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East Face Gully aka Silk Road 
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East Face Gully aka Silk Road 

WI3 M5 R

   
Type:  Mixed, Ice, 5 pitches, 600', Grade III
Consensus: WI3 M5 [details]
FA: 
Season: Winter
Page Views: 6,541
Submitted By: Ben Collett on Jan 12, 2007

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Kelly Carignan on Silk Road, near midnight during ...

Description 

This route climbs the gully on the far right side of the east face of the First Flatiron. In excellent condition, this route would be trivial, however more normal conditions will require some rock climbing, some sketchy climbing on snice, some thin ice and some proper mixed climbing. Figure out how to get off the ground and into the bottom of the gully. Cruise up this with little in the way of protection until you reach a nice big patch of shady snow where the gully widens. A rock belay can be found here. The next pitch may well be the crux. Climb up a right-facing corner with some thin ice and to a belay at a tree. Pull past this tree into another snowpatch. From here, we climbed into the corner on the right side of the gully and rock climbed easily to the top. From the top of the gully, one may continue to the top of the 1st Flatiron or just drop over the other side of the ridge and walk back down.

All in all, this is a satisfying Flatiron experience.

Protection 

Rock gear from nuts to hand size.


Photos of East Face Gully aka Silk Road Slideshow Add Photo
1st pitch of Silk Road 1/21/07. Good stuff!!
1st pitch of Silk Road 1/21/07. Good stuff!!
Eddie finishing up the fun first pitch in mid-December, 2013. The belay is located at the first small snowfield, about 200' up.
Eddie finishing up the fun first pitch in mid-Dece...
The first pitch of The Silk Road, taken 1-20-07.  The pitch climbs up an ice and snow runnel then traverses right across a rock slab to gain a second ice runnel.  Protection through the very delicate traverse leaves a little to be desired.
The first pitch of The Silk Road, taken 1-20-07. ...
Approaching the base of the gully and the start of the climb.  The start of the First Flatiron rock climb is down and to the right.
Approaching the base of the gully and the start of...
Looking down second pitch past large flake.  The climbing here was challenging with no bonded ice underneath snow.  Required tenuous pick-locks and awkward lie-back technique with crampons.
Looking down second pitch past large flake. The c...
The Silk Road on 1-20-07.  The route taken has been drawn in but you may have to zoom in to see it.  We climbed three pitches to gain the standard east face route, then continued to the summit.  Rock shoes where a help for the upper pitches.
BETA PHOTO: The Silk Road on 1-20-07. The route taken has bee...
Working up ledges 3rd pitch, delaminated ice.
Working up ledges 3rd pitch, delaminated ice.
Mark ?? climbing alternate finish to Silk Road.
Mark ?? climbing alternate finish to Silk Road.
First Flatiron conditions on 10 Feb. of 2011.  The face is completely covered with snow, along with route.
First Flatiron conditions on 10 Feb. of 2011. The...
East face of 1st Flatiron w/ lots of ice.  Silk Road is on right side of photo with a couple of other ice runnels/possible new climbs in the center.  The continuous, long ribbon just left of Silk Road was all rotten and would be pretty sketchy.
East face of 1st Flatiron w/ lots of ice. Silk Ro...
Chris Sheridan loving the crux pitch of the Silk Road in the winter of '07. Photo by Hunter Enochs.
Chris Sheridan loving the crux pitch of the Silk R...
Kimberely following 1st pitch.  This was a 60m rope stretcher with no pro.  Thin but adequate ice on lower section and consolidated snow on upper part of pitch.
Kimberely following 1st pitch. This was a 60m rop...
Chris leading the second pitch of the Silk Road during the winter of '07.  Photo by Hunter Enochs.
Chris leading the second pitch of the Silk Road du...
First moves up thin ice sheet.
First moves up thin ice sheet.
The second pitch, thin and disappearing quickly (12/13). We switched over to climbing shoes at this point and finished up and right.
The second pitch, thin and disappearing quickly (1...
A 60m rope stretcher to end the first pitch.
A 60m rope stretcher to end the first pitch.
Silk Road.
Silk Road.
View of east face of 1st Flatiron, 12/31/09.  Lots of ice!
BETA PHOTO: View of east face of 1st Flatiron, 12/31/09. Lots...
Crux of pitch three.
Crux of pitch three.

Comments on East Face Gully aka Silk Road Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 15, 2014
By Zach Allen
Jan 14, 2007
rating: WI3 M5 R

Really an awesome route. The conditions window for it is extremely short, so if you think it might be "in", get up there.

I recall wishing for a #3.5 or 4 (old style) Camalot for the wide layback to the tree belay. Other than that, just your standard Flatirons ice rack. Heh!
By jessicai95
Jan 15, 2007

Hey. I thought you guys might like this video on the Silk Road :

travelistic.com/video/show/198...
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 30, 2009

In the summer this is the route East Face Gully.
By Asymptote
From: Lawrenceville, GA
Jan 31, 2009

Ha Ha. That video is nice but the wrong Silk Road.
I climbed SR 2 years ago. It was thin but fun. Much thinner than the tr on here. The start along the side of the big boulder is tricky with crampons and ice tools but after that it's nice up to the tiny cicle crux. If you shorten the 3rd pitch then both the 2nd and 3rd have great belays tucked back under a ridge. Good pro slinging the tree. Used a few cams and a nut or two for the whole route. After the crux, we went left to the large ledge and then up the face and topped the ridge by the little tree just a couple of gendarmes away from the summit.
By jack roberts
Feb 19, 2010

As George stated, this route has been known for over 50 years as the East Face Gully NOT Silk Road. It is wrong and incorrect to assign another name for this route just because it has also been climbed as an ice/mixed route.
By Ben Collett
Feb 20, 2010

Jack, I just used the name from your old guidebook. I think that it is kind of nice to have a separate name for these routes as ice routes because scratching up them on a cold winter's day is a remarkably different experience than cruising up it in a pair of rock shoes on a warm summer evening. You also frequently end up climbing slightly different features. That said, I would be happy to change the name.
By Captain America
From: Longmont, CO
Feb 17, 2011

Climbed this gully on Feb. 10, 2011. Full 60m runout to first belay, no pro, but easy climbing on good ice, snow. Second pitch, with no ice, required awkward layback behind flakes to trees. Our next pitch took us past the ledges (delaminated ice) where we chose to traverse to a tree (right of route) and start descent.

Overall, a great outing, I'd like to try this again when there is more ice and continue to the top!
By Casey Graham
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 3, 2012

Anyone know if this is in right now and what the ice quality is?
By Ben Collett
May 13, 2012

During an amble up the east face of the First this morning, I noticed a ton of crampon marks on the north ridge. It seems to me that there should be a dialogue about whether it is appropriate to be climbing the north ridge in crampons. The north ridge is enjoyed by lots of people. The rock is relatively soft, so it is easily affected by crampons and there is a pretty natural way to get off Silk Road without heading to the summit. I think that it would probably be best to preserve the condition of the rock on the north ridge. For some perspective, perhaps we should look to the UK where it is considered a faux pas to climb classic rock routes as mixed routes unless they are completely white with rime. I think a similar perspective makes sense on something here that is as well travelled as the north ridge of the First Flatiron so the thousands of people that climb it every summer can enjoy it.
By George Bracksieck
Feb 2, 2013

I share Ben Collett's concern here, regarding crampon scratches in the rock of the North Arete (or anywhere that is a popular, or even non-popular, rock route). When Kirk Miller and I did Silk Road in late Jan. 2007, we exited right, a pitch above the end of the gully, and found an established rap anchor, allowing us to do one 60-foot (?) rap to the ground from the ridge. I admit that our frontpoints hit rock at times during our climb.
By T. Maino
Mar 27, 2013

I've always wondered if this is a problem. Do you think there is damage to the rest of the route as well?
By phil broscovak
Feb 15, 2014

Here is a trip report from a recent ascent of Silk Road:

supertopo.com/tr/The-Silk-Road...