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5.9+, Trad, 275 ft, 3 pitches,  Avg: 3.7 from 142 votes
FA: Tom Higgins & Jack Miller, 1970
California > Yosemite NP > Tuolumne Meadows > Phobos/Deimos Cliff
Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


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 [Hide ALL Photos]

[Hide Photo] Phobos
Start of the first pitch
[Hide Photo] Start of the first pitch
Luke Lydiard cruising through the pitch 1 crux
[Hide Photo] Luke Lydiard cruising through the pitch 1 crux
a party on the second pitch
[Hide Photo] a party on the second pitch
The view up at the great middle section of Phobos from its base. The double hand cracks climb and protect very nicely.
[Hide Photo] The view up at the great middle section of Phobos from its base. The double hand cracks climb and protect very nicely.
Bryan Hall starting up Pitch 2 of Phobos
[Hide Photo] Bryan Hall starting up Pitch 2 of Phobos
Phobos - Moon of Mars taken by MRO. (c) JPL
[Hide Photo] Phobos - Moon of Mars taken by MRO. (c) JPL
1st pitch crux
[Hide Photo] 1st pitch crux
Leaving the shallow chimney section on P1
[Hide Photo] Leaving the shallow chimney section on P1
Hanson just past the crux roof on pitch 1 of Phobos
[Hide Photo] Hanson just past the crux roof on pitch 1 of Phobos
Dan following P2 of Phobos. <br>
Photo: Corey Gargano
[Hide Photo] Dan following P2 of Phobos. Photo: Corey Gargano
P2 phobos (after the bomb hands)
[Hide Photo] P2 phobos (after the bomb hands)

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Darshan Ahluwalia
Petaluma, CA
[Hide Comment] 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.

Darshan Feb 6, 2007
Greg DeMatteo
W. Lebanon, NH
[Hide Comment] I don't recall this being that sandbagged. Apr 7, 2008
vanishing spy
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 21, 2009
Oakland, Ca
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 29, 2010
David Crockett
Chattanooga, TN
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 24, 2011
[Hide Comment] 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! Oct 1, 2011
Sara Ann
Sunnyvale, CA
[Hide Comment] 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. Sep 10, 2012
Reno, NV
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 24, 2013
Oak Park, CA
[Hide Comment] 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. Sep 19, 2013
Neil Rankin
Winston-Salem, NC
[Hide Comment] 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. Sep 23, 2013
[Hide Comment] Not sure how anyone could give this less than 4 stars, it's so good! Jul 6, 2014
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] New C4 #5 is quite nice for both the P1 belay and the off-width on P3. Don't underestimate the walk-off. Jul 24, 2014
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] 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. Nov 13, 2014
Robert Shortt
San Francisco, CA
[Hide Comment] 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! Sep 21, 2015
San Jose
[Hide Comment] Decent from the top of the cliff is a pain in the AXX especially if you do a stupid mistake like me and you take your sandals instead of appropriate approach shoes for all the bushwalking.
If you are solid on 10s face moves, no need for any big gear IMHO the OW section is jogy and very secure. Sep 6, 2016
[Hide Comment] The flake at the top of P1 with all the sling wrapped around it is moving around when you stand on it (or kick it). Its big enough that it probably won't fall out, but I would not belay or rappel off it.

I had a #5 to belay in the crack above, but #4 and #3 fit as well if you don't want to haul the #5. Aug 20, 2017
Derek Field
[Hide Comment] Amazing route. A few notes from my first lap:
P1: Don't miss the exit right or things will start getting heinous.
P2: I liked 3s more than 2s on this pitch. All said, I would take two of each and a single set below that. In 4 different spots I draped slings over horns in lieu of cam placements.
P3: Loved it! A #5 is nice to have at the crux but otherwise the pitch protects fine with smaller stuff. Jun 11, 2018
[Hide Comment] If you escape right before the second roof on pitch one, you are really cheating yourself out of the best moves on the whole route. Some call it “heinous” but it’s more like a 9+ roof. Jul 3, 2018