OverviewWestworld Dome is a complex, granite formation in the West Cochise Stronghold of the Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Its most visible feature is the impressive, 800-foot (very rough estimate) west face. This principle face is interrupted roughly midway by a transverse gully – the architecture of the Dome becomes clear when viewed from one of the surrounding formations (see photo from The Whale). The Dome is located along the same wash and directly south of Whale Dome. Several high quality routes, including the classic Warpaint climb the lower half of the west face. The Dome is composed of typical, high quality granite heavily colored by the bright green lichen in places (typical of the Stronghold formations). Two summit routes are listed in Kerry’s guidebook: on the west face there’s a 5.7 A1 line (above Warpaint) and on the east face there’s a 5.9 line. No scramble route to the top is reported in print.
Getting ThereWestworld Dome is located in the western Dragoons in an area referred to as the West Cochise Stronghold (area served as a hideout for the Apache Indians taunting the US Army). Take Interstate highway 10 to exit 303 in town of Benson, AZ. Follow Arizona highway 80 east (through town of Saint David) for approximately 21 miles (just past the border patrol checkpoint and a couple miles before town of Tombstone, AZ) to first left-leading side road after mile marker 315. Turn left onto (signed) Middlemarch Road (dirt and nicely washboarded) and follow it for 9.8 miles till you reach a signed turn off for West Stronghold. The sign informs you that the West Stronghold is 8 miles away. In fact, the Stronghold is about 10 miles from this junction at the road's end. Follow this winding dirt road (rough in places but passable to pretty much all vehicles) with multiple branch off roads to its end at about 10 miles from the junction. It's generally easy enough to stay on the main road. You will pass a ranch with a windmill at about 8 miles from junction. Multiple primitive camping areas can be found along this dirt road (as well as some nicer ones along the many branch off's) and near its end in the West Stronghold. The campsites along the road are primitive and they are free. Not sure about campsites near the road's end? Note that the drive in from Benson to the trailhead will require about an hour.
For east face, Kerry recommends following the right-hand side drainage (instead of left drainage as for west face and/or Whale Dome). See Kerry for details (have not done any east faced routes).
For west face, pick up the climbers trail at the end of the road. Hint: just before the turn around circle at end of the road (and the marked hiking trail which you do NOT take), look for a faint trail heading left from the road – it initially looks like an access trail to a campsite but soon enough you realize it’s heading for the left drainage. The trail reaches the drainage in a few minutes and stays at the bottom of the drainage for most of the way (occasionally, cairns will take you out to the right bank of the drainage to bypass some boulders or brush). You’re looking for an “Arizona cypress” – huh?? It’s a large tree with mostly dry-looking branches pointing downwards. Key however is to stay in the drainage until you see the SECOND tree matching this description (it’s past an obvious 30-foot headwall in the drainage where you have to hike up boulders on left out of the drainage temporarily). When you see the second of these trees, look for a side trail on the right (marked with cairns). Hike up this well-beaten trail for about 10-15 minutes. It’ll bring you to the start of Warpaint (under a huge red madrone tree look for bolts); Coatimundi Corner is a hundred feet uphill and right.
Red TapeThere is no red tape for parking or climbing in the Western Stronghold (not so in the Eastern one). However, note that some formations/routes are subject to seasonal closures due to nesting birds (generally starting after mid February). Dogs are allowed here. Please keep them under control and pack out their waste.
When To ClimbThe Dragoons are far enough south so that pleasant and dry climbing conditions can be had in wintertime. However rain and snow are not out of the question (first hand experience)! Summers are (no doubt) unbearably hot. Late fall and early spring would probably be the ideal times as there is less chance of precipitation than in winter.
CampingFree and primitive car camping is available along sections of the 10-mile road (as well as its many branch off roads) leading to the West Stronghold (see Getting There section above). Please pack out your waste and minimize impact! More campsites are available at the road's end in the West Stronghold but I am not certain if these are less primitive or if they require a fee. I would imagine that flash flooding is a concern in this area so please use caution! East Stronghold offers an established fee campground with latrine facilities (BLM) and much red tape (trailhead parking restrictions and fees).
Mountain ConditionsThe good folks in the Summit Hut outdoor store in Tucson might be your best bet for climbing-specific information. The store is located on E. Speedway Blvd. about 15 minutes from Interstate 10. Their phone number and website are:
For general (non-climbing) area information, try the Douglas Ranger District 520-364-3468.
Guidebooks OverviewWestworld Dome is featured in two climbing guidebooks currently in print: Rock Climbing Arizona by Stuart Green and Backcountry Rockclimbing In Southern Arizona by Bob Kerry. Both Green and Kerry provide descriptions of Warpaint (including decent topos overlayed on photos) and Coatimundi Corner (a 1-pitch 5.11a route next to start of Warpaint). Kerry also lists other routes on the formation (see Routes Overview section).
Routes OverviewWest Face:
(1) Warpaint 5-pitch 5.10c route that is mostly bolted. This is the area classic that draws the crowds. Climbing is indeed very good and very sustained. See either Kerry or Green for descriptions.
(2) The Point 4-pitch 5.10a route – bolts and gear according to Kerry.
(3) Coatimundi Corner 1-pitch 5.11a route. Just right of the start of Warpaint, a nice looking lieback corner. Mix of bolts (3 or so) and gear. See either Kerry or Green for descriptions.
(4) Buckeroo 5.7 A1 offers a line from top of Warpaint to the summit. See Kerry for description.
(5) Dreamscape Buttress 5-pitch 5.9 route (“necky by modern standards” according to Kerry) that climbs the east face of the Dome to the summit.
Web Links(1) Westworld Dome page on rockclimbing.com is here.
(2) Westworld Dome page on mountainproject.com is here.