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#19350 - 02/01/18 11:09 PM Opal Ridge Climbs
AlpineMatt Offline

Registered: 02/22/15
Posts: 3
Loc: Canmore, AB
Has anyone been up any of the climbs on Opal Ridge? I see the lines in the old Waterfall Ice book, but haven't seen any trip reports anywhere for any of those climbs. Is there a reason for this? They look like they would be great beginner multi-pitches, which are reasonably close to Canmore and Calgary. I would love to hear any info anyone has: Avy risk (overhead), anchor/ rappel info, is there more current info in the new APP? (I don't have the app yet). Anything is appreciated.

#19351 - 02/02/18 03:55 PM Re: Opal Ridge Climbs [Re: AlpineMatt]
Grant P Offline

WI 10

Registered: 11/10/07
Posts: 1062
Loc: Calgary
I'm not sure what's in the new app yet. Not out for android users yet. Likely it'll be what's in JoJo's 4th Ed. book. That book did have some map references (Waxy Referendum maybe) but they may not have been converted to GPS points for the app yet. Some confusion seems to exist as to potential duplication of two routes actually being the same but I've not heard anything to confirm or clarify the situation.
I've been to two of the climbs so here is what I know of them.

Above the gas station and slightly further north is a short climb visible from the road. The easiest approach is to follow a hiking trail left of the drainage most of the way then where it does a switchback left, instead continue right into the drainage and up another 100-200m to the base. Going further up the hiking trail takes you above then needing to drop down into the drainage above the climb. There is a snowslope here and therefore some avi potential to evaluate. Approaching the base from below you are also in a terrain trap although post holing might be the more relevant problem as the climb rarely seems to see visitors therefore unlikely any sort of bootpack will exist. From the book given the only climb listed fitting the length of 25m is Solid Cold W3, the rest of the route description also fits.

Quite some years ago I went up Hood Creek to Waxy Referendum W3 110m although we only climbed some approach steps. The approach took us quite a bit longer than the book said and involved a whole bunch of postholing so we fifured it would be headlamps to finish the climb. We took the left bank staying out of the creek bed but there is quite a bit of up and down as you cross side gullies feeding into the creek. Despite that it would be better than the creek if not frozen solid and a huge log jam may block access up the creek. That was before the 2013 floods however so the creek could have changed.
2008 report on Waxy Referendum
Another thread on Hood Creek
Prior to 2013 when stood at the Hood Creek culvert under Hwy40 it was possible to see Waxy Referendum way up Hood Creek. Should be still visible although you only get a second to glimpse it if driving.

Dodge Ram W3-4 100m the following link is posted by Ian Hunt regarding the FA with Kevin Barton so it should help to find the climb.
FA account of Dodge Ram
Nothing to do with the trucks but named after having to dodge the ram.
Dodge Ram, grade 3/4, approx. 100m

Location : West flank peak N of Rippel Rock Creek, Kananaskis.
FRA: (?) Kevin Barton, Ian Hunt, January 1999.

Approach : Park by the 90kph sign on the creek between Grizzly and Hood Creek. Head up the ridge to the rock band then traverse into the valley above the creek. Care needed crossing slopes if there is a lot of snow. A good 2+ hrs.

Climb : Gear up in a small cave, head out R, scramble to thin ice (belay : piton) careful work puts you in a small bowl beneath the upper smears of ice. Climb right side up bulges and short curtains to large boulder at the top.

History : Most of the creeks off Highway-40 in Kananaskis are named on signs, not this one. Even looking at the map and it remains anonymous. Dig deeper, and finally, it's Ripple Rock Creek. Why the interest, well, in December '98 there was ice (again) on the south end of the peak that forms the north side of the creek. I had first spotted this line several years before, but never since. Now, with a few more years on the regular routes, it was time to get off the beaten track and case the "new" ice.
We parked the truck by the 90kph sign on the highway and headed straight up the ridge towards to route. After getting ourselves in a bit of a mess and having to retrace our steps, and a traverse across an intimidating slope, we were in sight of the route, and 10 minutes later we were there. Safely in a little gully / cave we had a great place to gear up, stay out of the wind and get ready for the climbing adventure ahead. Once ready, I scrambled out of the right side, up some snow, to the start of the climbing proper, thin ice and rock in a short corner. Once up, I was on a comfortable ledge, beneath a little bay with thin runnels of ice leading up to fatter ice above. Since the spot was ideal for a belay and I didn't have enough rope for much more, I stopped. Kevin followed, with cold hands and less happy about the sketchy ice, but none the less glad to be there, far from the maddening crowds.
In the lead, Kevin entered the bay. The most promising line was to the right, but he couldn't find anything to protect the crux move and retreated after a few swings of the tools. After probing two others spots on ice that detached from the rock rather too quickly, he was back at my side. I took a quick look, but darkness loomed at it was time for home. We elected to slide down the snow to the creek and then hike out the creek and as a result, got back to the truck in the dark, very wet and bushwhacked.
Two weeks later, after a trip to Blighty to catch up with the folks, it was a New Year with new energy. Back we went. This time we stayed left of the ridge avoiding our previous error. Now all we had to contend with was a little too much powder snow for quick progress. Sometime later we were back in the shelter of the cave and ready to go again. In front again, I got myself on the still thin ice precariously balanced ready to move�. Then snow is pouring down over me, threatening to dislodge me from my perch�. "What the $#$@ ?" There above me are two big horn sheep, one the largest ram I have ever seen, staring down at me and seeming to ask the question "What the hell are you humans doing ?" The eyeballing continued and eventually after a few minutes they tired of the spectacle before me, and moved off, liberally displacing snow in my general direction. Fun over, I continued to sanctuary of my ledge.
Somehow, I found myself in the lead again, at the right side of the bay, tackling a very short, but very narrow seam if ice, protected by a marginal wire in the rock. One high step and I had a placement in the ice on the slab above that was secure enough for me to pull on to complete the move. "Yahoo !" Ice screw protection, turn left and head up the ice above. This too had it's moments as it proved to be thinner and less solid than it had looked from below, particularly on the short curtains. One curtain even tried to push me off, but I won the battle and ran out the rest of the rope, ending at the top of the ice at a large block beneath a bare, but enticing groove in the rock above. In went the pegs, and with belay set, Kevin followed.
Happy at the success and the new route, I start looking around as Kevin climbs. Then there on the rock a few meters to my left is a loop of cord. Beaten ! Somehow I'm disappointed, but that�s life. Oh, and by the way, this way we descended the ridge rather than the creek.

One thing to note about avi on this side of the valley. The snow tends to burn off fast on the sunny slopes giving the first impression of clear slopes. The gullies and shady drainages not as much though. There are avi slopes so be aware and prepare. You may get dry sunny hill sides or you could be postholing. YMMV

#19352 - 02/02/18 11:22 PM Re: Opal Ridge Climbs [Re: Grant P]
AlpineMatt Offline

Registered: 02/22/15
Posts: 3
Loc: Canmore, AB
Thanks so much for the info Grant!


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