Type: Sport, 1000 ft (303 m), 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: Kevin Wagner, Ryan Boyden, Allie Burnett, Peter Senchyna, Ann Marie Maly (2017)
Page Views: 35,859 total · 501/month
Shared By: Kevin Wagner on Apr 15, 2018 · Updates
Admins: adrian montaño, Greg Opland, Brian Boyd, JJ Schlick, Kemper Brightman, Luke Bertelsen

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Warning Access Issue: Restrictions January 1 - April 30 DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

THIS ROUTE IS CLOSED JAN 1 TO APRIL 30 EVERY YEAR. Please respect the closure. This will help enable Bighorn Sheep to thrive and will help to maintain positive access relationships with local land management. See the current documentation here (active through 2025): fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DO…

Void of Form climbs the long buttress of rock that ends at Pontatoc Peak. The name was given when the first ascentionists of Shelter From the Storm named this massive chunk of rock the "Void of Form Buttress" after the Bob Dylan song. While Shelter From the Storm (and the only other route on the cliff at the time of writing) ascends the top half of this buttress, the first pitches of those routes climb cracks to the right to access the big grassy ledge, and then hike East to access the upper half of the buttress. The unpredictable character of the protectable features on this banded gneiss cliff led to the near death of a member of the first ascent party. In contrast, Void of Form climbs the entirety of the buttress from its lowest to highest aspect, and climbs impeccable (albeit naturally unprotectable) rock for the majority of the route.

Ten pitches of moderate but exciting climbing leads to an excellent summit, and one of the best walk-offs around. Most of the belays are on big ledges (with the exception of the 10" wide 6th pitch belay ledge), and a bivy could likely be fashioned in many places, including the summit. However, the climbing is mostly easy (5.5/5.6ish), and even the slowest parties should be able to pull off the climb in a day (hence the grade III rating).

This route is something unique for Tucson and Southern Arizona, as it is currently the longest sport route in the area, and one of the longest in the US. At an easily accessible grade of 5.9 and equipped for fast retreat with a single 70 meter rope, this route is recommendable to almost any climber. Finding, cleaning, and establishing this route took five months of effort. The hardware is all bomber and should last for decades. However, it has become quite popular. It should be possible for faster parties to pass in several places without causing anyone to be inconvenienced, but if you aren't interested in that or the alternative of waiting in line, consider climbing this during the off season or waking up early!

The pitch breakdown: (lengths are for rappelling, not necessarily the climbing line; star ratings are subjective)

Note that the approach for Void of Form takes a sharp right turn upon reaching the cliff, descends through the bushes for several meters, and then arrives at an easy to reach first bolt. There is a second line of bolts several hundred feet to the left (see route description for Signals).

1) 5.8, 30m, *: A low first bolt marks the start of the route. Climb easy ledges to a bulge, navigate around it, and then climb more easy ledges. Finish out right on a steep bowl of rock with good holds. P1 ends on "Prickly Pear Ledge".

2) 5.7, 35m, ***: Climb straight up the ramp from the belay, clip a traverse bolt for the follower, and then cross right to the main wall and a nicely featured slab.

3) 5.9, 35m, ****: Start at the left of the belay ledge and climb left around the arete, or straight up for extra spice. An airy and unlikely move left at the 4th bolt and a horizontal crack brings you back to slab terrain. After several bolts of slab, cross right at the tree (easier to cross low), and follow cracks to the belay. If retreating after pitch 3, rappel to climber's right of the tree (the bolts are climber's left). 

4) 5.8, 20m, ***: an airy traverse left from the belay (photo-op) leads to big holds on a vertical face.

5) 5.8, 20m, **: a second (smaller) traverse pitch leads to the half-way ledge. Combine with P4 for efficiency, or split it in two to keep an eye on your climber.

6) 5.9, 30m, ***: a difficult start right above the belay leads to a vertical face with good holds, passing one huge ledge to arrive at an exposed belay on the smallest ledge on route. It is possible to link with P7 to skip the semi-hanging belay, if desired.

7) 5.8, 30m, *:  a crux off the belay and run out after the first bolt leads to the 200' adventurous section of mountaineering-esque climbing. It would be easy to get lost here, but if in doubt the next bolt is likely straight up. Try not to fall between the first and second bolts, as you will likely impact your belayer.

8) 5.7, 30m, *: more mountaineering-esque climbing leads to a big ledge at the base of the crux overhang of the next pitch. Links with P7, slings may help reduce rope drag.

9) 5.9, 35m, ****: two bolts of overhanging bucket climbing leads to a difficult mantle (crux of the route). Surmount the crux, and climb sustained face and cracks to Black Widow Ledge under the giant roof.

10) 5.8, 20m, ***: walk far to the left to clip the first bolt, then climb up to a corner. Find a way to get established in the corner, and finish on the face to the right. It is ***highly recommended*** to step right over the roof after clipping the last bolt, look down at where you came from, and savor the exposure before pulling onto the summit.

Belay your partner to the top and then enjoy the nice hike down Pontatoc Ridge Trail with views of the Tucson basin.

Location Suggest change

Approach via Pontatoc Canyon trail( 1.5-2 miles ). Exit the main trail to the right where a fork forms an entrance to a sub-trail on the right (32º20'41.95" N, 110º53'31.02" W). Follow this trail until it turns to slabs, then cross the drainage at cairns. Follow more cairns up the boulder field, aiming for the toe of the buttress. At the top of the boulders, a short slab scramble leads to the final section, becoming a game trail that leads to the base of the route. The final 40 feet of approach passes a wooded section, then turns right into it to find the first bolt between the trees.

Allow 1.5±0.5 hours for approach and 1.5±0.5 hours for descent depending on your fitness and ego.

It is recommended to leave nothing at the base and do not try to haul on this route.

Protection Suggest change

16 quick draws for the longest pitch (P9), though skipping bolts is definitely an option where the climbing is easy.
The route will likely feel over-bolted for the 5.10+ climber. While the cruxes are well-protected, due to the low angle nature of the wall there are several do-not-fall zones, especially given that a rescue 700 feet off the ground would be complicated at best. All anchors are equipped with chains and retreat is straightforward with a single 70 meter rope (but not possible with a 60).  You will need a total of 19 draws if you combine P6 and P7 and plan to clip all the bolts on these two pitches.

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