A Piece of Tryfan
19th October 2014 by Al Jones
A spontaneous trip to north Wales this weekend provided much entertainment and a much needed break from work (Don’t tell the manager!!).
Myself and climbing partner Ben, headed south, and with the forecast looking so bleak, scrambles and wet trudges were foremost in our minds. However, in true mountain fashion, the forecast turned out to be totally wrong.
After a long drive down from Ambleside we decided to get straight out onto the hill. Tryfan and the Glyders was the objective and with obvious dry rock on offer we chose the grade three scramble Milestone Buttress Approach.
The slightly damp polished rock made for amazing and exposed climbing, a great alternative to the ordinary ridge route (North Ridge) leading to the summit of Tryfan. Confident and experienced scramblers would have no problems en route, however for the less experienced a rope is advised and small scrambling rack would be ideal.
The North Ridge route (Grade 1) provides a fun and achievable ascent of Tryfan; with the use of hands required on occasion this route is a gem and would suit as a great introduction to scrambling. The two routes linked ensured plenty of quality scrambling from the valley floor to the summit. After a memorable ascent, we found the summit also wields some treats.
For the more daring in the party the Adam and Eve stones can provide a heart in the mouth challenge for the participant and on lookers alike. Mount the first stone (often with little dignity!) and if you dare, make the leap of around four feet to the other, “if” you make it you supposedly gain healthy amounts of good luck!
With Tryfan in the bag we turned our attention to the Glyders, Fach and Fawr. After a rocky descent, you find another towering buttress of rock leading to the summit of Glyder Fach. The choice of routes is quite diverse and we opted for the grade 3 Main Gully Ridge. Once again exposed and quite serious in places, this route is more advanced but on sound rock with plenty of protection for the roped party. Altogether the ascent of both summits was an amazing day out with a total ascent of around 700m of quality scrambling. On descent we took in Glyder Fawr and opted to descend the ridge leading back to Ogwen cottage.
With the weather looking good for the next day, we decided (over a pint of Glaslyn Ale, very tasty!) to head over to Llanberis and have a cragging day at Dinas Cromlech. The weather was, as promised, amazing for climbing, dry, sunny and with a slight wind to dry off the previous week’s rain. Perfect! After a brew we headed up the steep ascent to the crag, a handy warm up after a cold nights camping in the valley. We started on Dives/Better things, a HS which starts well up a steep crack and across an often damp traverse to the belay ledge. The second pitch left us both speechless. An amazing corner crack leads up a bulging open book corner. Ben made short work of this superb pitch, using an array of techniques as you wind in and out of the crack, making use of the exposed arête and walls either side of the corner. Well worth the three stars awarded in the guide book.
The second route was another classic, Sabre Cut, a VS which certainly makes you think! A good pitch leads up to a large open book corner that puts up a fight! Overall both routes were well worth their classic status and a must do for any climber visiting the Pass.
Feeling slightly bloated after a large Chinese and beers the night before we headed off from the Cromlech boulders car park with Snowdon via Crib Goch in mind. With just a morning left before heading home and the weather starting to crap out, speed was of the essence. However, Crib Goch was simply too much fun to rush.
For anyone looking for an alternative to the normal PYG track and with a head for heights, this is the only option. At grade 1 the scrambling isn’t difficult and the harder bits are avoidable, but the 270m drop on the north side does make you look carefully to each step. The route is not to be underestimated, it certainly is challenging (especially in bad conditions) and has a mountaineering feel to it, but the scrambler with confidence in their feet will find it amazing. After taking in the summit of Snowdon (not too many crowds this time) we swiftly descended back down the railway, waving at the passing trains and the slightly less tired people aboard them, we took a less trodden route straight back into the pass.
Overall the weekend was a big success, mostly due to the weather, but I am sure we would both recommend any of the routes taken if you are heading over there before winter sets in! During the trip I used the Deuter Guide 35+ bag which is simply brilliant for scrambling, hiking and even carrying your big lunch up to the crag! The Arc’teryx Gamma rock pant also performed superbly, they are super stretchy for those more “interesting” moves and keep the majority of the weather out. The North Wales Rock Guide published by Ground Up and the Climber’s Club Llanberis guide are great additions to anybody’s bookshelf too.