Opal Ridge Traverse

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 50.78610°N / 115.1347°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Apr 1, 2004
Place your bike at the Fortress Junction service station. Drive back to the Opal Day Use parking area. Head straight up east from here via no trail. Some small rock climbing is involved to avoid snow this early in the season. You top out onto a small ridge that takes you to the base of a false summit. Zig zag your way up to a gully on the right, hop over the shoulder and head up snow/scree to another corner. Turn left and hit a little saddle just left of a small problem. Climb up and onto another ridge. This flat terrain takes you to another false summit. Make sure to angle left low around this project to avoid the steeper snow. I tried to face climb this piece, got 3/4 of the way up and was beyond reasonable exposure for a 40 year old man. I then attempted to traverse high to the left with snowshoes to no avail. It was not until I backed away a kilometer, almost in defeat, that I found a line across the snow to the left that was not as steep in regards to avalanche danger. I skirted on across and ramped up this false summit but suspect there is a trail under the snow that continues straight for the real summit. Once you gain the next altitude towards the real summit, you will have a 10 meter step of rock up and onto a small flat summit which is the northern peak of this traverse. You have just begun, be ready for a long day and some more technical scrambling. Descending this peak is treacherous in early season. Everything was loose (that really goes for the whole ridge, but this descent is particularly rotten). Once on the traverse, you will hit several problems. One of the largest is a solid multi band of wavy rock. You have to pick a lot of lines and be equipped with route finding experience to tackle this ridge. Eventually you will come to some overhanging and deeply exposed wall protruding for quite a distance down the mountain. I glissaded approximately 800' on steep snow before I found a suitable place to climb over this problem. Then I trudged right back up the ridge and continued on for the south summit. Several more technical sections blocked my path. I was early and did not want to trudge around snow, so hit everything straight on. My system worked, but one needs to be skilled and confident in their scrambling/climbing abilities to follow it through. The south summit gives way to views of Kananaskis Lakes. Once you take a breather, head back north to the last bump and straight down from there for a flattened area and continue straight down even further and you will find your first trail of the trip (if you are going this early) free of snow. This trail took me to a fire road where I eventually found a trail that took me down to the service station and my bike. There is public drinking water here to refresh yourself with, no matter what time of day or night. I saw 3 groups of sheep, 1 bald eagle, one marmot hole (warmth came out of it from their hibernation) and several pica tracks on the ridge. Biking and driving out at dusk, I saw three groups of white tailed deer and three groups of elk.


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