"The slab itself was not very technical, however, because the rock was sandstone and it had rained the day before, there was a thin layer of loose sand on the top of the rock. If we slipped at the crux, then it was very likely that we would slide and go over the edge of a 150+ foot cliff. So it's pretty clear what you have to do - don't slip."
This past weekend, I spent a day canyoneering Lost and Found Canyon in Arches National Park in Southern Utah. Canyoneering is like extreme hiking through slot canyons, where you have to rappel down in order to proceed. This particular canyon involved a few miles of hiking, three rappels, chimney stemming through slots, and a "free-solo" on an exposed 5.5 slab in order to exit the canyon (for non-climbers, this means we had to climb without protection on a relatively easy route on a flat slab of rock at a diagonal angle).
I heard the beta for the exit and figured since I had a lot of experience climbing that it wouldn't be a big deal, but I was still a bit nervous due to the exposure. And sure enough, when we got there it was no joke.
The slab itself was not very technical, however, because the rock was sandstone and it had rained the day before, there was a thin layer of loose sand on the top of the rock. If we slipped at the crux, then it was very likely that we would slide and go over the edge of a 150+ foot cliff. So it's pretty clear what you have to do - don't slip.
After our trip-leader made it up to the top, he set up a hand-line for us to help ease everyone's peace of mind. If we started actually sliding down, he was going to let go of the line so he wouldn't be at risk of falling as well. Understandable.
Obviously we all did it successfully and it was more of a head-game than a physical challenge, but the reason I am writing this blog post is because I want to express how awesome my shoes from Astral Designs performed. I am in no way paid to write this or expect any kick-backs. I just want to spread the good word, because these shoes really do it all. The particular shoes I wore that day were my Astral Loyaks, which I initially bought for stand up paddleboarding in whitewater. The shoes look like regular street shoes, but the grip on the soles are amazing. While I was climbing, hiking, and rappelling this weekend, I didn't slip on the sandstone once. The fact that I trusted my shoes helped me keep my head-game strong, which is absolutely necessary in outdoor contexts such as this.
When tennis shoes are overkill, I wear my Astral Rosas. They have completely replaced my Chacos because the grip is better and I can convert it to a regular flip flop when I want more foot freedom. The Rosas are so awesome that I've even started using them as approach shoes for climbing. I've solo'd short 5.5 approach climbs in my Rosas with zero issues (and I'm always the one stressing about safety). I've even swam rivers in my Rosas without any issues of them falling off my feet in the current. And of course, I've naturally done some water-soloing right out of the water in my Rosas without any slippage.
I am very critical when it comes to outdoor gear for women. The struggle is real trying to find something that's not obnoxiously pink/purple, performs well, and fits right. It's awesome to see that outdoor gear companies are working hard to provide this niche with gear that doesn't suck. And being fashionable while playing outside is always a plus, too ;)