Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Opal Peak

This is the 3rd day of November long weekend, and I woke up under cloudy sky in town of Jasper. It wasn't as cold as the previous two nights, but I still quickly made my way to A&W for warmth. I was a bit worrying about the snow condition on Opal, as the slope is very avalanche prone and I had to solo that part. There's an alternative plan on the south end of Skyline, namely Sunset Peak, so it was okay. After breakfast, I drove towards Maligne Lake. The road was quite icy at places but was manageable.

I could see screes on the upper slope of Opal so it should be okay, so we kept our original plan. This only involves 1100m elevation gain, so we didn't need to rush. I did all of the trail-breaking though, and mom was following me. Near treeline, snow got much deeper. Despite the fact I was wearing 30' snowshoes, I still sank to knees, almost to the bottom of the snow pack... It was so unsupportive.

To get to the base of the peak, I had to loose some elevation. According to the map, this area is called Opal Hills. Mom decided to wait for me at here, as she's not used to big slope. The left hand side skyline would be the safest in terms of avalanche condition, but I figured out the snow wouldn't be deep enough to slide. I could just pick a straight line up the face and the step-kicking would be awesome. I ditched my snowshoes at treeline and changed to crampons. The scree was frozen solid and there was a layer of ice so crampons would be necessary. The step-kicking up the face was great but went very slow due to the foreshortened view. I knew this was a 2800m peak so at least I had to get up higher than the peaks on Skyline.

Higher up, I went into the clouds.... White-out on the summit. After a quick photo for the big cairn, I soon started the descent. It was very windy and cold. Plunge-stepping down the slope was way faster and in no time the view started to show up again. I re-joined mom at the base, and we retraced out footprints down the mountain. Round trip time: 6 hours

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Photos taken by Steven