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Machine Head 

YDS: 5.11d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.11c/d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Ted Hammond 1990
Page Views: 2,475
Submitted By: lee hansche on Jan 12, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (44)
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Perfect Form! photo credit Jessica Trout-Haney


Machine Head is a short but kick ass climb with a technical less than vertical start, a steep jug haul bulge and a scary balancy mantel finish. All in a route that is only 5 bolts long.

I recommend clipping the 2nd bolt due to an awkward clipping stance and ground fall potential, but that's your call. The first moves are like the moves you find at the bottom of many routes on Waimea. not steep but all the holds are facing weird directions. After overcoming this section you hit the jugs of the Red River Gorge like central band. And now that you are pumped, head up to the dreaded mantel finish. After working it out the grade seems reasonable but on the onsight attempt it feels hard in the grade.

They only give it one star in the guide book but I think it is worthy of full marks.


The right side of the cliff. It only goes up to the midway ledge.Locate the quick clips on the wall above the ledge. The route starts right underneath.


5 bolts to quick clips

Photos of Machine Head Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Alternate right foot beta for the crux.
BETA PHOTO: Alternate right foot beta for the crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sylvain and Charles doing what they do best... cli...
Sylvain and Charles doing what they do best... cli...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sylvain relaxing after the tricky start. Dreaded m...
Sylvain relaxing after the tricky start. Dreaded m...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pump crux.
Pump crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: The start
The start
Rock Climbing Photo: This is a shot of the really cool band of strange ...
BETA PHOTO: This is a shot of the really cool band of strange ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's Dom on Machine Head.  The section below him...
Here's Dom on Machine Head. The section below him...

Comments on Machine Head Add Comment
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By Adam Conroy
From: Cambridge, MA
Mar 6, 2010

Worked this problem today for a while, didn't send but got all the moves. That mantle finish had my heart pumping and made me feel like I really pulled off something epic.

The description nails it and its minimum 3 stars here. Will reserve whether it is 3 or 4 after I send it. :)
By Jared LaVacque
From: Anchorage/Grand Junction
Apr 23, 2011
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

The 2nd bolt and most of the SMC hangers spin, which makes stick clipping difficult. The glue in bolts are solid. A really fun route in general.
By Jeffrey.LeCours
From: New Hampshire
May 12, 2013

The bolts Jared mentions have been updated
By Zane Dordai
Aug 5, 2013

classic rig. at least as hard as pulse, and in my opinion as hard as many of the 12a's I have done. either the hardest 11d ever or a soft 12a...but either way one of Rumney's best short climbs. another great non-awkward mantle finish.

beta spoiler: the dihedral definitely contained the hardest moves on the route, but the pump hits you on the mantle.
By Matt Levine
From: Concord, NH
Apr 22, 2015

I projected this for a little while this past weekend. The pre-roof sections ease up quite a bit with the right beta...the crux is in the pump at the top for me. Can't wait to get back and tick it off (hopefully...)

Fantastic route for sure.
By ward smith
Jun 16, 2015
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

Just got on this again after onsighting it 20 years ago....failed on the deja vue onsight at the mantle. The mantle is actually 5.9 if you hit it right...I didn't.

Definitely getting two stars (out of three) and 11d in the new guide, great route.
By Daniel Kaye
From: Boston, ma
Jun 26, 2017

Question about the mantel - straight up or right?

I tried both... it feels consistent in difficulty & more of a natural line to go almost straight up over the last bolt. But you can also go ~8' right of the last bolt, almost directly over the anchors of the climb to the right, which is much easier (maybe what Ward is talking about). Any idea which is intended?

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