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EWolfe

[TR] - 3/1/2008 A Weekend at Tamo, AZ

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Trip: -

 

Date: 3/1/2008

 

Trip Report:

My friend Mike K invited me to visit the area known as Tamo (as in ‘taming’) for a weekend of climbing last weekend. The chance to explore yet another area, combined with my affinity for quartzite and the chance to meet The Verm (John Sherman) convinced me to abandon the higher ground of Flagstaff and head for Kearny and warm weather.

 

The area was originally slated as part of the land-trade agreement for the Queen Creek mining interests to ‘help’ the climbers in compensatory measures towards their future loss of The Mine Area and Euro-Dog Valley. Both of which are still open as of now. Rumor has it John was flown around to find a climbing area near Superior, land was bought for access to it, then he was given bolts, hangers, anchors,etc. and presumably bits for the flint-hard quartzite. As well, being paid for the development! Good work if you can get it!

 

Unfortunately, the access (as of now) is not quite ideal: 3.5 miles on 2WD road, followed by 4 miles on high-clearance 4WD mining road. Then the 15-20minute approach through the usual suspects of the high desert. But land has been purchased that allows access from the much-closer valley below, the only remaining obstacle is for the mine to build the access road...through the land they bought for non-mining purposes...so climbers could get to their climbs easier...and paying for equipment and development of the area...does something seems funny?

 

Oh, well! Enough of the gift-horse mouth-gazing!

Located just across the valley from the Homestead climbing area (south of Kearny), there is enough rock in this area to choke any rock monkey- be they willing to forgo the “Arizona Backcountry” approach.

John lives in Kearny and swears the 4WD road to Tamo goes in 18 minutes by Jeep, so strap yourself in! Personally, I would prefer an ATV or dirtbike to the imminent-death gaping from the passenger’s side, but I hear people do this kind of road for fun in their rigs (I don’t understand it, must be a Jeep Thing).

 

Mike was kind enough to put forth this disclaimer the first 10 minutes into the difficult section:

“I’m not the best off-road driver...”

 

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I have always liked quartzite. It has a tenuous and demanding aspect to it that hardens one’s resolve: a refiner’s fire of rock quality. Stellar holds only limited by the ability to stick and balance through the often inobvious sequences, and requiring tenacity and creativity. Eldorado Canyon, in my opinion defines this quality. The Tamo rock, though not as clean or long, is a similar type of climbing. It feels hard for the grade.

 

I also wanted to compare the rock to Isolation, another quartzite crag recently developed in Arizona (is there any rock we don’t have?), and having been to Skaha, Eldo and Seneca Rocks, was interested in the comparison. The rock often seems slippery on the fingers - tricking the mind to distrust the feet - but the rubber friction is actually better than with the skin, I find. Monzonite and Rhyolite have this quality too.

 

The first day we arrived at the crack of noon with a group of 8 or so to sample the top-roping area called “The Corridors”.

 

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All the climbs are 25-40 feet tall, and numerous ropes had been strung up from the tops of the easily-accessible columns. Anchors abound, and setting up TR’s is easy-breezy. The view looked over another rock formation known as the “Tam-o-shanter” because of it’s similarity to the hat, and the areas namesake.

 

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The climbing in the Corridors is a blast! It is also difficult to see chalk on this rock, making the sometimes inobvious holds even more difficult to find. I found my self doing a lot of what MedSooz calls “shopping”. True to form, the climbing is steep and physical on great holds, varying greatly but continuous for the grade.

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One of the corridors:

 

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On one climb John dubbed the “Mr. Stinky Challenge”, he set PBR’s on the ledge in the middle of an .11a and the challenge is to chug the beer before finishing the route. Here he is stocking the ledge:

 

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The best part is yelling “rock” as the empty is tossed down. According to the V-grade author, the beer upgraded the climb to .11b and you have to pop the top on the way down for the next climber. Passing the challenge:

 

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The route is called Mr. Stinky because in the crack next to the route is a dead and decomposing coatimundi. Good times!

 

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Back to camp for food and a nice fire with 20-25 climbers, and a beautiful starry night.

 

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John and his sweet van:

 

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The next day was slated for the main area, with sport, mixed and trad climbs. After the bump out the road, we traversed a ridge to a cool slot that allows access to the cliffs below.

 

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Coming out from the crevice, the rock cliffs changes the landscape dramatically, providing coolness and more foilage to the desert environ.

 

Tamo59_resize.jpg

 

The climbs were a bit taller, we sampled a 5.9 that was really good, and then worked a stellar 5.12a that worked me back! The climbing is a bit more spread out along this cliff-band, with plenty of new routes yet to be developed. We then moved onto a very hard .11b, on which I hung at every bolt. Right next to it was a photogenic 5.8, I took some pictures of Kathleen from Seattle leading:

 

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I was gassed by this point, so I hung out and enjoyed the sun and scenery. Another climber on the nice .12a (the .9 is on the left):

 

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Soon it was afternoon, so we gathered together our fellow 4WD-poolers and headed back to camp, then towards Phoenix. Just North of Kearny, I got some pictures of a monsterous open-pit mine, this thing must be 30 miles square:

 

Tamo76_resize.jpg

 

Quite an adventure, all in all!

 

Cheers, Erik

 

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You're killin' us here, E.

 

Oh well, guess somebody has to live the dream....

 

and at least you post great pictures for us to get a little taste of it. :tup:

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