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Phobos/Deimos Cliff
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L to R R to L Alpha
Blues Riff T 
Deimos T 
Easter Island S 
Goldfinger T 
Phobos T 
Phobos Start Variation T 


YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 275'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Tom Higgins & Jack Miller, 1970
Page Views: 5,350
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (85)
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Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Phobos is the sustained, three pitch climb on the left end of the cliff. It is reported to be the better quality of the two climbs for which the wall is named.

P1: Climb up a crack to a left-facing corner and roof system. Pull through the roof with strenuous stems and jams -- there's usually fixed gear here -- and continue up to an uncomfortable belay in the crack system. 5.9+

P2: Climb the steep, twin cracks to another belay. 5.9

P3: Continue straight up off the belay in a wide crack/chimney system past some hollow sounding features to a slab. It is possible to escape right on this slab via run out climbing, but nicer to continue straight up through the headwall. 5.9


Standard rack plus a 4"-6" piece.

Photos of Phobos Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: a party on the second pitch
a party on the second pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of the first pitch
Start of the first pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Bryan Hall starting up Pitch 2 of Phobos
Bryan Hall starting up Pitch 2 of Phobos
Rock Climbing Photo: 1st pitch crux
BETA PHOTO: 1st pitch crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Phobos - Moon of Mars taken by MRO. (c) JPL
BETA PHOTO: Phobos - Moon of Mars taken by MRO. (c) JPL
Rock Climbing Photo: The view up at the great middle section of Phobos ...
BETA PHOTO: The view up at the great middle section of Phobos ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dan following P2 of Phobos.   Photo: Corey Gargano
Dan following P2 of Phobos. Photo: Corey Gargano
Rock Climbing Photo: The Phobos crack in its entirety.  A great full le...
BETA PHOTO: The Phobos crack in its entirety. A great full le...
Rock Climbing Photo: Phobos
Rock Climbing Photo: Luke Lydiard cruising through the pitch 1 crux
Luke Lydiard cruising through the pitch 1 crux

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 21, 2015
By Olek S
Oct 12, 2015

wasps/hornets in the horizontal cracks of the 5.11+ variation with some activity in the crux area of Phobos (1st pitch) as of October 10, 2015. Not sure what species - might be bald facet hornets or black jacket wasps. We have not seen the actual nest, but there was a lot of activity in and out of the crack.
By Darshan Ahluwalia
From: Petaluma, CA
Feb 6, 2007

The first two pitches can be done--and should be done--in one two hundred foot rope stretcher. With a 60m rope, you will just barely make it to the ledge. To climb it in one pitch, be sure to use long runners through the roof--or better, back clean.

This is the way I did this climb the first time. It was great! It makes for a nice long adventure pitch where you can really zone out and climb for (almost) ever.

By Greg DeMatteo
From: W. Lebanon, NH
Apr 7, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I don't recall this being that sandbagged.
By vanishing spy
Jul 21, 2009
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

A great route, but the first pitch is strenuous, steep and tricky for 5.9, I'd call it 5.10. Maybe it's a bit height dependent. While it's technically possibly to do both pitch 1,2 in one pitch you would need lots of gear and have to manage the drag over the roof. The pitch 2 handcracks take #2 camalots almost anywhere so bring 3 or more, #3s fit in fewer spots. I Went up with two #1,#2, #3s and got flamed bumping the #2s but also plugged a 1, 3. After the cracks merge the climbing eases and more gear options open up.

Also, to have a comfortable belay after pitch one, bring a #4 and 5. Sadly I had to take a hanging belay off the bail slings further down and it sucked.
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Jul 29, 2010

9+ is legit. The climbing is very three dimensional- so if you are keeping an eye out for features there's no 5.10 climbing. 9+ is often harder than 10 as most know, however.
By davecro
From: Lebanon, NH
Jul 24, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

SuperTopo warns of crowds. We climbed this on Saturday and had the route to ourselves all day.

I think linking P1 and P2 is a bad idea.

Use a #4 and #5 for a comfy anchor on the 1st pitch.

P1 felt 5.9+. The moves are strenuous, but there are bomber hand jams and bomber cam placements for the entire pitch.

P2 was amazing 5.9 twin hand cracks with excellent exposure.

P3: I was happy to have the #4 and #5 on this pitch. The offwidth can be avoided with face climbing.
By Greg Barnes
Oct 1, 2011

Warning: there is a bolted anchor on the top of the cliff about 50' right of the finish of Blues Riff and Phobos. This anchor has NO ANCHORS BELOW within reach of two 60m ropes - do NOT use!

Thanks to Katrina Managan and partners for the warning!
By Sara Ann
From: Sunnyvale, CA
Sep 10, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

You can back up a belay off the hollow flake bail slings atop P1 with a #2, but the more legit belay is from the P2 crack, with a #4 and #5.
By BruceB
From: Reno, NV
Jun 24, 2013
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Great climb. Second pitch is fantastic. Ditto "davecro": #4 and #5 camalots make for a nice belay at the start of the P2 double cracks, but also make the 3rd pitch offwidth much safer. Three #2's on the stellar P2 hand crack work great.

Rating a climb by how it feels on-sight lead, I'd say P1 is 10a.

Later edit: #3 and #4 also work for the P1 anchor, and the #4 is enough for P3. leave the #5 on the ground.
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Sep 19, 2013

P2 anchor could be set at a slingable thread-through column at the highest part of that big belay ledge, with a 0.5" placement available to supplement, which could allow one to do without the extra 1.5-3" anchoring gear as indicated by SuperTopo.
By Neil Rankin
From: Greensboro, NC
Sep 23, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I've never climbed this with anything larger than a #4 Friend, if that. I don't know why you would carry a #5 five up there. Maybe people place one on the third pitch, which always seemed a bit more heads up protection-wise.
By Jeff Scheuerell
Jul 6, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Not sure how anyone could give this less than 4 stars, it's so good!
By Nate Ball
From: Portland, OR
Jul 24, 2014
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

New C4 #5 is quite nice for both the P1 belay and the off-width on P3. Don't underestimate the walk-off.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Nov 13, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I'd definitely take a #5 C4 for this route- it was nice for the belay and certainly nice for the last pitch- especially if you're breaking into the grade.

Really good, no harder than 5.9, imho- the crux is basically a stemming problem with really good feet. Think three dimensionally on this one and you'll be fine- try to thug through this and you'll struggle for sure.
By Crimpanzee
From: San Francisco, California
Sep 21, 2015
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Reiterating most of the things already said:
-The crux is the first 20 feet. If this were at the end of the route, who would still call it 5.9? Feels like 10- to me.
-The first pitch belay can also be up and left of the hanging flake at the start of the left crack so you don't use up big pieces on the belay (albeit uncomfortable).
-Carry a BD #4 and if you don't mind the weight, a #5 (I did not have). I barely got the #4 to cam well on the OW section of pitch 3 after some searching.
-Don't skip pitch 3! You barely have to OW, and it's more like fun, stemming, gym kinda moves over a little bulge.
-Link 1 & 2 if you're a badass I guess. I used every single piece I had (with bumping) on P2 alone, including the belays.
-Make sure to follow the cairns on the walk-off (go counter-intuitively higher). Once you meet the main trail, it's about ten minutes out of the way total if you have to retrieve gear from the base.
-Hand cracks don't get much better than P2. So good!

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