Monday, January 12, 2009

Opal Ridge South

Made this attempt on Opal Ridge back in October 08. Opal ridge is the eastern wall that forms the north half of the Kananaskis valley. Its characteristic razor sharp ridge line makes it easily identifiable. Apart from the view down the Kananaskis corridor, one of the selling points of this trip is you can park your car at the gas station and treat yourself to a hot coffee and an Eatmore if you feel you deserve it.

Pic above shows route from gas station following power line and up north side of gully

View looking south from atop first set of shale cliffs. Topography forms huge wind funnel.

Looking west over highway 40 towards Mt Inflexible.

The wind steadily increased until it reached a force that made stable footing difficult. I shot this short video on a flat terrace where I hid on the lee side of a rock. Without that windbreak I would have easily been blown right off the slope. For those unfamiliar with high alpine trees, they're as stiff as metal and the fact that you can see them moving indicates a hurricane force wind. Video best viewed with sound to appreciate the force of the wind!

It became obvious that the wind was not going to allow me to continue safely so I made a retreat, down-climbing short cliff bands in between the huge gusts that made my heart pound pretty fast. Even the drive out of the valley was pretty sketchy with the car getting hammered by cross gusts. This route has some fun climbing and the views at the top that I didn't get to enjoy all conspire to ensure a return trip in 09.

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