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Climbing History 

Granitica Festival 2014

6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16

Summit Hut 7745 N. Oracle Road

888-1000;summithut.com

Five thousand feet up in the Dragoon Mountains lies a beautiful woodland area guarded by a rampart of granite domes and sheer cliffs called the Cochise Stronghold near Benson. Once a refuge for the great Apache Chief Cochise and his people, this natural fortress's treacherously sleek cliffs and steep drops is now known for its long standing reputation for bold backcountry climbing with more than 1,000 existing routes.

The second Granitica Festival will explore the history and adventures behind the routes of the Stronghold—home to the proudest free climbs in Southern Arizona—with speakers who are all-star climbers responsible for inspiring the next generation of climbers in Southern Arizona and making these routes possible.

Steve Grossman, founder of North American Climbing History and Archives presents "Heart of Stone- Cochise Stronghold Climbing the in the 1969s, '70s, and '80s" with climbers sharing their first-hand experiences discussing their decisions, what they learned from the climb and appreciate about it.

These routes are big, dangerous, imposing and intimidating, said Grossman. They are done on site with minimal equipment and no plan, which adds to the boldness and challenge of traditional climbs.

Saturday will begin a celebration of the first ascent of Don's Crack in October of 1967 by Joanna Coleman, a pioneer within the Southern Arizona rock-climbing community.

She inspired people like Dave Baker, Merlin Wheeler and Mike McEwen who were in high school at the time to continue to exploration of the Stronghold and its rock formations.

"Climbing is deeply satisfying," said Grossman. "It's adventurous, you learn something about yourself."

Tickets are available for $25 through Summit Hut. Seating is limited.

More by David McGlothlin

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