Opal Ridge South

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Opal Ridge South
  • Location: Kananaskis Country (Highway 40)
  • Activity: Scrambling
  • Height: 2,612 m (8,570 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 m (3,281 ft)
  • Distance: 6.0 km / Round Trip (3.7 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 18.4°
  • Estimated Time: 5-8 hrs
  • Technicality: Expert.2b
  • Fitness Level: Moderate
Pink line is our off-route line. White line is approximate route for on trail.

Ahuuuunnmm Shaun and I decided to go scrambling at Opal Ridge South. After a limited research I did I couldn’t really find good information about this one. (Dear Andrew Nugara, your http://earth.prohosting.com links no longer works.) All I found is some past club event saying it’s difficult hiking. From panorama photos I took, I guessed the route and it did look difficult hiking.

We parked at Fortress Junction and started snowshoeing. From previous Opal Ridge traverse attempt I remembered there was a cairn and trail near the junction. I pretty much convinced myself that must be it. Unfortunately I had to throw away all my research and guess work just because I changed my mind at the bottom of the ridge…ヾ(-_-;). Instead of finding and following trail on north side of a creek, we decided to go dicer and unknown route on south side of the creek (page 3). I knew this route involves some slabby ribs to overcome but I was hoping we could do it (Yes I do know this area very well after failing to summit neighbor Grizzly for 3 times. It's very similar). Comparing to the trail route, I believe this route had bushwhacking and as well more snow. I guess snow deposit in this side of slope which made our job harder… The crux of this route was at the middle part, as I guessed, the ribs. This series of ribs were all quite high, slabby, and vertical. Route-finding is very important (page 7-9). What really difficult about these ribs was that we couldn’t see the other side. It may look as a weakness from one side but the other side still is cliff and have to look around more. Scrambling wise it’s quite bit of moderate and difficult scrambles without exposure. After the crux terrain became loose and steep scree but nothing technical (page 15). Near the summit the trail finally merged to our route.

It would have been nice if we could go back using the trail but we left our snowshoes on the way up, we had no choice but to go back the same way.

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Fortress Junction is another one of these parking lot which has a nice view.

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Orange line is where trail is and red line is our off-route.

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Until treeline snow was quite deep.

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Closer to slab and started thinking about route.

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How much difference east and west aspect makes along highway 40. Snow wise I mean.

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Ribs ribs ribs. Lots of hands on.

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More ribs.

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Gully crossing was another thing we had to watch out. While finding line we could scramble up and down, we also had to find flatter, shallower, and narrower section of gully to walk across snow.
(Photo By Shaun Luong)

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Almost end of rib section.

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Mount Kidd.

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North most sub peak of south ridge.

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This wasn't the highest point of the ridge but Shaun who had been only doing ice climbing lately was little too tired to continue… (`ε´) Boooooo!!

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Opal Range is impressive looking. Mouseover for peak pointers.

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Shaun coming up the last scree slope.

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Group pic. From left, me and Shaun.

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Snow gully looks like a river of snow.


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