Opal Ridge North is not a grand objective by any means. As a matter of fact, in my research to see how far up the ridge I should go to 'officially' nab the north summit I couldn't find two accounts that gave the same idea of the summit. I decided to go Sonny's route since he usually researches things quite thoroughly! I also noticed Dave didn't even have pictures from this trip. Hmmm. That would've been easier. ;-)
The weather forecast was for a mix of sun and cloud but I was suspicious of that and expected a very windy / cloudy / snowy sort of day since I was going to be close to Peter Lougheed Park and it always blows and snows there in the winter! I made the right call on this, because I got a lot of wind, a lot of cloud and some snow. It was nice and warm, which made the wind a lot more bearable.
The scramble up onto the ridge is not fun at all. I did not enjoy the steep slopes mainly because it was very slick with about 1-2 inches of fresh snow. I kept stepping on slab and would slip and slide all over the place. I was too lazy to put my crampons on and they wouldn't have helped on this slope anyway. The slope is not exposed and you should never feel unsafe on it if you are on route.
[I get my first look at the summit from the ridge on the way up. The weather looks a lot nicer than it was.
Once I finally got up onto the ridge the snow was a lot deeper than I was expecting. I really wished I had my gaiters for this section because the snow was well past my knees in places and my feet quickly got quite wet. As I got out of the trees the ridge was mostly blown clean except for the odd snowdrift. The wind was howling so hard that several times I almost got blown off my feet! Good thing I've done some scrambling in Waterton - that made this wind seem like a summer breeze.
[The sun peeks through and lights up a wintry scene for me as I stand at the summit and look south. If the weather was nicer I would have attempted the two high points in the picture.]
[Vern at along the ridge just south of Opal Ridge North.]
[Vern finds a nice outcrop to pose on near the summit.]
[Some cliffs on the way down. This is just below the crux - a steep snow slope with some exposure above the cliffs.]
[The Wedge from the descent slopes of Opal Ridge North.]
[Vern walks back on the ridge. The weather got pretty nice for a while but soon got nasty again.]
[The Fortress as seen from the ridge on the way back down.]
[The trees on the ridge catch so much wind that a good chunk of them are weathered into wild shapes.]
[The section through the trees on the ridge had quite a bit of snow. Some of it was crotch deep. That wasn't comfortable.]
[A shot of the steep slope up onto the ridge taken on the way back.]