Type: Trad, 180 ft
FA: Steiger and Jurashek; 1984
Page Views: 2,031 total · 12/month
Shared By: eMurdock on Feb 8, 2005 with updates from CASA Climbing Assn. of So. AZ
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland

You & This Route

17 Opinions

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Desire is a classic Lemmon route. The route follows the face and arete of the middle of Nurd Rock. With a 60 meter rope, it should be done as one pitch. Someone replaced the bolts with solid ones and placed two bolts at the mid-belay (which does not need to be used). The route used to have a gear belay there before 60 meter ropes were standard.

This route has it all. Delicate, slabby face climbing gets you started. The first bolt is high. A couple pieces of pro and you are climbing steep, rounded holds up a striking arete to a ledge. Then steep climbing out left takes you up the final headwall into a dihedral to the finish. The pin above the two bolt belay has been replaced with a good bolt.

Falling at certain spots on this climb is out of the question although a couple 40 footers have been logged and legend has it that a certain prolific Tucson climber botched the first clip and took the grounder.


8 or 9 bolts and a handful of small to medium nuts and cams.

Bolts and top-anchors updated by CASA in 2018.


Casa do Cacete
  5.10c R
Christian   Casa do Cacete
  5.10c R
Botching the second clip is also almost a guaranteed grounder..If you fall on the runouts on the arete you better hope you fall into one of the really wide parts of "Great Expectations" (to the climber's left) without hitting the other side of the chimney.

Gear for first pitch = Blue Alien through 0.5 Camalot + sling for horn + 5 bolts in about 120 feet of climbing. My partner who led the 50 foot second pitch didn't use any gear on it, just the bolts.
Cold shuts for both belays.

I was about ready to cry for my mommy on this route :-)(11a being my limit at the time)

You can't tell from the highway but Nurd is an imposing and large piece of rock! Nov 17, 2007
Jeff G.
  5.10 R
Jeff G.   Lyons
  5.10 R
All time classic Mt. Lemmon route. Dec 24, 2009
1Eric Rhicard
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Pretty sure those are big fat 3/8ths bolts and are still bomber. If they are smaller than that then you might want to replace them otherwise leave them be. They still have another 20 years in them. Apr 18, 2010
If your going to chop and replace the bolts, chop the stupid anchors some dip stick installed at the top of the first pitch. A bomber gear belay can be had using the horizontal crack that is there.

You can just lead the route all the way to the top anyway. Apr 19, 2010
To the extent the old bolts were replaced, thanks. By the way, no one needs to ask my permission to replace any bolts I placed when I lived in Tucson, particularly the buttonheads. We had a bunch of the short ones (1 ½ inch?) at some point, and while we tried to use them only for aid routes (for “rivets”), I’m sure several were placed on free routes in Southern Arizona (forgive us). Now adding new bolts (like the 1st pitch belay), that is not cool with me regardless whose route it is – so I’m with Jimbo, take ‘em out. Sep 19, 2010
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com
Tucson, AZ
  5.10 R
Geir www.ToofastTopos.com   Tucson, AZ
  5.10 R
Did this route again today and it was every bit as good as I remembered.

A couple of notes on the bolts since this has come up in the comments above.

The replaced bolts are are stamped "90". Crazy that the replaced bolts are already 23 years old. The last bolt on the climb is still an original bolt with an the old style thin SMC hanger. This should be replaced. The remainder of the bolts are 3/8" wedge bolts with a lot of life in them.

Unfortunately, when the bolts were replaced back in 1990 the original 3/8" split shafts were not removed; instead they were pounded in a bit and the threads mashed up. It's messy and it looks like they would be extremely difficult to remove without core drilling. It is possible to get those types of bolt out if the thread remains intact, so if you run into this type of bolt and want to replace it, consider pulling the bolt and re-drilling the hole. Otherwise other routes will wind up in the same boat as this classic line. Nov 28, 2013
Jon Ruland
Tucson, AZ
Jon Ruland   Tucson, AZ
so what is it about this route that makes it a classic? this is a serious question, i'm not being contrary; just trying to figure out if it's worth going to this area to do this one climb. Mar 2, 2015
Littleton, CO
Hendrixson   Littleton, CO
John Steiger's Climber's Guide To Sabino Canyon And Mount Lemmon Highway states the following: "Possibly the finest route in the western hemisphere." Mar 3, 2015
1Eric Rhicard
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
A tongue in cheek statement as John had spent enough time climbing outside the area to know what a world class route was. Well worth doing if you can get well above your last bolt. Bolted from the ground up, on lead, by hand drill. Well bolted by old school standards. Mar 3, 2015
Worthy, and then some. NURD rock isn't nearly as difficult to get to as you might think. Mar 3, 2015
The fixed anchors on this route were updated by CASA in 2018. See the full list of updated climbs at theclimbershome.org/about-t…

Hardware and tools are paid for by your donations, a grant from Access Fund & American Alpine Club, and support from Rocks & Ropes and The BLOC. Jul 11, 2018
Andy Bennett
Tucson, AZ
  5.10 R
Andy Bennett   Tucson, AZ
  5.10 R
An incredible and incredibly engaging route, with real consequences. A light rack of tips to fat fingers and stoppers shortens a run between two of the lower bolts. Yes, there is good gear to be had at the mid-way anchor, but it has been retained to enable rapping to the bottom with a single 70m (60m?..tie knots...) rope. Definitely worth doing the entire thing as one long, exciting pitch! Be sure to start heading left after the first 40' or so, instead of straight up, or else you'll end up on an unknown route with similar run-outs that is much harder. Nov 30, 2018