As we were hiking back to the car from Sheepshead, I stopped to take a few panoramas of the setting sun casting shadows across the grass and cliffs. Early morning and late afternoon are my favorite times of day in Cochise Stronghold because the grass turns a golden brown.
Last Look back at the Cliffs, Cochise Stronghold, AZ (16″x70″)
Setting Sun and Cliffs, Cochise Stronghold, AZ (13″x60″)
After climbing a multi-pitch route in Cochise Stronghold, we hiked back to the truck at sunset. I stopped to photograph the scrub oak trees cast long shadows across the high desert grasses.
Oak Tree Shadow in Grass, Cochise Stronghold, AZ (13″x44″)
After topping out on Sheepshead, we took a few minutes to eat a snack and snap a few photographs before walking off the back of the cliff and climbing more on the northwest face. Afternoon light contrasted with shadows and outlines of scraggly trees eking out an existence on the harsh clifftop. The air was surprisingly clear. Rows of mountains disappeared over the southern Arizona horizon.
Pothole, Tree, Shadow on Sheepshead, Cochise Stronghold, southern AZ (12″x18″)
Boulder, Tree, Shadow on Sheepshead, Cochise Stronghold, southern AZ (12″x18″)
Clear skies and cool temperatures in January provided ideal conditions to climb a few multi-pitch routes at Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizona. We started the first route on the northwest-facing edge of Sheep’s Head. Rivulets of ice filled the cracks, and gusts of wind left me shivering at the belay stations. By the time we ascended a few hundred feet, the sun had risen enough that I could take off my down jacket and climb more comfortably. When we reached the top of the rock dome, we found floating sheets of ice in small pools of water.
Euphoria Top-Out, Cochise Stronghold, AZ (16″x66″)
Another angle on the monsoon storm over Tucson.
Monsoon Storm over Tucson from Windy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (14″x48″)
While climbing on one of the fins at Windy Point (along the Catalina Highway outside Tucson, AZ) in August, I watched a monsoon storm rumble across the valley below. I took a few minutes to photograph the storm clouds as they approached us. After I drove home I realized that I had also captured a lightning bolt in the panorama.
Lightning and Monsoon Clouds fromWindy Point, Coronado National Forest, AZ (26″x64″)
Routes on the north and west faces of the rock promontory above the Prison Camp area make for great spring climbing along the Catalina Highway on Mt Lemmon. I especially liked the shadows of the passing clouds on the hills in the background.
Boot Hill Cliffs and Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x39″)
Just past Milepost 9.9 and the Seven Cataracts Overlook, the road cut along the Catalina Highway (General Hitchcock Highway) forms two vertical cliffs on either side of the road. The climbing cliffs just uphill from this pullout are called The Green Slabs. There are a variety of traditional (‘trad’) routes on the south face and sport climbing on the north face. Here are a few photographs from the area.
Focus on the Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (12″x18″)
Green Slabs Cliffs and Highway, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x49″)
Two hours north of Tucson along Arizona State Route 77, a small turnoff dumps you out onto a dirt road that winds up into the hilly desert. The southern Arizona climbing community has created a series of trails and low-impact camping sites so climbers can unobtrusively set up a tent and climb in the limestone canyon known as ‘The Homestead’. The limestone cracks and overhangs in this area are a fun alternative to climbing the granite and schist of Mt Lemmon.
Homestead Canyon Cliffs, Gila County, AZ (16″x54″)
Far off the Ground at Homestead Canyon, Gila County, AZ (16″x44″)
The vertical panorama can help give a sense of scale from the base of a cliff, but the perspective inherent in this type of panorama can also distort the image. As I’ve been working on my climbing photography, I have tried a few techniques that I would normally never employ in my landscape work; here I wanted to emphasize the artificial, human aspect that we bring to a traditional (‘trad’) climbing route even if we remove all the gear when we’re finished.
On Lead up Turret Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x42″)