There isn’t much I enjoy in life more than a high line traverse in the mountains. I love them because I feel like I’m flying above the landscape. This only works, of course, if you can actually see the landscape (unlike on Rowe / Festubert the week before) and such was the case on our traverse from Vimy Peak to Arras to GR939323. Not only were the views completely sublime, but also the wind was extremely light for the area, allowing us to converse while we walked. This is not normal.
The first thing you should note is that just as with all traverses, the destination isn’t quite as close as it appears. It isn’t “Festubert far” but it’s going to add hours to your day even if you’re fast - which Phil definitely is.
The first part of the traverse from Vimy Peak was very easy. We even bypassed the first small bump on climbers right before encountering slightly more challenging terrain. I think Nugara calls this “easy” but if you’re more of a hiker than a scrambler you will find it “moderate”. You can stick right to the ridge crest but travel is slow there. We found traversing on climbers left of the ridge a wee bit quicker (not much) and eventually we crossed over to climbers right to finish that part of the traverse.
[The ridge traverse from Vimy Peak starts off very easy with great views across the Crypt Creek to Mount Boswell and Cleveland in the far distance.]
[The views to the east are nice too! Arras is visible along the snaking ridge in the far distance.]
[Great views to Mount Boswell and up towards Crypt Lake.]
[Upper and Lower Crypt Lakes]
[A look across Crypt Creek back to Vimy Peak on the right. ++]
[Can't get enough of Custer...]
[Lovely color on Sofa Mountain]
[Looking back at a high point with Vimy Peak on the far left and Sofa Mountain on the right.]
[The terrain gets slightly more complicated between Vimy Peak and Arras.]
[Phil traverses back onto the ridge proper after we did a slight detour on climber's left.]
The expansive views towards Crypt Lake on one side and Sofa Mountain on the other, with Mount Cleveland looming over everything kept us entertained while we travelled. Phil’s favourite lines are “but why is it like that?” and “what made it do that?” and he applies this liberally to the micro terrain as well as the macro. (He has two masters degrees and a doctrate...) Waterton, with its fantastic smorgasbord of rock and vegetation, provided "Dr. Phil" (ROTFLMAO) with many such opportunities of scientific inquiry. There were rocks and crystals of many shapes, colors and arrangements along the entire ridge. Some sections looked like patio bricks, complete with perfectly straight lines and interlocking pieces. Other sections had small erratic lumps of rock that didn’t seem to belong. In yet other sections there were old, gnarled trees that had to be hundreds of years old with their offspring nestled in their arms, protected from the wind even as the ancient ones finally gave up their lives in this harshest of environments. Phil and I both decided that he needed to get another masters or doctorate degree in geology sometime soon in order to start answering some of his own damn questions!
[Facinating micro terrain all along the ridge.]
[The view of the entire Crypt Lake valley, stream waterfalls and lakes is incredible from up here! ++]
[Looking back at the traverse - it's already quite a long ways back to Vimy Peak. ++]
[Stunning color around Lower Crypt Lake]
The best views of Crypt Lake were from the final ridge leading up to Arras. After this point we ended up passing the lake and it was hidden from view. I’ve never done the hike to Crypt but it looked pretty fantastic from above. A huge waterfall pouring over a caved in area looked particularly interesting. I think a very nice loop would be scrambling Vimy Peak, Arras Peak and GR939323 before descending to Crypt Lake and exiting via the Wishbone trail back to your bike at the Crypt / Vimy Peak junction. That would be an excellent but very long day! (Incidentally some guy from Europe did this loop in reverse in two days but I think he even used a boat to access Crypt Lake first.)
[An interesting waterfall along the Crypt Stream / Lake approach hike.]
[The lovely Crypt Lake]
[Phil climbs up towards Arras Peak]
[More amazing colors from Richards to Alderson to Carthew and Bertha peaks.]
[Can't get enough of these views! Looking across Ruby Ridge to Buchanan, Galwey, Carthew and Dungarvon.]
[Looking all the way back to Vimy Peak with Bellevue Hill and Galwey beyond.]
[I think Phil would almost fit in the summit register!]
[A 30 or 40x decrease in the number of register entries compared to Vimy Peak!]
[That's it. Only 1.5 pages, compared to 30 in the last register. I guess the moderate scrambling and distance really turns most folks off.]
Getting up to Arras was easy after the jagged traverse and soon we were enjoying another pretty much windless summit with expansive views in every direction. I didn’t realize this peak was called “Arras” until looking in the register. I have no idea why this isn’t officially called Arras with the high point on the end of the ridge called “Vimy Ridge” but such is the nature of naming nature I guess. After enjoying some great views we kept on towards GR939323 because as Andrew says, “why not?”