One could speculate the FAers meant “Crack”” versus “Crag”
when naming this route. This is one of the few if not only, pure trad multi-pitch crack climbs in the Cochise Stronghold
. There are zero bolts
located on the route as of 2012 which is quite the blessing if you have witnessed local bolting ethics. Cragaholic’s Dream is located on the southwestern face on a formation aptly named Squaretop
deep in canyon on the west side
of Cochise Stronghold. Dave DesChamps, Joe Astier, and Bob Kerry established the route.
Cragaholic’s is infamous for its second pitch off-width and subsequent roof
. The roof offers multiple climbing techniques to pull it, none of which lack challenge for the moderate climber. Lay backing is a common theme in Cochise, and no doubt the easiest way to tackle the roof problem. Being a crack climber by preference, I used mostly off-width technique and fully exhausted every trick I knew to pull the wide crack roof. This second pitch offers solid climbing to the top. After the roof, several corners offer good crack climbing. There are two ledges that traverse the route leftward. The final crack is done in two pitches and many find the first pitch of this crack awkward, but if you are used to crack climbing, it is much more straight forward than the second pitch. The ground eases up considerably for the final pitch. There is a summit block on top of Squaretop, but I had no beta on whether a pitch of climbing had been established on it. The descent down a gully to the right of the climb creates obvious problems at a large chock stone, but the potential climb up to retrieve the rope and subsequent down climb involve only mid-5th climbing.
From Middlemarch road, pass the turnoff for Sheepshead on your right. Continue down this dirt road passing quite a few campsites. Eventually you drive between several homesteads. A ranch on the left has a significant fence. Continue on this road until it dead ends into a backcountry campsite. Walk up to a trailhead and turn left up wash, do not hike the trail at the sign. Follow this wash east passing several large boulders. At about half a mile, you are forced to bypass very large boulders directly in the wash. Do so on the left side and stay with the wash that heads north from there. You can see Squaretop on most of this approach. Continue up this smaller wash for approximately a mile or more bypassing a few obstacles along the way. Squaretop is almost always in view. Be patient and wait until you are directly below the obvious corner/roof (photo) of the second pitch. Then scramble up slick rock on your right and follow this drainage to the base of the route.
Route Description600’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 20m- 5.9/
A mundane quick pitch to set up a belay below the corner/roof. You can go left or right following cracks to a ledge.
2nd Pitch- 55m- 5.10+/
You can make this pitch as long as you want
, I ran it a full 200’ but don’t advise same. Stop at the top of the roof or at the top of the corner after the roof.
It will be a hanging belay regardless and rope drag will be a factor once you turn the roof
. I placed all my large gear and used exclusive off-width technique
up the vertical crack. It would be easier, for a 2nd at least, to layback this section. Once under the roof, either layback up to the right end or climb the off-width with an assisted smaller hand crack upside down to reach the hand crack that allows you to pull out of it. You can place tons of gear in this section. It is no doubt also possible to slab climb out right, but unprotected. Once you pull the roof, continue up a slanting right facing corner to its top. I advise belaying here or if you are not adverse to rope drag, you can pull out onto the face out left and into the next right facing corner to set up a gear belay for a full 200' pitch.
3rd Pitch- 15m- 5.10-/
Finish up this crack to a ledge. The crack comes and goes making for a few challenging moves.
4th Pitch- 20m- 5.8/
Easy climbing up a wide crack gets you to a much larger ledge yet.
Move the belay to the left edge of the ledge below an obvious crack above.
5th Pitch- 55m- 5.9/
This is the best pure crack pitch I have climbed in Cochise to date. Move to the left and come back right across an easy slab to the finger crack. Delicately place small gear to avoid stealing finger locks and walk the crack up.
Eventually solid hand jams come into play and then the crack opens wide, but via easy ground. If you extend this pitch to near the end of your ropes, you will find a comfortable medium to small gear belay on a sloping ledge.
6th Pitch- 30m- 5.6/
Follow the large crack to the flat summit.
Walk down the slick rock southwest about 100’ and scramble down into the large gully full of trees. Walk out to the western edge and locate a slung rap. A single rope rappel gets you down to a fixed rap. A double rope rap takes you over a huge chock stone. This chock stone has a solid chance of catching your ropes on rappel.
It was slung in 2012 in case you wanted to stop here and make an intermediary rap. But if you have to climb back up and get it unstuck, it is 5th class up the chimney. Another double rope fixed rap below and left of the boulder gets you to the ground.
Essential GearDouble 60m ropes
. Single rack of micros to C4 #6, double C4 #.3 to #4’s. I placed almost the whole rack on the second pitch which you can extend to the end of your ropes if you have the gear and extend the placements. I used the #6 and #5 plenty thus they were worth hauling
. There are a lot of pods and small cracks in Cochise, thus I advise you double up on the smaller sizes with TCU’s vs C4’s. I placed no wires. The route is southwest facing. In November, if you start first thing in the morning, you will have shade the whole way. A dozen slings will help extend that 2nd pitch.
Cornonado National Forest
Wells Fargo RV Park Cochise is best enjoyed by camping along the dirt road anywhere from Sheepshead on to the north. However, if you want to do a night in Tombstone or day trip it every day, this is the best of the three available with clean showers and walking distance to downtown.
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon Best place for beers in Tombstone. Drop in for karaoke on Thursdays to meet the locals.