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Headache, The T 
Migraine, The T 

The Headache 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 380', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Brian Smith & Dana Geary, 1975
Page Views: 26,383
Submitted By: Jakester on Mar 23, 2003

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see arturo dominate the headache

Seasonal Raptor Closures ***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. 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
Rock Climbing Photo: Splitter
BETA PHOTO: Splitter
Rock Climbing Photo: The Headache
The Headache
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Sokoloff on the first pitch of the Headache.
Mike Sokoloff on the first pitch of the Headache.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mmmm...yellow camalots...  The Headache, first pit...
Mmmm...yellow camalots... The Headache, first pit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3 finish
Pitch 3 finish
Rock Climbing Photo: Russ on the awesome spliter start
Russ on the awesome spliter start
Rock Climbing Photo: Perin Blanchard and Lee Jensen on the third pitch ...
Perin Blanchard and Lee Jensen on the third pitch ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Local flora at the base
Local flora at the base
Rock Climbing Photo: A pea in a pod
A pea in a pod
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of the route.
BETA PHOTO: Start of the route.
Rock Climbing Photo: third pitch of the headache goes in the left crack...
BETA PHOTO: third pitch of the headache goes in the left crack...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lee and Perin at the P2 anchor on May 15, 2010.
Lee and Perin at the P2 anchor on May 15, 2010.
Rock Climbing Photo: The final crux moves on Headache...
The final crux moves on Headache...
Rock Climbing Photo: second pitch of the headache
second pitch of the headache
Rock Climbing Photo: All 3 pitches of this badboy
All 3 pitches of this badboy
Rock Climbing Photo: unknown climber
unknown climber
Rock Climbing Photo: unknown climber
unknown climber
Rock Climbing Photo: Dean is following the bomber hands on P2
Dean is following the bomber hands on P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Sarting up das Last pitch
Sarting up das Last pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the thin hands cruxes on P3
One of the thin hands cruxes on P3

Comments on The Headache Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 10, 2017
By Joe Auer
From: Moab, Utah
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: Bozeman, MT
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
From: Sandy
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 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
General Admin
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
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Apr 13, 2015

Awesome story and achievement Brian!

Two 50 meters ropes work fine for the two raps.
By Austin Sobotka
From: Tucson, AZ
Mar 20, 2016
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Did it on almost all passive gear (5 cams placed in total) and could have done it all on passive had I brought more slings. Every pitch eats nuts and hexes. Don't bother with the big stuff.
By Joshua Munoz
May 17, 2016
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

A sweet multi pitch route. All 3 pitches seemed stout but at a 5.10 grade level. Pitch one was tough going through the crack and just after. Pitch two was an endurance route. And pitch three was both burley and sustained.

Look for the rap anchors just below and to the climbers left at the belay ledge of the 3rd pitch. Two 2 rope rappel and you're back to the ground.
By GDavis
May 28, 2016

Second pitch makes me rethink going to Joshua Tree in Winter.
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Jun 7, 2016
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

Only did the first 2 pitches because of time constraint but SUPER CLASSIC! one of the most fun I've had on a short multi-pitch route. Should be on your top 3 list to do here if not doing a big wall.

Andy's gear beta is spot on.

Did this in June and it gets afternoon shade this time of the year.

Rappel options if only doing the 2 pitches...2nd pitch doesn't end at a tree with slings, it ends on a comfortable ledge with a bolted anchor. You can rap straight to the ground from here using 2 60m ropes OR do two raps with a 70M to the ground. 1 60M rope will NOT reach 2nd pitch belay anchor.
By Travis Haussener
Sep 26, 2016

You may find yourself onsiting 375 ft. of this route only to end up pumped and pulling on gear to finish the last five...not that that happened to me or anything. Bring 4 (0.75 for the last pitch), 2 would require serious bumping and backcleaning (I know). A small gray C4 will fit perfect on the crux of the "bouldery" second pitch, you'll figure it out.

If you really had to, you could do it with a single 70 BUT you'd have to down-aid some easy stuff on the last pitch and then rap the route...just bring two ropes
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Oct 18, 2016

placed all cams, up to double BD #3, with extra 0.75 and #2. brought stoppers along but hadn't bothered with, not really needed
By Chris Mutzel
From: Seattle, Washington
Dec 2, 2016

Great to do this in one 330ft pitch if you are into that sort of thing. Its very straight up and down, and a lot of gear can be found in-line, avoiding the need for lots of runners. Placed a micro-traxion on the anchors on top of pitch 2.

Extras in .5-#2 are helpful for this, but you can place just about anything you bring. .5 - #3 all work to protect the final moves.
By Ben Sachs
May 15, 2017

The 2nd rappel anchor on the rap route has a loose bolt that wiggles in its hole, and should be replaced. I am only passing through and can't do it myself sadly.
By greyson
From: SLC, UT
Jun 10, 2017
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

You can do a single rope raps if you have an 80m rope. 70m misses the chains by about 15 feet.

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