Please do not cross private land to reach main crag. MORE INFO >>>
From John Sherman 4/27/07: At present encouraging people to cross the landowner's property without permission reflects poorly on climbers in general. More importantly, it threatens negotiations to acquire privately owned parcels that include some of the best bouldering at Tamo as well as the tallest cliffs at Tamo, the bulk of the high end sportclimbing and a number of fine trad prospects as well. Climbers who wish to approach Tamo legally can hike in from the Kearny OHV trail system to the west - a high clearance 4x4 will shorten the hike.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.
Tam O'Shanter is the name given to an assortment of crags located along a ridge of the Dripping Spring Mountains just east of Kearny, AZ. Although climbers visited the area many years ago, it came to prominence in the last couple of years once Resolution Copper Company (RCC) started a drive to mine a large deposit of copper ore located under the Oak Flat Campground area (Queen Creek). They recruited well-known Colorado climber, John Sherman, to help them locate and develop a "new" climbing area in an attempt to quiet down climber protest that occurred when RCC first announced their plans to close Oak Flat for mining. Tamo was the result of Sherman's search.
Most of the developed climbing at Tamo, so far, resides on various quartzite cliffs scattered in the area surrounding the slopes below 4633 foot Tam O'Shanter Peak. The various cliffs of the area range from about 30 feet to over 100 feet with the bulk of the climbable rock in the shorter range. The rock seems to be fairly heavy in quartz content, but does seem to retain some pretty good friction. A quick glance at the rock would give you the impression of limestone and a lot of holds are pockets and slots, sort of uncharacteristic for granitic climbing.
The routes developed at Tamo at this time seem to be topropes (quite a few of the easier routes), some gear routes, and lots of bolted lines. Scrambling around atop the cliffs to attempt to set up topropes might be somewhat of a bad idea until some serious cleaning goes on. There is a plethora of shattered rock in this area, so exercise care!!!
There are some pretty large limestone cliffs ringing the square summit cap of Tam O'Shanter Peak itself, but the quality of this rock is unknown.
Be aware that these are the only directions that do not include crossing private land (as of May '07). Please respect the landowners by not trespassing.
All mileages are taken from the intersection of 'Hwy 177 and Hammond Dr.' in south Kearny, AZ. High clearance 4x4 is recommended for the last couple miles.
0.0 From the intersection of 'Hwy 177 and Hammond' at the south end of Kearny (next to the big water tanks), go East on Hammond to enter the Kearny OHV trail system. Continue along the dirt road passing on the south side of the water towers. 0.4 Fork right on trail #1. 2.1 Road forks - stay right on trail #1. 2.7 Fork right on trail #6. 3.4 T-intersection – stay right (go straight) on trail #6. 3.5 Stay left on trail #6. 5.2 Park at the intersection atop ridge. Hike East along the ridge and follow line of least resistance to Tamo crags – approximately 4 miles to the Main Crag (looks less on maps but there is a lot of zigzagging around ravines, cactus beds, dead aliens, etc).
As far as can be determined, the information given above is accurate regarding the legality of driving in to the Tamo area. The road is open and drivable (4WD!!!). There are sections of private land up on the ridgeline where the crags are located, so climbers should try to become educated about the public vs. private land boundaries and act accordingly!!! It is assumed that cliffs that have seen route development at this time are of the public variety!!! If you can get a copy of the Tamo guide published online by John Sherman (and pulled from the website shortly after the trip report cited above was published), the public/private ownership of the various crags is detailed there.
Masterbiner is the premiere route of Tam O', one that would merit high regard at any crag. It climbs up a faint red streak that paints the center of the wall. Gently overhanging the entire length, Masterbiner is accentuated by its finger-friendly holds and high quality stone. If the setting and appearance of the route don't awe you, the pump will! ...[more]Browse More Classics in AZ
Most people don't realize that the access to the Homestead is across State Trust Land and across several private parcels. The parking is also on a private piece of land. Several Homestead crags are on private land also. With continued publicizing of the crag and its great climbing there will no doubt be issues. Probably sooner than we think. (Cinco de Homestead, etc., . . . ) See my notes on that site's comments.
As for Tam O'Shanter, you should head out there to check it out for yourselves whether you go in by the "official" access described above or some other way across non-posted private property (similar to accessing the Homestead areas). Best to judge for yourselves and let your legislators, congressmen/women, and state officials (State Parks Board) hear your opinion. (Positive, negative, whatever, just get heard)
Info on the crag was really only posted on MP after the mining company consultants had their climbtamo.com web site up for almost 2 years and there had been little other detailed public info coming out about the place and some went in independently and posted up.
Currently, as of May 17th, the State Parks Board is not expending any significant energies on the climbing park as they are concerned that their investment may be futile given the intertwined land swap difficulties of the last few years. They have little money to do very much right now anyway.
The rock is Quartzite, a metamorphosed sandstone. The space between the sand grains is filled with silica cement and when the rock is broken it will break through the sand grains or pebbles unlike sandstone which breaks around the grains and pebbles. It is much harder than granite. It is almost horizontally layered and features occasional horizontal cracks and pockets. Famous quartzite areas are the Gunks, Ny. and Arapiles, Australia. Other North American areas are Seneca, Wv., Moores Wall, Nc., Big Cottonwood Canyon, Ut., the Uintas, Ut., Devils Lake, Wi., Lake Louise, Alberta, Stone Hill, Mt., and Ibex, Ut. It takes gear well, but requires some tricky placements. It can range from sharp to mirror smooth.
It usually offers trad, mixed, sport and bouldering at the same crag. It has a wide variety of features, cracks, pockets, heucos, horizontals, baby bums (Arapiles) and endless other variations. It often climbs steeply and tends to be very sequential. Seems to me the sequential nature is due to the slippery feel of the rock and difficulty of smearing my feet and my tendency to use THE foothold, not just a smear.
As far as Tamo is concerned, I like quartzite so I wanted to climb there and when in the area, I asked around and was given the opportunity. The road is horrible. Definitely a jeep road, quite rough and better for a short wheelbase vehicle. Legally it crosses private land, most likely owned by a copper company (very common for the copper belt in Arizona). I only got to go out there for a few days, so I have not seen much of the place or done many routes. There are saguaro cactus next to the cliff which, to me, means the weather is generally quite warm. This is good for winter. The cliffs face many directions and often have gullies and corridors, so sun or shade can easily be found.
The routes I did had excellent rock. The first was a 5.8 gear route that didn't look that great, but once on it, climbed wonderfully. It overhung 10+ feet in 80. The next was a 5.8 sport route that looked incredible. It was smooth, had limited features and took an improbable line. Definitely one of the best 5.8 sport routes I've ever done. From the ground I thought it looked 5.11. Next was a 5.10+ that was past vertical. Beautiful rock, hard to read, limited features, classic. This was the only place I've ever seen the baby's butt features besides Arapiles. All the routes I did in the few days had great rock. Obviously not all the rock I saw looked great, but much of it did. I was told that many of the areas have different characteristics and climb differently. The cliffs seem to be between 30-100 feet. I found it to be great cragging. The rock in places reminds me of Arapiles (the greatest crag on earth).
Politically, the area has issues. This was found as a replacement crag for Queen Creek. I think it easily surpasses the rock quality and route scope of Queen Creek (which I have spent only 2 days bouldering and 2 roped climbing). I think mining the Queen Creek area is unfortunate, it will devastate the piece of land and it will never be the same. I think the land swap is a dangerous precedent to set, what if someone find gold under Yosemite, will they trade the land for something else and trash the valley to find the precious metals? (Extreme example).
On the other hand, climbing state parks could be a good precedent to set (at least for climbers). This resource could live on for the life of climbing, certainly longer that the mining of copper at Queen Creek. Not that climbers are a big economic force, but it would give the town of Kearny a small, very long term boost, rather that the quick and large boost of copper mining.
I don't know the exact figures, but for the sake of argument is the copper company going to give up on 20 billion dollars worth of copper under Queen Creek? For many generations to come they will be trying to get this deposit if the don't succeed now. They have done well for the last few generations.
In conclusion, I would like to be able to climb Tamo in the future. It would be a good addition to the available winter destinations. Joshua Tree, Ca. is great, but windy, grainy and short. Bishop, Ca. has great bouldering, but the roped climbing is limited because sun only reaches the Owens River gorge for a portion of the already short days. Red Rocks is ok in the winter, but sport climbing is the main option because a large proportion of the longer routes face north. Also, Red Rocks is a storm magnet with 12,000 ft Mt Charleston catching most storms in the area and once the rock gets wet, it takes at least 2 days of no climbing before it drys. Tucson, Az. has lots of good granite climbing in the winter. Cochise has longer routes that wonder up a number of domes. It is generally slabby and has some bird closure issues. Mount Lemmon has lots of climbing. The rock gets more solid the higher up the mountain you go, also windier and colder. Mt. Lemmon also attracts weather. Heuco Tanks, Tx. is some of the best bouldering in the world with some of the biggest access issues in the climbing world. Tamo has no good access, some very good rock, semi short routes, a good range of route difficulties and lots of steep limestone with some deposition features (tuffas) in the area. If there was a road built, it would be one of my first choices for US. winter climbing, and definitely a stop during the winter climbing circut.
Tamo is the name given to a cluster of quartzite crags located along a ridge of the Dripping Spring Mountains just east of Kearny, AZ. and adjacent to the north side of Tam O’Shanter peak. Although some of the crags are visible from hwy 77 as well as the Homestead, no one had ever managed to access it conveniently or develop any of the climbing. Tamo was first accessed and climbed by renowned climber and boulderer John Sherman during the search for climbing areas for the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange, a controversial mining proposal which threatens some of the climbing at the nearby climbing area of Queen Creek / Oak Flat. John Sherman and crew have since been working hard with Arizona State Parks to turn Tamo into the first real “State Climbing Park” in the nation. The goal is for the State Park at Tamo to become the best conceived and developed climbing area in the nation with the most climber-friendly management. As such it will become an example for land managers world-wide of how climbers, public agencies and the private sector can work together to accomplish such a goal. The success of such a park will showcase climbing as a legitimate and desirable activity on public land, hopefully spurring the creation of more such climbing parks across the globe.
There is a cumulative total of more than three horizontal miles of climbable cliffs. The crags face all directions making it easy to chase sun or shade and each separate cliff , buttress, or boulder has its own character.
The developed climbing at Tamo, is on the many cliffs of Troy quartzite scattered to the north below 4633 foot Tam O'Shanter Peak. The various cliffs of the area range from about 30 feet to aroud 200 feet, however the average route length is around 65 feet. The summit of Tam O’Shanter peak is formed by a 80 foot cliff of typical AZ limestone, similar to the Homestead in quality. Because of its steep, rugged approach and the superior quality of the nearby Troy quartzite, it has received no development thus far.
There are currently (as of Aug/08) over 300 roped climbs and over 150 boulder problems (not including variations). Because of the incredible quality of the rock, Trad gear is very good when it’s available and Tamo hosts an large quantity of Trad and Trad/Sport routes. Where natural protection is less available, the routes have been bolted into sport climbs. Most of the development under 30 feet remains either a TR or bouldering. Area developers John Sherman and Chris Hill have cataloged the potential for an estimated 2500+ roped climbs and over 500 individual boulder problems. More crags and bouldering have been identified since this original estimate. The original Tamo guide (formerly posted on www.climbtamo.com) was written as a teaser to sell the Tamo project (quite successfully) to Arizona State Parks, and is now out dated.
Because of the area’s “new” condition, visitors are encouraged to exercise caution when scrambling and hiking around the undeveloped areas, there are many unstable blocks which can be easily dislodged.
Apparently Resolution Copper is involved in the development of this climbing area, as they plan to turn Oak Flats into a crater. I have not seen Tamo, but as I understand it, I can drive further from Phoenix to get there after I have purchased a gas guzzling four wheel drive to get me across private land. This must be Resolution's effort to go green. It is very considerate of them to make this financial sacrifice as they plan to mine billions of dollars of copper out of the Queen Creek Canyon area.
Tamo - Upon first sight this crag doesn't look too inspiring due to its short routes and highly fractured rock. But... once you get to climbing and actually see the routes from above, perceptions change. Many of the routes here are short and there is come choss, but, by being selective, one has the opportunity to climb on very high quality quartzite. One route in particular that got my attention right away was masterbiner. This route climbs the cleanest and tallest and most badass feature in all of tamo. I was in a state of pure ecstacy when I was working this route a couple weeks ago with my buds: excellent movement, perfect stone and a great setting. Now, I can't wait to go back.
Being so close to the ridge line of the dripping springs mountains, this crag offers some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding areas. We hiked to the next highest point north of Tamo Shanter Peak and were awed by the 75+ mile vista.
Tamo may not be the place where world class climbers go between hueco and yosemite, but for us arizonas, we are really lucky. Thanks Sherman for developling this place!
This place is awesome. in my opinion, the best thing that could happen is nothing. The way things are now, it won't be overun with climbers. and noone else will be up there. it's perfect. Have fun at Queen Creek!