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Phobos/Deimos Cliff
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YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 250', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Tom Higgins and Tom Gerughty, August 1970
Page Views: 2,587
Submitted By: Alexander Nees on Aug 31, 2010

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Pitch 3, the bolt-protected move. Photo by Sarah ...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


The counterpart to Phobos, and the other namesake climb of this cliff, Deimos is an excellent steep climb with a lot of hands/fists/OW crack. It has a bit of a reputation as being hard, burly, and with less than perfect protection. I found none of these to be particularly true. The climb is truly a bit atypical for Tuolumne, being more reminiscent of Valley crack climbs with lots of wideness and flares. But after the first 30 feet, the rock is excellent, there is pro wherever you want it, and the offwidth is pretty tame and easily stemmed or face-climbed around. Phobos is maybe a slightly better climb (mostly just because of the awesome handcracks), but Deimos is still well worth climbing.

Pitch 1 (5.9, 60 feet): Belay on top of a massive boulder at the base of some stacked blocks leading up to the prominent V-slot roof. Climb the blocks on good holds to reach the chimney, being careful of loose rock. Stem and chimney up through the slot to a single tricky move getting up and into the crack above (crux). Belay at a bad sloping stance shortly after the chimney, or continue higher to a better belay or to link pitches 1 and 2.

Pitch 2 (5.9, 120 feet): This pitch links fairly easily with Pitch 1 if you sling your pro carefully around the roofs. Climb the slanting ramp/flare, using the wide-hands and offwidth crack in the back. Arriving underneath the roof, you will find a slung block. I think this spot would make a far more comfortable belay for Pitch 1 if you don't want to link the first two pitches. Pass the roof on the left at 5.9 with interesting stems and jams, or undercling out the right at 5.10b. Ascend the cracks above to an easy chimney, and step left to a good ledge for the belay.

Pitch 3 (5.9, 60 feet): Traverse left across the ledge, then climb the obvious large flakes to the summit, past a single bolt-protected 5.9 face move. Belay from summit boulders.


Approach: Deimos is at the far right (east) end of the cliff, roughly 300 meters from the top of the approach trail. There is a decent climber trail along the base of the cliff; just follow it past Blues Riff and Goldfinger and around a corner. The trail stops at a steep gold- and black-streaked wall with an obvious crack system. This is Deimos. There is a brief scramble up some blocks to reach the base of the route, but it is really no big deal, despite its reputation as a stopper "5.8 chimney boulder problem"

Descent: From the ledge at the top of the climb, scramble straight up a short blocky gully to reach the true top of the cliff. From there, follow cairns generally left (west) for maybe 400 meters before descending a gully system shortly after passing the topout of Phobos. The gully is never harder than 3rd class. The cairns are generally adequate, but not totally idiot-proof. If in doubt, stay high until the obvious gully is reached.


Rack: set of nuts, single set of small cams (micros unnecessary), double set of C4s #1-#3, single #4 and #5. If you wanted to triple anything, I would bring 3 #2 C4s. They go in everywhere.

There is a single protection bolt on the last pitch; it was formerly missing (broke or rusted out?) but has been replaced with good hardware.

There are no fixed anchors on this route, although there is a slung block under the roof on pitch 2. I think you could probably rap to the ground from there with a single 60m rope, but did not check this.

Photos of Deimos Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Deimos.  Aug 2015.
BETA PHOTO: Deimos. Aug 2015.
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading P2, with Allison.  Aug 2015.
Leading P2, with Allison. Aug 2015.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up Pitch 1 from the belay stance at the ba...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up Pitch 1 from the belay stance at the ba...
Rock Climbing Photo: The V-slot roof on Pitch 1.  Photo by Sarah Kate S...
BETA PHOTO: The V-slot roof on Pitch 1. Photo by Sarah Kate S...

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By Alexander Nees
From: Grand Junction, CO
Aug 31, 2010

Phobos is rated 5.9+ on MountainProject. My partner and I felt that the crux move over the roof on Pitch 1 of Deimos was harder than anything on Phobos, but they both just felt like solid 5.9 to us. Phobos a bit more sustained, Deimos a bit more funky.
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Sep 7, 2010

The Supertopo really talks this route up like it's the burliest, most heinous, 5.9 sandbag ever to exist. It's not true, so don't let that stop you from getting on this gem. The climb is just as good as Phobos and imo the first 50 feet of Phobos is WAY harder than anything on Deimos.
By SirTobyThe3rd
May 20, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Agreed with Bryan G. This route is not bad at all, and SUPER well protected.
By J Kazu
From: Los Angeles, CA
Mar 30, 2015

The V-slot is easier than it looks from the ground. If you enjoy wide climbing this route is a total blast.
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Aug 9, 2015

fun wide roofs on P1 and P2. if you have a #5, no need to triple anything, even with anchoring considerations. can walk that big bad boy lots, esp on P2

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