Type: Trad, 450 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Ed Webster and Jeff Achey 9/84
Page Views: 13,501 total · 66/month
Shared By: Tony B on Apr 19, 2002
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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Access Issue: RAIN, WET ROCK and RAPTOR CLOSURES: The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Also please ask and be aware of Raptor Closures in areas such as CAT WALL and RESERVOIR WALL in Indian Creek Details


This long and sustained route is one of the longest, and perhaps finer hand-to-fist climbs in Indian Creek. The summit is awesome! The King Of Pain is a tower with a set of twin summits and is the tallest of all of the Bridger Jack towers, other than the Butte itself. It is easily twice the size of the Sparkling Touch, Thumbelina, or Sunflower towers, and almost 3 times the size of Easter Island.

Vision Quest climbs a majority of its length up or near the dihedral system that splits the two towers on the East side. Details are as follows:

P1: Around to the right of the base, on the north tower's east face side, you will see a .75-1.5" fingercrack in a right-facing dihedral. Climb this to its top, then move over to the left to the base of a big slot, and belay at the fixed station. (10c)

P2: From the previously mentioned belay, climb a pumpy hand-to-fist crack up for about 100' to another fixed anchor to belay. The overhanging section may be the physical crux of the route. (10d)

P3: From the fixed belay, start up again in another crack that is wide-hands to fists through a bulge for the technical crux of the route. (10d)

P4: Climb up through some big blocks to an area between where the two summits split, and up onto the face on the right (north summit). This pitch is the psychological crux of the route, and while it is 10a max, it is poorly protected with a few equalized cams in a sandy flare below your feet while summitting on sandy slopers. A fall would be ill-advised.

Descend by a set of fixed raps on double ropes on the east face north of the route- do not attempt to combine raps, and beware of stuck ropes as they are common on this route.


A good selection of cams, including at least one #4 camalot. Go heavy on the 1" and on the 2.5-3.5". A wide piece or two may be useful to provide peace of mind toward the top.
One of the best tower routes in the desert, on par with Primrose, Fine Jade, N. Face Castleton, etc... I would argue that the OW at the top of pitch 2 is the psychological (and possibly technical) crux of the route. The only pro is a stopper behind a chockstone which is below your feet at the start of the grovelling. After a few insecure grovelly moves (left side in OW, right foot smearing on sandy slopeyness) you do get pro when the OW opens enough to chimney. Pitch 4, though you wouldn't want to fall, is 5.8...maybe 5.9. Apr 20, 2002
The slot on pitch two doesn't have to be left side in. It's a pretty old-fashioned grovel either way. We brought one helmet, for whoever was underneath. On the rap from the notch, you need to angle slightly left (climber's left) as you rap to gain the lower rap station in the dihedral. Nov 2, 2002
A note about the "fixed anchors"...they're not very inspiring. The pitch one anchor consists of a drilled angle equalized with a knot tied in webbing used as a chock. The next anchor consists of one drilled angle. To supplement these anchors save some tcu's for the first anchor and some larger cams for the pitch two anchor (3.5 and 4 camalot). Great route. A little bit of everything. Dec 4, 2002
!!!!!Caution!!!!!Vision Quest on King of Pain Spire:The 6x2x2 meter block just left of the belay at the top of the first pitch rocks at least 5 cm if you lean or stem against the top.You must use the block to reach the first belay. It is likely to kill someone if it comes off. It could possibly take out the blocks below it as well. A pity, nice route! Apr 24, 2005
P1 was probably the crux, some laybacking in a .75 camalot crack. P2 wasn't too bad until the very end, the OW part. I put in a gold camalot and purple camalot below the chockstone, then laybacked up until I could get my right side in, ala the picture of Jeff Achey in the guidebook. This seemed to work pretty good. P3 had an awkward bulge, there are good hand jams but they are in the back of this flaring wide crack. P4 was exciting but as long as nothing breaks you'll be fine. Apr 26, 2005
Sam Lightner, Jr.
Lander, WY
Sam Lightner, Jr.   Lander, WY
Keep in mind that the belay at the end of pitch two has only 1 angle... you need to have a #4 or #5 friend there to back it up. If you had a few extra 3.5 inch pieces you could skip this belay and go to the base of the face pitch, making it a 3 pitch climb and saving some time. Oct 14, 2006
Bill and I climbed this a year or two ago and thought it was a stellar route. Bill lead pitch 2 and hucked a basket ball sized rock out of the bottom of the slot(I guess it was in his way?). I linked pitches 3 and 4, not to steal Bills lead but because I didn't see a fixed belay, and did not have gear for an anchor, oh who am i joking I wanted to steal Bills lead. This was an ok option, but the rope drag was not that great. When we did this route we expected a bunch of offwidth, but were pleasantly surprised to find a great route with minimal wide stuff. Oct 23, 2006
Bill Grasse
Carbondale, CO.
Bill Grasse   Carbondale, CO.
Jerk! Stealing my lead! (I'm talking to Ben K.) The Basketball sized block was the one seen below Jeff Achey in the picture in the Indian Creek guide. I grabbed it and it fell into my lap. So, It's now gone making the move a little harder? Anyway, it was a great route, or at least as good as it can be when someone steals your lead! Just joking Ben.

Bill Feb 26, 2007
Great route!!! As George Lowe mentions we also noticed the tower block on top of pitch one has some play. We combined the last 2 pitches in one also because no anchor showed when leading the 3rd pitch. We summited the south tower & found one crappy bolt at the top of the King of Pain South summit tower. Nothing you would want to rap from.

I would not recommend rapping down this route. It only has 1 fixed drilled angle at the top of pitch 1 & 2. Also I believe it has lots of potential for ropes getting stuck. A better way to descend is to cross over to the north summit of King of Pain. You will find nice anchors, 4 bolts, to rap from on the north end down to the notch between it & Bridger Jack Butte. Once in the notch move north again up to anchors at the base of BJ Butte. Once you are in the notch it is 2 more rappels to get you down without any danger of bad anchors or ropes getting stuck.

That is how we descended & I was very glad we found this option vs descending the route. Much better descent option. Mar 20, 2007
how was climbing the south tower from the notch between the 2? Mar 21, 2007
had a great time on the route in april '07.
here is a link to our TR:
P.S. the blocks at P1 did not move at all when we climbed the route, maybe they've shifted. Apr 15, 2007
andrew kulmatiski
logan, ut
andrew kulmatiski   logan, ut
Climbed this feb. '08. The block on top of p1 could/should be pushed off - it was a rockin'. There is also a really sketchy block about 40' up p2 that looks like it dropped recently (lots of fresh sand) and if it comes out all the way its likely to cut the rope and injure the belayer - some cleaning is needed. I thought p1 was 5.11 (by the way go lt of the first block and rt of the second), p2 was 5.10-, p3 5.11, and p4 5.8 r/x. spectacular moves at the end of p2 and p4. Feb 20, 2008
Mitch Musci
Estes Park, CO
Mitch Musci   Estes Park, CO
Question about pitch 4: we climbed THROUGH a tight squeeze that separates the two summits, then climbed toward the north summit from the backside. The climbing seemed reasonable though ill-protected and worked out just fine, but I am still unsure if this is the actual route. Does this sound right or do you head up BEFORE squeezing between the two summits (I remember I had to take gear off my harness and hand it to my partner before I could fit through the squeeze) Apr 26, 2008
Wasatch Back, UT
drewford   Wasatch Back, UT
As the IC guidebook says - BURLY Apr 2, 2009
J. Thompson
denver, co
  5.11- PG13
J. Thompson   denver, co
  5.11- PG13
Pitch 1 felt 5.11- to me....every other pitch the rating seemed right on. I didn't think the 4th pitch was all that runout.
Also as stated above....you can link pitch 3 and 4 with a 60M. However you need a couple of cams in the .75 camalot range, at least. I ended up pulling up the tagg line and using it as a very long cordelette to the rap anchor.
Also I went right side in on pitch 2...it worked well.

I reread the comments above and wanted to add another note about pitch 1. i didn't think the crux was in the section where the crack becomes .75 cam size.
The first 20-25ft where considerably smaller....like yellow alien and then red....that's where I thought the crux was.
josh Apr 26, 2009
San Juans, CO
chosspector   San Juans, CO
King of Pain can be rappelled with one 70M rope. Oct 8, 2009
Mike   Phoenix
What a stellar route! Airy moves, wild position, incredible views, and cracks from fingers thru chimney. I struggled the most with the OW moves shortly before the end of P2.

We rapped the route with a single 72 meter rope, and just barely made it on the first rap. Nov 5, 2009
flagstaff, AZ
  5.10d PG13
markguycan   flagstaff, AZ
  5.10d PG13
Wild and Strenuous. P2 OW was the crux. our gear was reasonable: 1ea 0.4-1", 2ea 0.75-#1camalot, 3ea #2-#4 (1 #3.5), 1 #5new size. plus a few nuts and at least 6 slings. We had two ropes but agree that 1 70M would have worked. Nov 6, 2010
Matthew Johnson
Mounds View, MN
Matthew Johnson   Mounds View, MN
Just climbed this in Mar '11 and the block on top of p1 is still moving. However someone has clearly marked "death block" at the base on a stone for a reminder. Also, if you don't want to link p3 and p4 there are plenty of chock stones in the back crack of the alcove that can be girth hitched since a fixed anchor isn't present. Apr 7, 2011
  5.10d PG13
Tommey-James   Boulder,Colorado
  5.10d PG13
I thought that pulling the bulge on the 3rd pitch was the physcial crux. I laid back the OW and physcially it was not too bad at all but it is very commiting, doing it true off width style would be very tuff Jul 26, 2011
Alexander Nees
Grand Junction, CO
Alexander Nees   Grand Junction, CO
This is a great climb... but unfortunately I can't recommend it to anyone. There are simply too many loose, dangerous blocks on this route, most of which also threaten the belayer. I really enjoyed it, and it has a lot of good interesting climbing, but it felt too much like russian roulette. I won't do it again.

As of late May 2012, the deathblock tally is as follows:
(A) The refrigerator-sized rocker block at the top of Pitch 1, which is actually the most solid of the collection. It sounds hollow and is definitely detached, but didn't actually move when touched.
(B) A microwave-sized block in the awkward squeeze about 10 feet above the belay on Pitch 3 (before you reach the crux bulges). This one rotated 270 degrees when my follower touched it, and is definitely ready to go at the slightest provocation. There are other smaller loose blocks in this section as well.
(C) There is an oven-sized block at the top of Pitch 3 (the optional belay at the notch between the North and South summits). This one has "No belay" scratched into it, since it's tempting to wrap it with cord and set up your belay there. It's loose and hollow, and sand trickles out when it is pulled on.
(D) There is a large loose flake on Pitch 4, where you pull out of the weird stem between the towers and commit to the face on the North summit. It expands when pulled on, and is directly above your belayer. Kitchen tabletop-sized, to continue the metaphor?

Summary: This climb has blocks the size of a fridge, oven, microwave, and tabletop, plus an assortment of smaller appliance-sized chunks. You could fully outfit your newly remodeled kitchen on this climb!... and then use those fancy appliances to kill your belayer. Blocks threaten the belayer at the base, at the top of pitch 2, and at the top of pitch 3.

I've never said this about a route before, but Vision Quest really needs someone to climb it, trundle all the loose stuff, and fix the anchors (bolted anchors, not single drilled pins).

For those who choose to do this route anyway... a single 70m rope works well for the descent. Rap #1: knot your ends, then rap into the notch between King of Pain and Bridger Jack Butte. You'll have to unclip from the rope and walk over to the anchor, but it's on a mellow ledge. A 60m will NOT work... but there is an intermediate rap station that could be used. The bolts look okay, but bring some fresh webbing for the anchor. Rap #2 & #3: Straightforward ~100 foot rappels to good bolted stations. With a 60m, Rap #2 would be VERY close, and I don't guarantee that it would reach. Knot your ends for sure. May 31, 2012
Awesome route. I remember sitting at the base after finishing and watching two really tough guys in the midst of an attempt to climb all the summits at the Jacks in one day. The leader pulled open a massive jar of ravioli and just shoveled it down then cast off the layback on pitch one. His partner put him on belay on the trail rope accidentally. The leader got up into the crux, I noticed the error, and told the belayer. He yelled to the leader and told him what was up. Without pause, he just laughed and said "well how about putting me on belay then." He finished the pitch, they finished the route and I saw their headlamps hours later as they reached the final summit. Oct 10, 2012
ben jammin
Moab, UT
ben jammin   Moab, UT

Take a lookie.

Vision Quest anchor forum

It doesn't matter to me who does it, I just hope they stick with the consensus of minimal bolting. Oct 17, 2012
Kevin DB
  5.10d PG13
Kevin DB  
  5.10d PG13
Yeah, that is a rad climb. I thought the chimney was the crux, definitely the whole thing is a little burlier 5.10 then you normally find at the creek. The top pitch is fine, just keep your head together and don't fall and it's pretty solid and very enjoyable climbing. Fun fun fun. Dec 21, 2012
Hank Caylor
Glenwood Springs, CO
Hank Caylor   Glenwood Springs, CO  
This route now has either two bolts at each belay or a bolt and I left the existing pin. So there's 2 good anchors at each belay and yes, you can bring more gear and try to improve the anchors further, either way. There's no rings on this route as we all know the rappels are on the other side of the summit.. Crazy blocks seem to be all gone now, done, have fun folks. Fucking BURLY for a 10+!

The rappel is already in good shape, take a little webbing and improve on the old tat factor. Jun 1, 2014
Lyle Harte
Lyle Harte   Denver
Just in case anyone is curious, the slung chockstone at the base of the second pod on pitch 2 is good for a 25 footer. Not tested by choice. Oct 31, 2016
Big Bert
Golden, Colorado
Big Bert   Golden, Colorado
Bring 3x .4's for the first 40feet of fingers...It'll make you feel nice and tingly as you fly through the hardest part of the route. Nov 1, 2017
Steve Smith
Steve Smith   Durango
Pitches 3 & 4 can be linked with a 70m and rope drag was not an issue. Jan 3, 2018
Spencer Weiler
Salt Lake city
Spencer Weiler   Salt Lake city
A few notes:
P1- 3 each of .4/.5 camalots were very nice to have on the bottom half of this pitch. Save your #4 camalot for after the small roof, as it will be tempting to ditch it just below the roof.
P2- First Chimney 15' off the belay is pretty secure. Pulling out of it felt a bit harder. 3 #3 and a #4 were essential for the wide hands up to the 2nd and crux OW. Liebacking the first 5-6' of the OW with decent feet was awesome, with a nice obvious transition point to climb inside. Good hands to the belay follows.
P3- Short pitch. More awkward wideness off the belay leads to good wide hands and then hands through the bulge.
P4- By far the most fun pitch of the climb. Wide hands/hands in flared corner off the belay leads to jungle blocks, before tunneling through a tight squeeze(take off your helmet) to the other side of the towers. Then up to the N summit using really fun stemming between the two towers and face holds with pretty good gear opportunities. Stepping over to the S summit block would be easy as well. Only move that requires some cajones was the last one before the top, but there is a really bomber yellow camalot placement at your waist. No bolted anchor available for a belay, so we slung the chockstone.
Rack: 2 each .3, then triples .4-#3 camalot, 1-2 #4 camalot. We brought the #5 but didn't find it useful or essential the few times we placed it. Like others have said, the first rap into the notch between Bridger Jack and KOP was a full 35m. The next two raps weren't quite so close. 3 in total, not 4 like I thought. Great climb! Oct 26, 2018