Opal Ridge North

Summit Elevation (m): 2415
Trip Date: Saturday, February 4, 2006
Elevation Gain (m): 900
Round Trip Time (hr): Unknown
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you might sprain or break something
Difficulty Notes: Easy to moderate scrambling depending on the route chosen up to the summit and on the mountain conditions.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps

Opal Ridge North is not a grand objective by any means. As a matter of fact, in my research to see how far up the ridge I should go to ‘officially’ nab the north summit I couldn’t find two accounts that gave the same idea of the summit. I decided to go Sonny’s route since he usually researches things quite thoroughly! I also noticed Dave didn’t even have pictures from this trip. Hmmm. That would’ve been easier.

Opal Ridge North Route Map

The weather forecast was for a mix of sun and cloud but I was suspicious of that and expected a very windy / cloudy / snowy sort of day since I was going to be close to Peter Lougheed Park and it always blows and snows there in the winter! I made the right call on this, because I got a lot of wind, a lot of cloud and some snow. It was nice and warm, which made the wind a lot more bearable.

Looking back down my ascent route to highway 40.

The scramble up onto the ridge is not fun at all. I did not enjoy the steep slopes mainly because it was very slick with about 1-2 inches of fresh snow. I kept stepping on slab and would slip and slide all over the place. I was too lazy to put my crampons on and they wouldn’t have helped on this slope anyway. The slope is not exposed and you should never feel unsafe on it if you are on route.

On the north shoulder looking towards the summit.
The sun peeks through and lights up a wintry scene for me as I stand at the summit and look south.

Once I finally got up onto the ridge the snow was a lot deeper than I was expecting. I really wished I had my gaiters for this section because the snow was well past my knees in places and my feet quickly got quite wet. As I got out of the trees the ridge was mostly blown clean except for the odd snowdrift. The wind was howling so hard that several times I almost got blown off my feet! Good thing I’ve done some scrambling in Waterton – that made this wind seem like a summer breeze.

I didn’t linger long at the summit thanks to the cold wind. On my way down I got some great views of the Kananaskis Range across hwy 40.

Fantastic views of James Walker (L), Fortress and Galatea (R).

The descent off the west face of the north ridge back to the car was as “unfun” as I remembered from earlier in the day but it was hard to complain about bagging a Kane peak along hwy 40 in early February! I didn’t see another soul all day.

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