus 20%) will be refun
Although we spare no effort to assure a safe program, we can assume no responsibility for your safety or loss of personal equipment. In a sport of this nature an element of risk is inherent and beyond human control. A signed release (waiver) will be required of all participants. A parent or guardian release is required for students under the age of 18. These can be obtained in advance by contacting our office or downloading from our website.