BETA PHOTO: This is where you turn left off the aspen trail on...
Back when we were developing The Steep, we used to look down towards the stream, and across the canyon, and try to identify interesting crags. I identified 3 that I called Delta, Echo and Foxtrot (newly named the Spectrum Wall), and put them on my list of places to visit. Delta did not look all that great to me. I couldn't see any overhangs, so I thought it would just be crappy slabs if anything. Tony had been there and showed me some topos, but I didn't really pay any attention. But last summer (2013), after putting it off for years, I finally stopped by Delta.
And what a beautiful spot ! No people, great looking stone, big trees untouched by fire, and you can hear sabino creek running just below. Tony had done several routes, but also left the best-looking face alone, and had never red-pointed one of the best routes. So I drilled a few holes and did some climbing. To my surprise I ran into some of the best vertical routes I've done. The Steep has some excellent 11s (George, Blue Sky, Spiderman), but I think the >>FIVE<< (6 now ?) 11+s at Delta are as good or better.
One of the few Mt Lemmon crags that require technical climbing to reach the summit. The Steep is another. If you are looking for a real, old-school reach-the-summit experience, do the East Crack route, climb past the anchor and belay on top of the crag.
The FIN is a really cool rock feature. It is an (almost) free-standing tower about 100 feet high, leaning against the main dome. Its NE face is made of incredible rock...really nubbly with lots of side-pulls and fingery stuff. It's really fun, a true 5.11 heaven. The FIN is also a natural windbreak against the prevailing southwest wind. You can probably climb comfortably on Fin Arete, and the routes to the right, even on windy days.
You can get there from Raycreation. Or from the Steep.
OR... if you're feeling adventurous...
Take the Aspen Loop trail as though you were going to the Steep. See the attached map image. After about 10 minutes walking you will be in the aspen/fern glade. It is very flat in there, but there is a definite step up around a big tree, and then after 100 more feet the trail swings right and starts up a set of steep switch-backs.
JUST BEFORE THE SWITCH-BACKS there is a path heading east. There is a LITTLE SIGN (to the right of the trail) SAYING "WILDERNESS...NO BICYCLES". Head LEFT off the main trail, onto the path at this point. Almost immediately you walk ON a fallen tree, and then traverse up along a steepish slope through fairly thick vegetation. The path becomes easy to follow here. Should be plenty of footprints, cairns and machete-work to show the way.
After a couple of hundred feet, it flattens out, and you are in a grove of small trees. Look for the path to branch LEFT and go over a couple of fallen trees. Follow the faint path east (through the sticker bushes) until it becomes more obvious again. Look for a very long fallen tree pointing down the hill to the NE. Follow along its north side and then swing south once you are around it.
Now you are into the pines again, and the path continues south and starts heading down to Delta. From this point the path basically parallels the creek to your east. Cairns, blazes, foot-prints and machete-work should show the way. From the long fallen tree to Delta is about 1500 feet and you gradually lose about 200 feet of elevation.
Climbing Season For the 7 - Upper Highway area.
Weather station 1.9 miles from here
15 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',7],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Delta Dome
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Delta Dome
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Delta Dome:
East Crack 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Fin Arete 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Sport, 70'
The Nose 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport, 90'
Featured Route For Delta Dome
Crystal Meth 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b AZ
: Mount Lemmon (Santa Catalin...
: ... : Delta Dome
Excellent movement on chossy crystals. I am probably the only person who would give this route 3 stars. But it is exactly the kind of roped bouldering I like. It reminds me of the Beach at Milagrosa, pretty steep and action packed from first move to last.It's pretty chossy, but getting better.Longer version (Breaking Bad ?) JB, TM...[more] Browse More Classics in AZ
BETA PHOTO: Trails around Delta.
BETA PHOTO: Overview of crag.
BETA PHOTO: Birds-eye view from south, with fin and shady east...
By Joe Kreidel
From: San Antonio, TX
Apr 15, 2014
One bonus about this area is that one side faces due east, one side due west, making it very easy to chase sun/shade.
One safety note - last fall I attempted the route labeled South Rib on jbak's topo. The route was very good, but I never found the anchors. I climbed way above the last bolt, but down climbed back to the bolt. Maybe I missed the anchors, or maybe they have been added, but just a heads up.
By David Adams
May 11, 2014
Fun fact, without blinking, John soloed about 50 feet of questionable, delicate face climbing with a drill and a single quickdraw to clip to what appeared to be a bolt at the lip of this beast so we could get to top for the first time. Although if you ask him he will probably say it was about half the height haha.
From: Tucson, AZ
Jun 7, 2015
Thanks for developing and sharing a beautiful crag with fantastic climbing. I am loving the routes both technically and aesthetically.
Jun 9, 2015
Note about the new approach beta. There is a sign right where you leave the aspen trail and turn left onto the approach. Check the photo I added. Somehow I blow the approach on the way back every time. Pay attention on the way in if you don't want to thrash on the way out. Hehe. What a great crag. Thanx a bunch jbak and co!
Sep 16, 2016
Another large thanks to Myk Brown who worked his magic on the trail to Delta. It may even be followable by someone who has never been before.
Weirdly, almost all of the 200 cairns I have made during the past few years were gone when we went in. Not just kicked over... GONE. Can't imagine how that could be.