Smooth as Silk
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$eth contemplating the crux of Smooth as Silk (5.7...
Smooth as Silk can be divided into two distinct sections. The lower section involves bouldery moves off the ground to a short hand traverse before easing off into a lower angle slab. The upper section ascends a splitter finger crack up a very smooth, relatively low angle slab. A small scoop at the base of this second section complicates getting onto the slab and provides the crux of the route.
Smooth as Silk is located around the corner from the Freeway Wall, on the end of the buttress that faces the road. The upper slab is plainly visible from the car as you approach the parking area on the Lost Horse Road. A short boulder scramble gets you to the base.
Thin rack to #2 Camalot (even that may be bigger than you'll need). This climb sews up beautifully with nuts and TCUs.
BETA PHOTO: View of Silkworm and Smooth as Silk
Ilana doing the tricky start moves
Nathan leading Smooth as Silk.
Scott on the finishing rail - sweet.
|Comments on Smooth as Silk
From: Newport Beach
Nov 12, 2003
I hate to up-rate climbs but this is definitely a 5.8. You can rap from the slings with a 50m rope.
|By Brian Reynolds|
Nov 18, 2003
I disagree -- it felt hard to me the first time I tried to climb it, but that was because I'd never climbed outside JT and I didn't know how to climb a finger crack. On the second try, my technique was better and 5.7 felt right on -- definitely more than one grade easier than the 2nd pitch of Central Pillar of Frenzy in Yosemite, which I think of as a benchmark for the grade. The toughest part was getting out of the scoop coming off the ramp, but once you figure out the sequence of (slightly muscly) moves, the rest of the climb goes fine.
Dec 29, 2003
it could be that my upper body is out of shape or my form is not as strong as I'd supposed. I thought this route's crux was harder than the hardest moves on Sail Away. however, I think that the main crack section was very clean and aesthetic. you might choose to take up webbing to back up the rap slings.
|By Chrys Mitchell|
Jan 7, 2004
Regarding AJ's comments on not being able to find False Smooth as Silk: A couple of months ago I studied the end of Filipino Wall trying to identify False Smooth as silk. On the right side of the wall's end (facing the road)is a wide crack I'd seen several parties climbing, and on the left side are two thin cracks, one a little above and left of the other. I think those thin cracks are the route. Last week I decided to climb the route, expecting to be able to positively identify it in response to AJ's asking if it's a red Herring. After I got back down to the road, though, and looked back at the rock, I realized I'd climbed the wide crack (or rather, the face next to the wide crack)that I'd seen other people climb. I still think the route is in the thin cracks to the left, but it seems the natural approach line through the boulders takes you to a little headwall below the base of the wide crack. I think it might be possible to traverse left to the thin cracks from the tree at the base of the wide crack--or it might be necessary to work out a less obvious approach up the left side of the boulders. This may be more work than the route is worth, but next time I'm in Josh I'm going to try to get to those thin cracks. The mystery has me hooked. By the way, the route I did climb (bypassing the wide section of the right-hand crack by the face on its right and eventually traversing left to the crack above the thin cracks) is an easy but enjoyable route.
|By Dee Why|
May 10, 2005
This is a cool little route--a good way to start or finish the day. You can do a harder direct start by bearhugging the small "buttress" to the NW of what I think is the proper start, hopping up to a small ledge, putting in pro [a .4 cam], then sidepulling the crack while smearing up the face. If that's the correct start, then 5.7 is a real sandbag. The crux of the main finger crack [in fact, off-fingers] is easier if you stem as high as possible before laybacking the crack. As of 5/7/05, there were good slings and 2 rap rings at the top.
|By Bob Gaines|
May 11, 2005
The direct start (the right-slanting crack to the left of the gully) is about 5.9, with an interesting "bear hug" crux.
|By David Wang|
From: San Francisco, CA
Nov 5, 2006
I definitely think this climb is 5.8. I have fairly regular sized hands and the entrance to the proper crack has 2 - 3 moves at a very awkward size for me.
|By Darren D.|
Mar 28, 2007
A boulder problem to a finger splitter crack. A nice climb.
|By Will S|
From: Joshua Tree
Mar 30, 2007
A beautiful, clean, mirror-smooth slab with a fingercrack, barely two minutes from the car...if it were 5 times as long it would be an all time classic. The crux is probably the first move or two off the ground or possibly the entry moves into the upper finger crack. The finger crack is more technical than it looks. I remember expecting to just plug in perfect finger locks and being surprised. Takes good gear, easy to find, rap off.
Edit: As a sidenote, this has been up-rated to 5.8 in the new Vogel Joshua Tree West guide.
|By Bill Olszewski|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 8, 2007
Sweet finger crack! If only it were about three times longer... I'd give it more stars.
|By Mark L|
Apr 30, 2007
The slightly overhung finger lock crux is partly finger size dependent. My fingers are possibly bigger than most folks and I had a painful insecure time getting through the crux. Plenty of pro at the crux though so you wont go anywhere.
Once above the crux (getting into the crack) it gets wider and face edges (for feet) are there if you dont want to practice keeping your feet in the crack - Less painful but less interesting.
Theres always webbing and rap rings hanging from a horn at the top but eyeball it before heading up.
From: Palm Desert, CA
Nov 11, 2009
Found the webbing that we were planning to rap off of... but decided it needed a little more TLC. We added a little redundancy with another quick link and rap rings to ensure a safer rappel.
|By Kimberly Segasser|
Dec 1, 2009
Great crack at the top, but the direct start is really hard if you are not tall enough to do the "bear hug" move. I am only about 5' and the bottom felt MUCH harder then 5.7.
|By Chris Owen|
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Dec 5, 2010
I enjoyed this route and feel that this moderate splitter quite unique at Joshua Tree, therefore I would recommend it to any 5.8 leader as, when at the bottom of the splitter, you're sure to think "WTF?"
|By Mary Moser|
May 8, 2011
Just donated slings and biner at the top of Smooth as Silk for the rappel. The old slings had been cut (they looked ancient, so that was a wise move). I agree the route feels more like a 5.8.