One of the best mountain days in the UK can be to scramble the North Ridge of Tryfan, which you can do on a scrambling course in Snowdonia. If you are relatively new to scrambling then book an introduction to scrambling course. Perhaps you already have a reasonable level of scrambling experience. If so, then a learn to lead scramble course will teach you the skills to protect a party on more technical scrambles.
The scramble up the North Ridge of Tryfan is probably the single most famous ‘must do’ Grade 1 scramble in the UK. It is an iconic mountain and one of the few UK summits that you cannot reach using feet alone. Your hands will come into play at some point, whichever route you choose. It is a scrambler’s paradise with many routes on offer – a popular choice for our Snowdonia scrambling courses.
The start of the North Ridge from the Ogwen Valley seems benign enough. A good path leads up from the roadside towards a gentle heathery shoulder. But on reaching this shoulder the nature of the route changes and you suddenly appreciate what you are dealing with. There isn’t an obvious single ‘North Ridge’, but more a hillside offering numerous choice of ridges, buttresses and gullies. Many of the options are climbable but some less so.
After a while the ridge becomes more defined and you find yourself at the famous Cannon rock. This always makes a great photograph. It is visible from the valley below, but a slip off the rock in the wet would not be pleasant, so care is required. From here, the route becomes more obvious with several sections of enjoyable scrambling, all with options to avoid hard parts.
Suddenly a flattening is reached and you have arrived at the base of the North Tower. This is where things get serious. The tower can be taken head on, but it noticeably harder and more serious than anything else on the route. This is not straightforward Grade 1 scrambling. Another option is to avoid the tower by opting for the Eastern Traverse, but you have to know where you are going and how you will regain the ridge or summit.
If you take the North Tower, you will then have to deal with the awkward down-climb into ‘The Notch’. After this, obvious and generally easy scrambling leads finally to the summit plateau, though there are a couple of tricky steps. Once on the summit, the two stone monoliths of Adam and Eve are unmistakable. Tradition has it that leaping between the two stones gains you ‘the freedom of Tryfan’. Take care though – this is not advisable if it’s windy or the rock is wet.
Having scrambled up the North Ridge, the easiest way down Tryfan is to follow the South Ridge in the direction of Bwlch Tryfan. From here you can descend to Llyn Bochlwyd, or reach the Ogwen valley again via Heather Terrace. Or, if you have the time and energy, continue up Bristly Ridge to Glyder Fach.
Be aware, however, that the North Ridge of Tryfan is an accident blackspot and the scene of many mountain rescues, accidents and deaths. This is partly because its popularity skews the statistics. If more people go there then its inevitable that more accidents will happen there. However, it is also the nature of the route that catches people out. The easy start lulls you into a false sense of security. The difficulties are all further up near the top or the route.
Many decide that this is the point that they should turn around. On the face of it that seems a sensible decision. But finding a safe way down again is not as easy as it sounds. People get into difficulty on their way down and this is when the accidents occur. If you are in any doubt whatsoever about your ability to do this route, then play it safe and book a guide.
If you’d like to know more about a scramble on the North Ridge of Tryfan or any other scrambling course in Snowdonia then just get in touch. Or ask us about scrambling in the Lake District, or about our rock climbing courses,