On January 4th, we descended Imlay Canyon using the sneak route in full winter conditions, making it car to car in 10.5 hours. Josh Allen suggested a winter descent of Imlay to make up for missing the Black Hole descent this year at freeze fest. Surprisingly, we found 3 other people crazy enough to attempt the canyon with us! Josh and I were joined by Enoch Hardin, Brig Murdock, and Spencer Christensen. We got a 6am start from the grotto and didn’t hit snow until after scout lookout. After branching off towards the sneak route, the snow got deeper, especially as we entered the left sneak route. PC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen We chose the left over the right thinking that the north-facing slickrock descent of the right would be very dangerous with snow covering it. I was the only one with microspikes, which turned out to be useful in the left as we discovered that the canyon held deep snow and treacherous traverses. We were able to pull it off with only one pair of microspikes and one handline, but I would definitely say that microspikes are a must this time of year based on how sketchy the terrain became. PC: Josh Allen Nearing the crossroads, I was questioning if we were prepared to deal with this much snow in the canyon, and we decided to make a judgement call when we reached the canyon. It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes from the breakoff of the right and left sneak routes to reach the crossroads. Luckily for us, when we reached the crossroads, the sun was shining and the snow had mostly disappeared. PC:Josh Allen We suited up and entered the first few pools, which were flowing. We were able to down-climb or jump every rappel in this first section, which really made things go by fast. This first section of narrows and open canyon had quite a bit of ice, up to two inches thick in places. I was wearing a full 5mm wet-suit with a 3mm full stacked on top. I also had a 2mm vest, 3mm gloves, a 5+2mm socks. Everyone had a similar setup to that, though two didn't use neo gloves. We were all feeling fairly warm during this part of the canyon, and were satisfied with our wet-suit setup. PC: Spencer Christensen After we got to the arch room, it got a lot colder as the canyon got deeper, and we had some recent log jams to contend with. In attempting to climb over one particularly high log jam right after the arch room, I ended up having to pull down the entire thing to get through, jumping out of the way to avoid it! The deep section was unfrozen due to its depth, but it was where we started to get cold, as we dealt with log jams and figured out the jumps. It was cool to jump into Big Bertha and find it brim-full, as well as all other potholes in this section. PC: Spencer Christensen PC: Josh Allen By this point, some of us were very cold, with Josh and myself not being able to feel our fingers. Spencer had taken off his neoprene gloves early on, claiming that he was warmer without them. His hands ended up getting so cold that he couldn’t even get neoprene gloves on near the end of the canyon! We only ended up doing 4 rappels, and they were all at the end. The final rappel was epic, with big sheets of ice reaching almost all the way down to the narrows. We even had some observers below, and were met with confused looks as we made the long walk out of the narrows. Overall I'd say that Imlay is definitely reasonable in winter with the right amount of neoprene. Josh and I ended up getting the first stage of frostbite on our fingers, even with neoprene gloves. The tips of my fingers feel like they have blisters coming on, and are sensitive more than 48 hours later. With a better glove setup, I'd be down to do winter Imlay anytime! Brig said he didn't even shiver once in the canyon or feel cold. I wish it would have had a similar experience, but it goes to show that with the right wet-suit setup, you can get through some crazy stuff!