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Dragoon Mountains
DragoonMountains.JPG
Dragoon Mountains viewed from the south.
Highest point
Peak Mount Glenn
Elevation 7,520 ft (2,290 m)
Dimensions
Length 43 mi (69 km) north to south
Width 35 mi (56 km) east to west Extent includes low land hills and valleys
Area 921 sq mi (2,390 km2)
Geography
Country United States
State Arizona
Region Madrean Sky Islands
District Cochise County
Borders on Little Dragoon Mountains-NW
Sulphur Springs Valley-NE
San Pedro Valley (Arizona)-W & SW

The Dragoon Mountains are a range of mountains located in Cochise County, Arizona. The range is about 25 mi (40 km) long, running on an axis extending south-south east through Willcox. The name originates from the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Dragoons who battled the Chiricahua, including Cochise, during the Apache Wars. The Dragoons established posts around 1856 after the Gadsden Purchase made it a U.S. territory.

Geography

The range is south of Interstate 10, between the Whetstone Mountains to the west, and Chiricahua Mountains to the east. Higher elevations of the major ranges in the region are in the Madrean Sky Islands ecoregion, with sky island habitats.

Mount Glenn (7,520 ft/2,292 m) is the highest point in the range. The Little Dragoon Mountains are the continuation of the Dragoon Mountains north of Texas Canyon.

The mountains were included in the short-lived Dragoon National Forest, which was established in 1907 and combined into Coronado National Forest in 1908. The area is now included in the Douglas Ranger District.

History

The warrior Cochise and his army defeated a small force of Union soldiers here at the First Battle of Dragoon Springs but was defeated at the Second Battle of Dragoon Springs a few days later. Cochise Stronghold Memorial Park lies near Mount Glenn on the eastern slope of the range and the historic town of Tombstone can be found at the southwestern portion of the range. There are also several ghost towns in the Dragoon Mountains including Gleeson and Courtland.

Climbing History

The earliest known roped, technical climbing in Cochise Stronghold took place in 1966, involving John Rupley and Fred Becky making a first ascent of a route on Vortex Dome. In 1967 a set of climbers including Joanna McComb, Merle Wheeler, Don Morris and Dan Jones made several attempts to top out Rockfellow Dome, the highest of the summits in this tight group. Although they did not succeed in reaching that particular summit they established high quality routes while maintaining a bold and clean climbing ethic. In 1972 Dave Baker (founder of Summit Hut in Tucson), Mark Axon and Mike McEwenbegan climbing in Cochise. Eventually others including Gary Axen, Kem Johnson, Jake Bender, Scott Williams, Gary Hervert and Marti Woerner joined this group. This group eventually completed ascents of Rockfellow Dome, End Pinnacle and Cochise Dome. They touched off what is known as the Golden Age of first ascents in Cochise. Later notable climbers who were responsible for establishing routes in the area included Steve Grossman (a pioneer and leader in clean climbing ethics), John Steiger and Paul Davidson. In 1979 this trio succeeded in climbing a route (in good style) that they named “As the Wind Cries” to the top of Chey Deas Tsay, the only dome remaining in Cochise Stronghold that had not yet been ascended.

Additional Reading

ToofastTopos 2, Cochise Stronghold Rock Climbing. Author: Geir Hundal, (2018).

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