Traversed the length of Opal Ridge from the North Summit to the South Summit, and yes I threw in a YDS grade of 5.4. I solo traversed the ridge crest for the whole distance, and hit the top of each hit point. The ridge crest proper presents several short steps of 5.4. Most obvious is the rock step mentioned in the scrambler’s guidebook where Kane recommends dropping about 200m instead of tackling the short vertical rock section. When travelling from north to south the best spot to ascend the wall is right on the ridge proper, there is a small col like spot on the ridge.
From this section follow a nice 5.4 broad open book face up to the top, about 30 metres of climbing with excellent holds on good rock. Lots of great hand holds, but feet take some care, including several sections of feet only with smears, the super positive hands make these moves feel secure. Several other sections included up and down climbs at the 5.4 level, including my descent from the northern high point, heading south from the summit; the ridge crest was super exposed, loose and quite blank for feet, some huge reaching down steps.
Had a lot of fun with perfect weather conditions. Left the car parked 1.0 km south of the Rocky Creek bridge, up the steep grass/small tree slope, hard to stay on the trail in this section. Once heading up the north ridge the trail is a highway all the way to first high point. After that trail comes and goes. I stayed on the ridge crest, hit all high points; which was much more time and energy consuming, all the way to the South Summit. 6 hours from the car to the South Summit, then back to the Fortress Junction gas station, where I had left my bike, then biked the highway back to my car. All in, just over 8 hours car to car. In my Opal 35 Project I include both summits in my list. Great day out!
I did not understand why the Trail guide book recommend going up the very steep hillside from Fortress Junction, so instead I chose to climb the easy pathway from Rocky Creek.
This day I got a late start. I hiked up the north end of this ridge, from the creek at 1600 meters.
The sheep trails made the walking easier, but I kept losing and re-finding the pathway. Also the ridge crest shifted occasionally, so I had to watch the route carefully.
I saw several cairns. On the way up, I had no idea if they meant to tell me anything. On the way down, I understood that some of them actually said "turn here". Huh! Imagine that!
The ridge offered a few flat meadows, they were very inviting to relax and enjoy the scenery, and enjoy the views.
At about 2200 meters, "somebody" put a big huge buttress blocking the entire ridge! So now I know why the guide book says to climb the ridge from Fortress. To get past this big block. I scrambled up to the flat area below the rock face, but I did not actually touch the buttress, because I was running out of time. So I headed down.
Route finding was just as important on the return as on the assent. It was easy to start heading down the slopes, instead of down the crest. And I did great! Until the very end, when I came down a kilometer up Rocky Creek (I had started on the road side, not from the creek). I descended down a drainage, knowing that it might be a drop-off. And it was, about 10 feet of mossy blocky rock, right into the creek! But I was OK here, the creek boulders were fun to walk on. I crossed the creek 4 times before I got back to the parking lot.
Dow Williams wrote: "A fun solo for the experienced scrambler-climber." Yes it was! But it's a long day, you need an early start.
I saw some rocks that looked "different", I guess it was quartzite. And lots of limestone that looks exactly like snow on the ground.
The tiny birds were cheerful company. They were the same shape and size as chickadees, but brown color.
The weather was amazing on the way up only a few gust of wind. When the wind hit the temp dropped to -5. Quite a difference from the +10 we experienced when it wasn't windy. I was amazed by the panoramic view from the summit. It was my second summit. What an experience.
Route finding was definately the most challenging part and I agree that it was a really fun experience scrambler / climber scramble. Start really early and go on a clear day to ensure you give yourself plenty of time to finish the traverse before day light dims cause the trail is not obvious in most parts nor is it marked by many cairns.
A fun solo for the experienced scrambler-climber. Great day, saw a lot of wildlife, enjoyed the challenges and of course the view, that is why we do traverses, right? This is a great early season outing, when you are sitting at home awaiting summer. Can be a long day, took me 9 hours. If less snow, could go faster. I posted a trip report with more specifics. My website in the link section will have more photos as well. Cheers!