Opal Ridge North Peak

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.

Overview

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.

Trail Head

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.

Opal North 0.5

The near vertical wall directly above the highway. We basically went straight up.

From there, we picked a likely opening in the dense forest above us, and started to immediately bushwhack up the rocky face.

Opal North 1

Despite obvious signs of many feet being here before us, a trail stubbornly refused to materialize.

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.

Opal North 2

I believe this is a lady slipper orchid poking up. It was the highlight of this slog, and brought me enough joy to continue with a little less complaining.

Main Trail

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.

Opal North 4.5

The North summit of Opal Ridge really is stunning. The route from here is so enjoyable.

From here, we continued to the west side of the mountain, slowly gaining elevation through the scree.

Opal North 3

From the ridge looking down to the highway below, and across at the impressive mountain vista that kept us entertained all day.

Opal North 5

Behind my daughter you can see the well defined trail through the scree. From here we gained elevation up to the rock bands.

As we passed some large boulders, we found several fossils embedded in what was once the sea bed.

Opal North 6

This area was underwater, until British Columbia unceremoniously rammed into Alberta several millennium earlier. This action caused the slip-fold that created the Rocky Mountain.

Once past the majority of the scree field, we came to the fun stuff. We scrambled up a short rock wall.

Opal North 7

This scramble is ideal for kids. Lots of hand holds and solid rock.

Then we hugged the left side of a large wall for some fun and easy scrambling.

Opal North 8

This wall went on for some time, and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Opal North 10

Oh, I love the Rockies in the spring. This bunch of flowers was putting on a gorgeous display as we made our way up the final end of the large rock wall.

Once the rock wall was done, we came to the 3 m wall. It has some very convenient steps to climb up.

Opal North 11

My other daughter taking the final step above the 3 m wall.

Once above the scrambly section, we popped out onto a wide ridge to gain the north summit of Opal Ridge.

Opal North 12

It was still pretty snowy in early May, but our mountain was nice and dry. I highly recommend a quality summit as the best way to spend Mother’s Day with your kids.

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.

Opal North 12.5

Looking south from the North Summit. The traverse is to the south, as well as the South summit of Opal Ridge.

It was very windy, so we back-tracked down a bit to eat our lunch and enjoy the amazing views.

Opal North 14

A bit lower down from the summit to get out of the wind. The Wedge is looking mighty fine across from us.

Opal North 13

This is looking south east from the summit.

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.

Opal North 15

Kids descending the 3 m wall. From here, the view looks like a straight shot right to the highway.

Opal North 16

Working our way down the scree towards the end of the ridge in the distance.

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.

Alisen

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

Map

The North summit of Opal Ridge follows the ridge line all the way up the mountain.

Profile

I logged 899′ m elevation gain. I always check the elevation when I start and at the summit, and take the difference for my elevation gain. Using electronic devices to record distance and elevation is not ideal, but by using a variety of sources I can usually get pretty accurate data.

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Posted in Adventures, Scrambling
2 comments on “Opal Ridge North Peak

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