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Opal Ridge

 
Opal Ridge

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Alberta, Canada, North America

Lat/Lon: 50.78610°N / 115.1347°W

Object Title: Opal Ridge

Elevation: 8448 ft / 2575 m

 

Page By: Dow Williams

Created/Edited: May 12, 2005 / Mar 29, 2013

Object ID: 154054

Hits: 8667 

Page Score: 82.48%  - 15 Votes 

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Overview

Located in the Kananaskis River Valley north of Grizzly Creek in Kananaskis Provincial Park , Alberta, the Opal Ridge is an 8 km long ridge located immediately to the west of the Opal Range (a front range of the Canadian Rockies). A geological survey team found quartz crystals coated with Opal while prospecting nearby, thus, the unofficial name.
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This is considered a difficult and exposed scramble route easily accessed via Hwy 40 which is wholly submerged in the pristine Kananaskis Provincial park which borders the four adjoined National Parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay) of the Canadian Rockies. Kananaskis Country, as it is called, is actually considered by many locals a more wild and untamed experience compared to the national parks. This ridge traverse provides you views all day of the most sought after mountain objectives in Kananaskis, i.e., Assiniboine, Sir Douglas, Joffre, etc.

From a unique perspective, Opal Ridge has tightly folded strata towards the center. The photo above displays this phenomena. Mountain sheep graze the ridge, but that is extremely common in the Canadian Rockies, and particularly this area.

Getting There

Take the Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel 35.7 km south on Highway 40 and park along side of the road just south of the Eau Claire Campground. Opal Ridge sits right above you to the East. There is no trail.

Red Tape

There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Country. This is active grizzly country and bear tape was up when I did this scramble in 2004. Take bear spray. You drive by the park headquarters on the way in on Highway 40. Any recent notices will be posted on the bulletin board outside. If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly.

When To Climb

This is a summer scramble and I don't see any attraction to tackle it in the winter. However, I did complete this traverse in April, which is early by Canadian Rocky standards. This ridge is part of the front range and sheds it's snow and ice earlier than other sections. I did take snowshoes and an ice ax and needed both.

Camping

You can camp at Eau Claire Campgound and use it as your base if you like, but you could also just make this a long day trip. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the park web site I provided in the link section for more information.

Mountain Conditions

I provided the Kananaskis Provincial Park website in the link section. This is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. An excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used.

External Links

  • 100’s of Canadian Rockies multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
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  • Cascade Designs (MSR; Thermarest; Platypus)
  • Images

    Looking back North to Opal...Mountain Sheep are a Common...The Unique Tightly Folded...After 8 km on the Opal Ridge...Opal Ridge Traverse, From...Don\'t make the mistake of...Opal Ridge Traverse, 8 km...
    This is the headwall...Don\'t bother going up the...What an amazing ridge.The snow was just starting to...All that snow in early...Summit push