For the moment, access to this area by climbers should be from a temporary trailhead/parking area that is located near the old Morrell's Wall Parking Lot area. From there, the new Tom's Thumb Trail leads up toward Morrells Wall, Gardeners Wall and on to Tom's Thumb. Please look for, and use designated climber access trails.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.
Tom's Thumb is a prominent 140-foot plug of desert granite that perches atop the McDowell Mountains ridgeline. It is visible from miles in all directions. Originally called "The Dork" by the old time Phoenix climbers, it was rechristened Tom's Thumb in honor of climber Tom Kreuser back in the day.
The rock and the routes on Tom's Thumb are mostly in the excellent range. The harder routes here are some of the best you'll find on any granite crag in the Phoenix area. Because of the slightly burly approach, and the general notion that granite climbing is out of style these days in Phoenix, you're not likely to have to share any routes while visiting the Thumb.
Beautiful, incredibly classic place to climb.
Approach as for Gardener's Wall parking, but pick out a trail through the desert aiming for a drainage leading straight down the hillside from the Thumb. Watch out for snakes in the warm times of the year!
A nice day of moderate climbing can also be done by approaching Gardener's Wall, climbing a route to the top, and then downclimbing off the back and hiking up to Tom's Thumb for more fun!
This is a killer line up the entire north face of Tom's Thumb. A treat for the well rounded trad climber. The start, in a box, appears unappealing but the jams are fun. Then undercling right with slick feet to a small right facing corner with a crack, which starts with tips but becomes more secure as you go higher. The short transition from roof to corner is about 10c or harder (I pulled on a piece to get around). The upper crack starts with a short section of wide hands and then becomes a ...[more]Browse More Classics in AZ
Update: New Access for North Area of McDowells In May we reported on the recent success of the Arizona Mountaineering Club (AMC) and local Arizona climbers in working with the City of Scottsdale to open the north area of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve to climbing. Part of the climbing management plan requires that climbers use official parking areas and designated trails, which the local climbing community is currently working to establish. The AMC is pleased to report that the new Tomís Thumb trail is now open and can be accessed from a temporary parking area in the general vicinity of Morrell's Parking Lot, where the permanent parking will eventually be located.
For more information on the Tomís Thumb Trail and designated access to the other historic climbing crags in the area, visit the Arizona Mountaineering Club's website.
Hey all, I was on Sucubus (5.10a) today and when I was rapping down I saw a raptor fly out of the alcove on Sacred Datura Direct (5.9). Upon descent, I found indeed there is a raptor nest in Sacred Datura Direct.
I am relatively new to the Phoenix area, but I know every other crag I've climbed at in the US refrains from climbing while and where raptors are nesting. Although I am no expert, it seems to me that all routes right of Treiber's (5.7) and left of Great Compromise (5.9) should be avoided out of good climbing ethic for the time being.
Can somebody who actually knows what they're talking about here weigh in?
Hey Taylor; I saw the falcons a couple weeks ago as well! They are Prairie falcons. Three yrs ago a pair of Peregrine falcons tried to nest in that same alcove! That was the first time I noticed nesting falcons. Not sure if they were successful in rearing any young. And yes, most climbers are or should be guardians of the environment! And yes alot of cliffs are closed here in Az. for falcons to nest. If falcons are disturbed while nesting ( evidenced by screaming adults ) the eggs can cool n die or the young can be scared from the ledge before they can fly. The whole formation of Toms thumb should be closed from Jan to June. Anyone standing on the top of Toms thumb and throwing ropes and such would disturbed nesting falcons. I dont think the land managers of the area (mcdowell sonoran preserve ) know of the situation. Im in the process of trying to contact them and see if we can institute a seasonal closure. Feel free to contact them as well. It will piss off the dill weed climbers, but oh well. My background to speak of the biology of falcons is twofold ( Wildlife biologist and falconer ).
Prairie falcons aren't on the Endangered Species List anymore. Although some land managers have used the List as an arbitrary closure. I am very disappointed when anyone bothers wild life. Hopefully both Taylor and Lou were nice enough to stop climbing and walk the talk. Otherwise, did the birds leave? Were they disturbed enough to wreck the nest?
I have seen falcons elsewhere in AZ, Isolation Canyon for one. In that area, I have noticed their nest for years and avoided the nearby routes when they were active. I have seen people climb near them and they will let you know when you are too close. If you see a nest or falcons near your route, move on.
Contacting the Scottsdale land managers is only going to fan the fire to close everything. Hopefully Scottsdale will have the same response as the Natl Forest when informed of the falcons in Isolatiion: they aren't endangered. That will leave us as the stewards of the cliffs.
Please share the places we enjoy with the wild things. Show them respect and care for them without intervention by the "Authorities".
Hey Manny... I know how what a pain it can be to have cliffs closed. But we need to protect the native fauna. Prairies arent endangered, neither are peregrines. However they are protected Federally from harassment. That is why there are still cliffs closed for Peregrines all over the West ( Yosemite, Zion, Mt Lemon, Chochise, J-tree ) So kinda a moot point about endangerment; we dont need to puch them back. I generally walk the walk. When the birds "let you know" they are very distressed and eggs can chill and young can suffer. Nest are very exacting in the direction they face, height, size, exposure, etc... some nests are dated in use for a thousand yrs! As to the National forest response; it was the local Payson state wildlife manger; Im the one who informed them and told you of the response, remember? Anyhow, his lack of response is not typical and certainly not of Federal land managers; so that particular issue is not necessarily finished. Your last lines ring true; too bad alot of climbers dont have the morals and respect that you do.... you know that!!