Type: Boulder, 12 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 5,137 total · 46/month
Shared By: JSlack on Nov 16, 2009
Admins: andy patterson, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

39 Opinions

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Sit start with the left hand in a good hueco and the right on a decent edge. Move up and right on amazing slopers with some toe-hook trickery.


Crash Pads


andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
This problem is graded V7 in Bob Banks' guidebook. The general consensus amongst locals is that Smooth Criminal clocks in somewhere between V5 and V6. This is, after all, Santa Barbara sandstone (not a geological term), and the character of holds is always in flux. Maybe it used to be harder, maybe it didn't, but either way, take the grade with a grain of salt. Apr 18, 2010
Rob Riggleman
Santa Barbara, CA
Rob Riggleman   Santa Barbara, CA
This problem felt like it took me *ages* to put together even knowing the beta. I must have had a mental block on it or something, because once I finally got it, it didn't seem too bad. That said, I still have more trouble with this thing than any of the other "V5"s around. Maybe it just plays to my weaknesses..

I have heard that both the sloper side-pull and the good crimp used to be worse, and the problem has gotten a little harder in the past week or two. The decent undercling that you could use to check the swing as you came around the corner is no more. Apr 19, 2010
Rob Gordon
Hollywood, CA
Rob Gordon   Hollywood, CA
Haven't linked the whole thing yet (gassed on the upper easy portion 3 times after working the start for a couple hours in a miserably cold wind), but I think V6 is by no means a soft rating. That being said, V7 seems high for something I was able to work in one session. I found a heel toe to work better for me than a toe hook. Can't wait to get back to SB and send this wicked problem. May 10, 2010
Sean Denny
Sean Denny   Irvine
With the undercling broken I still don't think this quite V7, but very close to it. IMO the movement on the bottom section has drastically changed and what was once a two-move "establish-and-throw" sequence is now just a "throw-and-hold-on-for-dear-life" sequence.
I think I like it better now, despite the fact that I no longer feel that it lives up to its name. Aug 18, 2010
A couple things about Smooth Criminal to explain why it is V7 in O11.

1. The crimp that you throw out to has undergone many states of good/bad. Originally, it was a really thin crimp, very difficult to stick and hard to pull off of. Over the years it has broken into different sizes of good and bad and settled into what is now a very good incut.
2. the undercling to check that swing was never used in any early ascents that I saw (we were too dumb). Apparently it's gone now, but it was never a factor on the original grade.
3. The sloper on the left arete has an edge for the fingertips that mysteriously appeared a few years ago, kind of around the time Call Me got chipped, which made it really suspicious. Hard to say though if it was chipped, or if it eroded like that, but that sucker originally was super smooth.

That said, I'd call it V5, but more importantly, it's still one of the best problems in Santa Barbara in my eyes. Sep 2, 2010
andy patterson
Carpinteria, CA
andy patterson   Carpinteria, CA  
V5 in good conditions. V-Awful in hot, late August conditions.

Do yourself a favor and don't try this problem in the sun of a scorching afternoon. Aug 27, 2011
Trevor V.
Santa Barbara, Ca
Trevor V.   Santa Barbara, Ca
After sending it today in average conditions I would call it V6. On a cool dry morning I would say it could be V5. The undercling bob was talking about is still usable but very small, but the problem is harder without it. Feb 23, 2012
Oceanside, Ca
nds   Oceanside, Ca
Awesome problem. In my opinion it fits the v6 grade. Power in the beginning to subtle technical balance in the end. I didn't use "the undercling" and honestly don't think it would have been any easier with it. Set your left hand up and stand up to the crimp. No swing required. Dec 7, 2012
For the record Dave Hunt and Niel Crancer put up this awesome problem.One of there friends was doing a dance routine to Micheal Jackson's song Smooth Criminal at the time so this is how the name came to be. Bob is right about the rating because the problem has drastically changed over the years and most likely has been chipped.
I think it has lost a star or two, but that is just my opinion. Neil told me that he no longer climbs this problem, and is still pretty mad about it being altered. Jul 11, 2013
Jon Hartmann
Ojai, CA
Jon Hartmann   Ojai, CA
So..... Is there any way to get the pof off the right hand starting hold or are we just stuck with a little bit of France in our backyard? Mar 15, 2014
Please refrain from brushing the holds on this problem, and others on sandstone. It erodes the holds, permanently changing the climb. The climb is very enjoyable and doable the way it is, coming in at solid V5 or soft V6. Wonderful line, let's keep it that way! Nov 29, 2014
There is nothing wrong with brushing holds, as long as you use a soft brush and an appropriate amount of pressure. In general, holds should be brushed regularly to prevent buildup of chalk. The best thing we can do to prevent hold erosion and breakage is keep our climbing shoes clean and wait for the rock to dry after rain. Dec 2, 2014
Sean Crozier
Oxnard, CA
  V0 X
Sean Crozier   Oxnard, CA
  V0 X
Anyone down-climbed Smooth Criminal yet? This would be difficult, also if anyone can then link it into Bandito, there's $5US up for grabs to the first person with video proof... Sep 30, 2015
C Miller   CA  
Beta video:
Mar 5, 2017
Tony Shiao
Santa Barbara
Tony Shiao   Santa Barbara
Guys, bad news; the right starting hold (the glassy crimp) has blown out. I'm sure the problem still goes, but the first move, especially for the crossers out there, is now more difficult. I've added this to my to-do list for if I ever invent a time machine. Until then, we must trudge on. Mar 19, 2017
Marcus LaCavera
Goleta, CA
Marcus LaCavera   Goleta, CA
Still goes! Went up there last night - 3 people in our group all topped it by using the grainy area where the start used to be. The "good" part is now much closer, but there is also a usable small crimp a little past where the break was. Mar 20, 2017
Duke Lettieri
Santa Barbara, CA
Duke Lettieri   Santa Barbara, CA
Smooth Criminal seems to keep falling apart. For those who used the undercling, it is now gone. May 6, 2017