Opal Ridge S
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Opal Ridge South - Kananaskis Country

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The basic route

Middle of the slope

Benson coming through a rock band

Steepness of terrain

Looking back to highway 40

Upper slope with way through the rocky area to the upper ridge

Looking back through rocky route that you zig zag up through

Some nice views appear as you get on the ridge to traverse south to the summit

The summit ridge traverse

Looking back as we ascend ridge

Phil, Benson and Allan on the summit

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Opal Ridge South is a peak you don't mind repeating. Caught this picture in late October a few years back.

Indian Paintbrush - the Creator's handiwork

Opal Ridge South

Scramble: Class 1 – Steep Hiking

Altitude: 2,590m (8,495 ft)

Ascent Time: 2 -3 Hours

Elevation Gain: approx. 1,000m (3,280 ft)

Best Season to Scramble: May to September


This scramble is a really pleasant one with great views of the Kananaskis corridor. It has a nice little ridge walk to the southern high point. It can be a little windy especially if the forecast is for a weather system coming from the southwest.

Getting There

Head west out of Calgary on the TransCanada highway # 1 for 79km (49.4 miles) and take the Kananaskis Country Highway 40 turnoff and head south. If your base is Banff head east on the TransCanada for 52 km (32.5 miles) and turn south on route as above. Drive south for 40.7 km (25.4 miles) to the Fortress Mountain Shell gas station. This necessitates a left-hand turn off the highway. Park at the north end of the lot. The owners do not mind scramblers using this area.

Route Description

At the NE end of the parking lot there is a small stream flowing into a culvert. Looking up this slope there is a power cut-line, which heads north and south. Hike up the right side of the stream till there is an obvious crossover spot to a footpath on the left. This footpath takes you up to the cut-line, from there you head north along the cut-line. This would be a left-hand turn when you reach the cut-line. Walk along the cut-line for a few minutes looking for a trail that heads off to the right. Don’t take the first trail that looks like an old road as this takes you up the right hand slope and will necessitate bushwhacking across a steep gully to get on the correct left-hand slope. Go a bit further where the cut-line dips down and you cross a small streambed and will see the correct trail just beyond. From here it is straightforward steep hiking. There is an obvious trail most of the way but it occasionally fades out. As long as you keep near the center of the slope you will meet up with the trail sooner or later.

Once you surmount the hump about of the way up there is a short relatively flat part to the final slope. From this hump go straight ahead up this final short steep slope between two rock outcrops. Exiting from between the rock outcrops you will see the ridge walk trail to your right (south). From here it is a nice ridge walk keeping left where necessary.

Looking south the high point is 15 to 20 minutes away.