May 8, 2016
It is our tradition to go on a mountain adventure for Mother’s Day, and the north summit of Opal Ridge was an excellent choice. I will admit to a certain amount of chagrin though, when we had to bushwhack up the near vertical wall to start the scramble. I remember complaining that some enthusiastic volunteer should place flagging in the hopes of grinding out a trail on this heinous wall, but then everyone would be up here. Joyfully, we had the mountain all to ourselves for one of the best Mother’s Days ever.
I was easily placated once we reached the ridge. From there, we had a really enjoyable scramble up this impressive looking mountain.
From Highway 40, we picked our way up the face of the wall right above us. Once at the ridge, we turned south and made our way to the base of the mountain. We worked our way up the contour lines, climbing through scree and rock bands. There is one 3 m wall before we popped out onto a wide expanse that lead to the summit.
We spent some time driving back and forth on the highway, looking for the exact spot to begin the scramble. As it turned out, there is no perfect spot, so we parked about 1 km south of the Rocky Creek Bridge on the east side of Highway 40.
From there, we picked a likely opening in the dense forest above us, and started to immediately bushwhack up the rocky face.
I will admit to a fair bit of grumbling on this part, however, the good part was the amazing flora that was poking out so early in May.
After about 500 m of distance, we popped out onto a wide bench and were surprised to meet a very well trod trail. We headed south along this trail through thinning forest, and finally got our first views of this impressive mountain.
From here, we continued to the west side of the mountain, slowly gaining elevation through the scree.
As we passed some large boulders, we found several fossils embedded in what was once the sea bed.
Once past the majority of the scree field, we came to the fun stuff. We scrambled up a short rock wall.
Then we hugged the left side of a large wall for some fun and easy scrambling.
Once the rock wall was done, we came to the 3 m wall. It has some very convenient steps to climb up.
Once above the scrambly section, we popped out onto a wide ridge to gain the north summit of Opal Ridge.
From the summit, it is possible to continue south to make it a full traverse of Opal Ridge. I have also done the South summit of Opal Ridge, but have yet to connect the two points.
It was very windy, so we back-tracked down a bit to eat our lunch and enjoy the amazing views.
From the highway to the summit was 2 hours and 50 minutes, and 3.73 km. I clocked 899 m (2,967′) of elevation gain, but MapMyHike says it was 802 m (2,646′). Explor8on booked 900 m and Spirko was 903 m, so I will ignore what the app says.
Opal Ridge, North Summit Return
We descended the way we came up. Coming down the scramble parts was just as good fun as going up.
As we got to the end of the ridge above the final bushwhack wall, we were convinced we had just missed the ‘right’ trail up and so hunted around for the obvious decent descent route. We did find a likely candidate, but it petered out fairly quickly. We resigned ourselves to simply going straight down this steep slope back to the car.
If you’ve done the north summit of Opal Ridge lately, and if the lower trail is in better shape, please let me know in the comments.
Totals – Tracked on Map My Hike
Date: May 8, 2016
Group: 4 (Alisen, Mike and our two daughters)
Distance: 7 KM
Elevation: 899 m (2,967′)
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes