Opal Ridge (South Peak)
A direct hike to the high point of the south part of Opal Ridge

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Distance - 4.5km Elevation gain - 989m
ascent / descent

The route begins directly behind the Fortress Junction Gas Station.
It is first necessary to find the right way up - you must cross the gullly, and ascend to the north.
There's a path at the back of the paring lot which goes up a few metres to a powerline.
Walk along the powerline until you've gone down and up, and crossed a stream.
A caired trail leads off on the right, uphill, first as a small path through trees.

Karla turns off on the Opal path.

Group hikes through a short section of trees.

Marek leads the way out of the trees.

Open views already!

You leave the trees very quickly, and the trail fades out, leaving you on a prominent rib.
The ascent continues up the largely grassy hillside, with intermittant rockbands that never build high enough to pose problems.
Being in the Opal Range, the rocky sections are rife with fossils, including a staggering number of horn corals.
We also found an exposed rock with a field of coral, both solitary and colonial, and a rockbed with foliated humps.

Peter and Todd take a break.

Now above the trees, we ascend layered terrain.

Our destination! (at right)

Passing through a short band of rock.

Foliated rockspheres and my foot for scale.

A whole slope of these strange rocks.

Karla photographs the view.

Rachel scrambles up to see a fossil bed.

Colonial rugose corals.

Large bed with a zillion solitary corals.

Many were also lying around free of the rock.

This is not a lichen!

Moving on, through greener paths.

Todd and Ryan come up the ridge.

The rib narrows a bit as it reaches Opal Ridge, and you pass through large gate-like pinnacles.

Todd, Ryan, and the view.

Rachel and Karla scope out the peak.

View up to the gates.

Karla, Hannah, and Marek near the ridge.

Rachel, Marek, and Hannah head for the ridge.

Pasque Flower - the only flowers spotted.

Ryan ascends through the gates.

Hannah hikes up above the gates.

Marek takes a pinnacle detour.

Marek returning to Opal Ridge.

Once on the ridge, it's a short walk back across the gully to the high point - the top of the south end of Opal Ridge.
The rocks are neat here too as you must cross from sandstones and shales to the limestone upper ridge.

The peak from the gates.

Scree on the last section near the top.

View of the rock layers along the ridge.

Marek and Hannah make it up.

Ryan, Todd, and Rachel bring up the rear.

Rachel and Todd reach the summit.

View all the way up to the north summit of Opal.

View to the south end of the ridge.

From this ridge, you could traverse south (hike), and return out Grizzly Creek, or traverse north (scramble) to the end of Opal Ridge.
Due to threatening clouds, we did neither, but ate lunch and enjoyed the summit for a bit.

The disappointing cirque above a fascinating waterfall.

Todd's a mountain action figure!

Ryan attempts to compete.

Rachel gets the worst of a mid-air battle.

Reconciliation for a group summit shot.

360 degrees of summit view.

Our return trip was uneventful, and the clouds dropped only a little rain, which was very kind.

Open plateau behind Opal Ridge.

Intriguing McKay Hills.

More layers of geeky interest!

The group heads back down the ridge.

Last few down the scree slope.

Passing through the gates.

A look back along South Opal Ridge.

Marek leads through a band of scree.

Our track in Google Earth.

Elevation Profile.

Photos taken by Karla, Ryan, and Rachel
GPS track and elevation profile thanks to Ryan.

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