Saturday, March 26, 2011

Expensive Gem

Today, four of my friends and myself along with all our gear, packed into my brand new car to head west to go play in the mountains.  Today was also the first time I drove on the highway since Sunday, January 16, 2011!  I was glad to have my friends with me who were  first rate with their support in getting me past that nasty spot along the way.  Our trailhead for Opal Ridge South Summit was at the Fortress Junction Service Station.

We walked along the highway for half a kilometer before heading into the trees to begin our ascent bushwhacking up through the forest.  Once above tree line, we faced a very steep slippery sugary snowy slope.  We assessed that it was safe to continue and eventually got to a flatter space where the snow had been blown off from there on up, so changed from snowshoes to micro spikes.  We could see our destination, the top right peak.
We also had clear views to the north and south!
We created small switch-backs as we ascended to make it easier in places.  Certain portions that we traversed were covered in deep hard crusted snow.   I learned a valuable lesson on digging steps in that stuff.    After the tough (for me) sections were over, we found shelter from the wind and stopped to dine while enjoying the first class scenery.  Then it was time to push for the summit although we were not sure if we would be able to go all the way.  We could see cornices and it was getting on into the afternoon.

We could see the Gates that we had to pass through which are these splendid gigantic rocks that would guide us to a meadow with great views.
From here we could see our ultimate goal, the top right hand snow covered peak.  We decided we would have to save that for another day.
The top of The Gates was today's summit!  We dropped our packs and spent some time here scrambling, taking priceless group photos along with other great shots.  I had "peak" on my mind so meant to say "peeking" instead of "peaking".   This was an enjoyable space to be in, sheltered from the wind, touches of blue in the sky and a 360 degree view.

I found a premium spot for my summit shot!
I felt sky-high here!
She looks majestic!  The ewe, not me!
We were able to make somewhat of a loop today by descending down the ledges area instead of the way we ascended.  While ledges can be barriers, they were not today but this was a barrier.  The moose was getting its salt fix.  Next to the oncoming vehicle puts its size into perspective.  We had to wait it out and just made the best of our time snapping shots.  Finally we were able to go on our merry way for our reward at Woodys.
Today's adventure at Opal was one of those gem days!  You probably caught on why I called this post an "expensive gem"!  There are so many words to describe a day that is top rate from beginning to end!  Thank you to Adventurer Designer for today's design and for taking over the reigns in getting my car home safely in the dark stormy night!


  1. A wonderful day out on one of my Kananaskis fav's. Great summit image, both contemplative and celebratory...

  2. I don't find the words to say how beautiful is this post with all those wonderful pictures of an unknown world for me. Mountains, animals, snow, rocks, climbing, skying..... here sea, ships, port another world!

  3. Wow, that is an awesome summit shot! Looks like a beautiful hike!

  4. Very cute new car and awesome wildlife shots you got this time!
    I can't believe it's still so wintery...hopefully you will get lots of sunshine in Moab...


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