Utah desert slots canyons are not a problem for our SOMs!
Although there is still plenty of snow on every mountain in Colorado, the Utah desert and all the fun it offers, is calling. We put on our ‘desert -only’ (forever infiltrated with Utah fine sand) SOMs, packed the camping gear and off we went.
Last weekend, Nathalie and I started our canyoneering* season with a pretty challenging yet really fun slot canyon; Chambers. As we usually do on weekends, we planned to do the longer hike on the first day. Our initial plan was to hike Lost Park on Saturday and then a shorter hike (Chambers) on Sunday morning before heading back home (a 4-hour drive). But I have to admit we chickened out when we woke up in our beautiful camping spot that Saturday morning; the weather had changed overnight and it was actually pretty cold and windy. Lost Park Canyon is supposed to hold water and the air temperature was a bit cold (to us) to play in the water. So plan B turned out to hike Chambers Canyon, which takes less time to hike (about 4 hours), and to start in the early afternoon when the sun is at its highest.
It turned out that we made a good decision and had a blast. In this video, you see one of the beautiful chambers.
Chambers Canyon is a very narrow canyon with some sections no wider than 12 inches. It is not a canyon recommended to large-frame people for the reason that it is easy to get seriously stuck - and I mean really stuck!
When we got to the crux, the canyon got so narrow - less than 10 inches wide - I started to feel claustrophobic trying to go through that section, and I realized we had to find a different way. I was glad we had the route description with us. The best way not to get stuck is to stem up about 12 feet onto a ledge to go above that too-narrow section.
I used my shoulders, knees, feet, hands, and a lot of energy to stem up those 12 feet before belaying Nathalie. By the way, it is always recommended to carry an extra, thin rope for situations like that.
Past that section, we still had to go through the canyon exit and jump into the final pool which had no water on that day, just sand. From there, it was a nice hike back up to the car on and around big knolls where one hears nothing but the desert breeze.
We had so much fun, and cannot wait to go back. The desert has so much to offer in terms of diversity, beauty, and challenges. We always remind ourselves how fragile it is and we always make sure to leave no trace.
We are telling you this story simply to answer many customers who are asking us what we do in our SOMs. We do everything we like, we don’t own other shoes anyway, so that answers the question! In our life the only limit to our SOMs is when boots and crampons are mandatory, such as when walking on glaciers. Skiing is another limit, but I have always have a pair of SOMs waiting on my home-made scooter ready for the muddy ride back to the car.
*Please note that canyoneering or canyoning is the sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in such activities as rappelling, climbing and down climbing, and waterfall jumping. It requires all kinds of skills and can’t be done without a serious knowledge of the canyon to be explored.