The Headache 5.10a

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.21101°N / 112.95981°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10a (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


From the south entrance of the park drive towards the Mt. Carmel Tunnel on Highway 9. Before you get to the tunnel park on the right side of the road at a large pullout at the last switchback (which is the same place to park for the Confluence area). Do not go into the tunnel. Hike to the tunnel on the road and walk around and above it on the left side and head uphill for about 50 yards on a small trail. The route appears on your right with an incredible splitter crack start. There are a few small trees right at the base. Some nationally recognized climbers have said this to be the best handcrack in Utah so expect to wait on nice weekends. It can also be climbed in summer since it is on a northeast facing cliff and gets shade from about 10am on.

Headache, II, 5.10
Looking up the first pitch rated 5.9+

Headache, II, 5.10
Climbing the classic hand-crack on pitch 1

The Headache
View of the first pitch in the shade

Route Description

According to guide books this is one of the best free climbs in the park (To which I agree). The Headache is a three pitch climb with bolted belay anchors rated 5.10a

Pitch 1 - 100 feet Start with a sustained but spectacular splitter crack. The crack takes lots of #2 camalots. Jam and smile until you get to the offwidth before the anchors. A good arm-bar supplemented with a #4 camalot followed by a high reach with your right arm will get you to the anchors. There are also some face features to the right you can use to reach the anchor. This is a very sustained hand crack pitch.

Pitch 2 - 140 feet Continue the sustained crack system as is follows the corner and becomes very exposed near an arete. Looking down from this pitch is awesome! An interesting face move (to the right) will get you under a roof. Pull-up through the roof with marginal jams and keep jamming as best as you can to the anchors which is pretty pumpy. There is one bolt below the room you can use to protect but the crack is perfect for cams.

Pitch 3 - 150 feet Perhaps the hardest pitch since the last move is tricky however most of this pitch is positive angled. From the anchors traverse left towards the tree and continue with the ever thinning crack until you get to the alcove which will get your head stuck in it (this is the reason why the route is called The Headache). This is the crux where you need to place a #2 camalot in the crack deep in the alcove and make an awkward move to get out of it and into the left leaning crack slightly above it. Place another #1 camalot and reach the anchors just abve.

Descent Make two double rope rappels from bolted anchors to the left of the route. We used 60m twin ropes which are recommended.

Headache 2nd pitch
Dow Williams leading 2nd pitch of Headache

Headache, II, 5.10
Looking up at the third pitch and the tree midway up

Headache 3rd pitch
3rd pitch of Headache gives you a headache...notice the hole at the top

Essential Gear

Four or five #2 camalots and one #4 camalot for the first pitch. At least doubles of #0.5, 0.75, 1 and 3 camalots. Set of nuts and TCUs from blue to red or aliens from green to red. You need two ropes to get down.

East Temple
East Temple as seen from the Headache climb

External Links

Dow's great description of the route can be found HERE

Mountain Project description HERE

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Alex Wood

Alex Wood - Nov 13, 2013 6:02 pm - Voted 10/10

Harder Than That

Pretty sure this thing is 5.10+. Maybe I need to get burlier...

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Nov 13, 2013 8:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Harder Than That

Nope...third pitch crux at the very top is a 10a maaaybe a 10b according to Dow. Pitch 1 and 2 are 5.9 and 5.10a respectively

Alex Wood

Alex Wood - Nov 14, 2013 12:19 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Harder Than That

It is hand sized dependent I would say. I generally don't like to tag a letter to a rating when the climb's hardest moves are characterized by a crack sequence. I thought it was harder and most agree. Speaking of crack, I'll be in Utah at the end of the month. You going to be around?

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