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Crib Goch – Scrambling on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)

By 1st August 2020November 17th, 2022Scrambling, Summer


Scrambling Crib Goch on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is usually right at the top of any ‘tick list’ for someone getting into scrambling. It’s a brilliant way to the summit itself or makes a great first half of the day if you do the full Horseshoe.

With the exception of a couple of parts of Scotland, the scrambling available in Eryri (Snowdonia) is generally the best in the whole of the UK. That in turn, has its roots in the geological history of Eryri. Ancient volcanic activity, millions of years of erosion and finally glaciation have created sharp rocky peaks and ridges. This really is a paradise for scramblers.

Booking and Prices

If you’d like to know more about some guided scrambling on Crib Goch on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), then see the main page for more details and prices or see what our clients say about us. You can also have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events.

When you are ready, then get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

We offer a whole range of scrambling courses and guided scrambles in Eryri (Snowdonia). These range from courses for the complete novice to those wanting to learn rope work skills for scrambling in the UK to mountaineering in the Alps.

Other options for easier scrambling in Eryri (Snowdonia) include the North Ridge of Tryfan.

We also run scrambling courses in the Lake District and on the west coast of Scotland.

Scrambling Crib Goch on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)

Two scramblers heading along Crib Goch with the summit of Snowdon in the background during a scrambling course in Snowdonia
Scrambling along Crib Goch with Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) behind

One of your most exhilarating mountain experiences could be scrambling along Crib Goch to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). The Crib Goch ridge connects the summit of Crib Goch with Garnedd Ugain and from there to Yr Wyddfa.

People often describe it as being a “knife-edge”, with isn’t completely the case, but it certainly is very exposed. There is a very steep slope on one side and an even steeper cliff on the other! The best way to tackle it is simply to walk upright along the crest. However, for many this is too daunting. It’s a common sight to see people on all fours moving cautiously along, but this actually makes it more difficult.

On a fine day, the views are spectacular. But on a windy day an exposed ridge is not really the place to be, as the photo makes obvious. In this picture, we have just completed the Clogwyn y Person Arete and are now descending Crib Goch ‘the wrong way’, meaning against the flow of the majority of scramblers who move anti-clockwise towards Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). As you can see, it’s quiet up there because everyone else has already gone up and we are on the way down.

Starting the Scramble on Crib Goch

The usual start for doing Crib Goch is from Pen y Pass. From here, as you look up, Crib Goch is the obvious main summit that is visible. Quite a few walkers assume this is Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and keep their eyes on it and head that way. There are signs at Pen y Pass warning of this common mistake. An easy walk up one of Yr Wyddfa’s paths will become a scary scramble when you find yourself unexpectedly on Crib Goch!

To start with, from Pen y Pass you follow the main PyG track along with hundreds of others towards Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Soon the path crosses the ridge of the horseshoe shape at Bwlch y Moch and the mountain’s lakes first come into view. At this point you strike off to the right towards the Crib Goch – the ‘red ridge’ in Welsh. At first this is just a steep broken path, but before long you will be at the foot of a short, steep wall. It appears to be guarding the foot of Crib Goch. There are several ways to climb this, but it is one of steeper and more technical sections and it stops a fair few people in their tracks.

The ‘Knife Edge’ of Crib Goch

A scrambler heads along Crib Goch on Snowdon during a scrambling course in Snowdonia
Moving along Crib Goch

Easier scrambling leads to the summit of Crib Goch, and then the fun really starts. First comes the exposed narrow ridge of Crib Goch – the ‘knife edge’. This responds best to a confident approach and you should just walk upright along it. Then come the pinnacles, with a few sections of climbing both up and down. The gaps between the pinnacles are very atmospheric places and make great photographs. But before long, the Crib Goch ridge is over. A wide open, flat grassy areas marks the end and is a good place to pause.

The scrambling isn’t over, however. You now continue along the ridge of Garnedd Ugain which has a few interesting scrambling steps in it. Finally, it flattens out and the trig point on the top comes into view. From here way walking, first down, then back up leads to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Descending off Garnedd Ugain will bring you back into contact with the masses. It is here that the PyG and Miners’ paths meet the Llanberis path.  So you can expect to be in a long queue from this point forward.

You can descend via any of Yr Wyddfa’s (Snowdon) paths, depending on how you wish to regain your car. But the best and quietest option, though the longest and hardest, will be to complete the whole of the Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) Horseshoe by continuing to Y Lliwedd. You can then be doubly proud of your day’s achievement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Crib Goch?

Crib Goch is a ridge and subsidiary summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), in North Wales. It is connected to the main summit of Yr Wyddfa. Crib Goch forms one side of the ‘Snowdon Horseshoe’ where two ridges drop away from the summit of Yr Wyddfa forming a horseshoe shape which surrounds three of the mountain’s lakes below.

What does Crib Goch mean?

Crib Goch is the Welsh language for ‘red ridge’. It is called this because of the rusty-red coloured rock which makes up most of the ridge. It’s pronounced something like “chreeb gawch” (not “krib gok”).

How high is Crib Goch?

The highest point of Crib Goch is 923 metres high (or 3,028 ft).

Is Crib Goch dangerous?

Crib Goch is inherently a very dangerous place. Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team say Crib Goch is “extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by novice walkers”. The main danger is slipping, falling or (in high wind) being blown off the steep and narrow parts of the ridge. There are many accidents, including fatalities here.

However, experienced scramblers and mountain-goers who are confident in their movement and judgement of conditions are usually able to negotiate the ridge completely safely. For the experienced, it is an exciting and enjoyable mountain journey which is highly recommended and popular.

How difficult is it to walk on Crib Goch?

Crib Goch is a Grade 1 scramble on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). This means that you need to use your hands to climb short steep sections. Although these are relatively easy, in rock-climbing terms, the consequences of slipping off at these points could be fatal.

Along the crest of the ridge, the best approach is to stand tall and walk normally. However, for many people this feels like walking a tightrope and the steep drops below scare them. Because they are afraid, they crouch down and move in a semi-squatting manner. Ironically, although this increases the feeling of security it actually upsets the balance of the human body and makes a slip or tumble more likely.

Good footwork, balance and a head for heights are essential to move along Crib Goch safely.

Is Crib Goch sign-posted?

When approaching on the PyG Track from Pen y Pass, at Bwlch y Moch there is a sign indicating the way to Crib Goch. The main reason for this is to point out to the many people ascending the PyG Track that this is not the right way for them. It is mainly to act as a warning.

After this, there are no more signs on the route as Crib Goch is generally not sign-posted.

How many ways are there up Crib Goch?

There are two main routes up Crib Goch from Pen y Pass, both of which are Grade 1 scrambles. These are the East Ridge and the North Ridge.

The overwhelming majority of people climbing Crib Goch use the East Ridge, and consider this the ‘normal’ route, from the sign at Bwlch y Moch.

The North Ridge is more complicated to find, especially in bad weather, and involves more of a detour so it makes a longer journey. It is much less travelled for these reasons. You can approach it from Llanberis via Cwm Glas; or via a very faint and tricky path from Bwlch y Moch known as the Foxes’ Path. You need a high level of skill to follow this. If it is your first attempt on Crib Goch the East Ridge is the better choice by far.

Of course, it is also possible to approach Crib Goch from the other direction and do it the opposite way to the majority.

Is Crib Goch harder than Striding Edge?

In some respects, they are both comparable. They are both Grade 1 scrambles and are long narrow ridges with steep drops either side. They both have brief sections of steep climbing, of about the same technical difficulty. Both of them are places to avoid in high wind.

Crib Goch, however, is a ‘bigger’ version of Striding Edge. Everything is more exaggerated. The approach is steeper; the drops are bigger; the climbs are harder, longer and more frequent; there are fewer (basically none) places to escape the ridge if you find it difficult.

A good plan would be to scramble Striding Edge (on Helvellyn in the Lake District) first, and if you find it okay then progress on to Crib Goch on Snowdon another time.

What footwear is best on Crib Goch?

The best footwear is whatever you can move in most confidently and competently on steep rocky terrain, including climbing, even if the rock is wet.

For some people, this will be a pair of mountain walking/hiking boots. Others may prefer a lighter shoe, such as an ‘approach shoe’ or trail running shoe.

Whatever your choice, a good grippy sole is essential.

What kit do I need to scramble Crib Goch?

If you are going onto Crib Goch you should have all of the following:- (1) Good footwear with a grippy rubber sole – either a good walking/hiking boot or, if you are used to them, a good quality trail running shoe. (2) A waterproof jacket (such as Gore-Tex). (3) A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. There are no signposts and you should not rely on a smartphone alone. (4) A head-torch, in case you are delayed on your walk, or have planned a long walk.

Do I need a map to scramble Crib Goch?

Although you do not need a map to follow the crest of the ridge, if you are going up any of the mountains in the UK, including Crib Goch, you should always take a map and compass and have the knowledge of how to use them. There are no sign-posts and it is easy to lose your way in the mist and cloud.  It is easy to stray onto dangerous terrain once you are off the path. You should not rely on a smartphone alone, though it is a useful additional thing to have. Booking onto a mountain navigation course might be a good idea.