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Headache, The T 
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The Headache 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 380', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Brian Smith & Dana Geary, 1975
Page Views: 16,886
Submitted By: Jakester on Mar 23, 2003

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Mmmm...yellow camalots... The Headache, first pit...

Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


The Headache is anything but its namesake: an über-classic line with hands, fingers and a short, offwidth section.

Before undertaking, check at the vistor center as this climb has been subject to raptor closings in years past.

P1 (.10b) The climb begins with two options: either a one inch or a three inch crack, both splitter. Pick one and jam beautiful cracks to the first short, 10b offwidth crux, which protects really well with a 3.5 Camalot.

P2 (5.9+ or easy 5.10) Pitch two goes at 5.9+ or easy 5.10, depending on your height. Cruise up and left from the belay, working through some great .9 terrain until you clip a good bolt on the "puzzle piece" before a splitter roof. Surmount the roof, then up more .9 to the second belay, a tree with slings.

P3 Begins with some really fun, easy, lower-angled cracks and gets progressively more difficult as you near the chains. Save those green Camalots. The pitch ends on a large ledge, from which you rap off 60 meters to a hanging rap anchor. Rap another 60 to the ground.


At minimum, two sets of cams from 3" to 3.5" (heavy on green and yellow camalots), a set of stoppers, 8 draws and 5 shoulder length slings.

All three belays are bolted with bomber bolts.

Bring two 60 meter ropes.

Photos of The Headache Slideshow Add Photo
see arturo dominate the headache
see arturo dominate the headache
Mike Sokoloff on the first pitch of the Headache.
Mike Sokoloff on the first pitch of the Headache.
Pitch 3 finish
Pitch 3 finish
BETA PHOTO: Splitter
The Headache
The Headache
Russ on the awesome spliter start
Russ on the awesome spliter start
third pitch of the headache goes in the left crack...
BETA PHOTO: third pitch of the headache goes in the left crack...
The final crux moves on Headache...
The final crux moves on Headache...
Start of the route.
BETA PHOTO: Start of the route.
One of the thin hands cruxes on P3
One of the thin hands cruxes on P3
Dean is following the bomber hands on P2
Dean is following the bomber hands on P2
second pitch of the headache
second pitch of the headache
Perin Blanchard and Lee Jensen on the third pitch ...
Perin Blanchard and Lee Jensen on the third pitch ...
Lee and Perin at the P2 anchor on May 15, 2010.
Lee and Perin at the P2 anchor on May 15, 2010.

Comments on The Headache Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 9, 2014
Nov 29, 2003

best three pitch route in zion. pay attention to perigrine falcon closures. we almost got ticketed due to the vague description of closure dates in the bjornstadt guide.
By Teleman
From: Steamboat Springs, CO
Apr 18, 2004
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Don't do this climb unless you love to jam!Just did this route 4/16/04 and found it to contain more quality climbing per pitch than anything I can remember any where. Right off the deck you have in your face hand jamming that just leads in to all forms of jams. It is good to remember how to do a face move or two, since every pitch requires at some point that you step a little outside the crack to gain a move.I had no beta going in to this climb other than bring a lot of gear. The #3.5 Met cam was very useful on the off-width on P1 and was even used on P2 when I ran out of #2's and the cracked flaired enough to accept the #3.5. Having 3 #2's would have been useful, I could have left the small nuts and the #4 cam at home, but a couple of tricams and the medium nuts could be useful.The roof on P2 is an interesting problem, but once you identify the hand crack you are there.
By Jakester
May 19, 2004

Why do I see aiders in that picture?
By tenesmus
Dec 16, 2004

I thought it was a killer route - especially if you don't have time to do something long. The approach was also perfect if you're short on time - 5 seconds of flat walking. The guidebook says its5.9 + start pitch, but it felt more as described here.We used a #4 camalot as we didn't have a 3.5, and my friend had to scoot it up and through the first pod to retrieve it. Pitch 2 is really cruiser and the last pitch is the best.
By Anonymous Coward
Jan 15, 2005

Awesome route! I may be mistaken,but pretty sure it is rated 10a. First pitch is standard Zion 5.9+, no harder. Simply straight forward jamming for the first 30 feet.
By Gaar
From: Springdale / Zion UT / Moab
May 25, 2007
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

A 70m doesnt come close to rapping off the last pitch, USE 2 ROPES!!!!
By S. O.
From: logan,ut
May 19, 2008

One of the best around. First pitch is 5.9 with no real OW that I remember. (If there was 5.10 OW I would have remembered it)
By Dr. Dan
From: Steamboat Springs, CO
Apr 22, 2009

Have done this route four times now. It is a bunch of good climbing with a very short approach. Would agree P1 is no harder than 9+, but a 3.5 is nice and other than one wide move is not OW. P2 is just fun made more interesting with the bolt slab problem and a very secure roof (#2 BD cam) to move through. P3 is the most challenging climbing at 10a/b. Good to bring a bunch of finger and small hand sizes for P3, but the wide crack near the top will happily take a #3.
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Apr 14, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Wow - one of the best short multipitch routes I've done. Three varied pitches, bomber gear, and fabulous views.

I had 4 #2 camalots and found plenty of places for them. I had 3 #0.75 camalots and could have placed more if I wanted. The last pitch takes as many green camalots as you can throw at it.

P1 - 5.9+ (the offwidth is littered with handholds)
P2 - 5.10a
P3 - 5.10b

Conservative rack:

Nuts, from medium to large - tricams can be placed as well
Set of TCU sized cams to red alien. Maybe extra yellow alien.
2-3 x #0.5 camalot
3-4 x #0.75 camalot
2 x #1 camalot
4 x #2 camalot
2 x #3 camalot
1 x #3.5 camalot (not sure if a C4 #4 camalot would fit)

We had a C4 #4 as well, and found a few places for it - but it definitely wasn't required.

Wonderful AM sun in April. I suspect in the depths of winter this wouldn't see any sun.
By Rob Duncan
From: Salt Lake City
Oct 11, 2010

I am curious if anyone knows how this route came to be named 'the Headache'. There has got to be a story there, and it might be a good one!

Might be the best 5.10 coupla-pitch route I have ever done. each pitch could stand alone and still be pretty darn good.
By Greg Sievers
From: Estes Park, CO
Oct 28, 2010

splitter climbing at its finest !! a nice way to wrap up a visit to the NP. bag this route before you hit the road.
By Courtney Pace
Oct 16, 2011

If you like hand jams then this is the route to do and it will feel easy, if you can't jam it will feel really hard. Various short cruxes followed by good rests. This route also gets shade since it is north facing.
By Peter Valchev
From: Truckee, CA
Nov 28, 2011
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Absolutely awesome climb. Link pitches 1 & 2 for one amazing 200 ft pitch (save a #2 for the last 50 ft)!!! A bit chilly in late November as it never sees sun (one more reason to do it in 2 pitches)
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 15, 2012

A friend just emailed me this link of a free soloist's POV video: youtu.be/Q2HObfWqszI

Don't know who the climber is and have no opinion on the feat, but the video shows every single jam on route in a ten minute send, so don't watch it if you don't want beta!
By Gaar
From: Springdale / Zion UT / Moab
Aug 15, 2012
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

Nice...but he forgot to climb the 3rd pitch! Puss
By Landon McBrayer
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 9, 2012

Some quick beta:

-a #4 isn't needed. The "OW" pod on P1 is very short; a #3 BD protects above and below.
-I think that four #2's and four .75 BD cams are useful. You'll use them all.
-the second pitch doesn't end at a tree with slings (as stated). It ends at an obvious bomber bolted belay on a small ramp.
-Lots of shade.
By Peter Franzen
From: Phoenix, AZ
Sep 2, 2013
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

Magnificent route! Despite rapping off in an exciting thunder storm we had a great time on all 3 pitches. Our rack consisted of:

- A handful of sub-finger Metolius Mastercams and 2 BD .5s
- 3 each of: BD 0.75, 1, 2
- 2 BD #3s
- A medium Metolius Super cam (great for the wide-ish spots)
- A set of nuts

Superb climbing throughout, although we both agreed that P2 was the most fun.
By Tyson Waldron
From: Reno, NV
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Holy Classic, Batman!
By Briansmith
Dec 9, 2014

This route was first done clean with passive gear only: hexes and stoppers which was the standard gear and ethic of the day. I called it the Headache because I got one from a 30' backward swan dive out of the final move. It was a great route. Brian Smith
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