Snowdon via Crib Goch (mountaineering) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

A classic way to the top of Snowdon. Always busy, and often in cloud, it's still a route to tick off.

Conditions

Rocky mountain paths, and some Grade 1 scrambling. The moves are not particular hard, but huge exposure, and polished rock makes this challenging for most.

Hazards and warnings

Crib Goch has been the scene of many accidents. Even in summer conditions the large drops make for some scary moves, which can't be avoided. In winter the route becomes far harder.

Detailed description

From the car park, head up the path to the left of the main ridge. When the path climbs onto the ridge proper, head up the steep flanks of Crib Goch, rather than following the Pyg track to the left. As you climb the ridge you get the first taste of the difficulties to come, with some rocky sections to scramble over. If you don't feel confident, or the wind is strong, take the Pyg track instead, as Crib Goch is something you can't avoid once you start.

Once you have gained the top of the ridge, stay on top of the ridge. There's a huge steep drop to the right, and steep rocky ground to the left. The hardest scrambling is along the very top of the ridge. Some of the tricky moves can be avoided by taking the path slightly to the left of the ridge (in snow you can't easily see this), but you will come to a section where a huge tooth like outcrop, a 'gendarm', blocks you way, and the only way ahead is to climb over it, which involves some very scary moves, on very polished rock (think of the thousands who have gone before you wearing away the rock). After this, the going becomes easier, and you descent slightly to where the ridge becomes slightly wider. The you start the long slog up to Crib y Ddsygl. There are again some scrambling moves, on the crest of the ridge, but these can be avoided.

At the top of Crib y Ddsygl, follow the path SW to the saddle, where you'll see the Snowdon Mountain Railway track on it's final stretch to the summit. Follow the path, not the railway, to the summit buildings, and the summit of Snowdon. In any weather, at any time of the year, you'll be sharing this with many others who have come up the mountain from many different paths.

To descend, retrace your footsteeps to the saddle between Snowdon and Crib y Ddsygl, and look for a path emerging on the right from the top of the screes by the large standing stone (which is a useful feature in fog). Follow the steep zig zagged path down. Just about the lake, make sure you pick up the start of the Pyg track, rather than the path which comes up from the lakes below. Follow the Pgy track, which is far easier than the rest of the walk down to the start again.

Those wanting an even bigger day out might want to carry on around the other half of the Snowdon Horseshoe, and carry on via Y Lliwedd to complete the full Snowdon Horseshoe. If you do, you'll need to be fit and allow plenty of time as it's a long day's walk with a lot of difficult ground, which winter conditions becomes a real race to finish in the limited daylight available, especially as snow and ice will slow your progress.

Narrative

There can't be many people who consider themselves experienced hill walkers who haven't tried this route. The crowds might put you off, but climbing Snowdon this may gives you a true sense of having climbed a proper mountain.

The highlight of the route is of course Crib Goch. The easy to reach location and it's reputation mean that the ridge is always very popular, with crowds of people waiting to pass some of the harder bits. Despite it's popularity, it's not an easy route, with a lot of climbing, and some scary, scary sections. If you think it's all subjective, rather than objective danger, the grim statistics of injuries and deaths on the ridge will change your mind! Despite only being a grade 1 scramble, like the North Ridge of Tryfan, or Striding Edge, it's far, far more exposed than either of those, with a higher degree of commitment, as the hardest and most scary parts can't be avoided, and the drop to your right is huge.

When I have done this in summer, it's been a challenging walk, with some airy, exposed scrambling, along a knife edged ridge. In winter, it's been a far harder experience, as the snow and ice coating the rocks of the ridge make the scrambling far more scary: although crampons will grip ice pretty well, the polished rock is no fun at all in crampons. Fortunatly, the weather was good, which means that although you are only too aware of the exposure, there was no wind to worry about. In any season, there's a great sense of satisfaction once you reach the flat spot on the ridge below Crib y Ddysgl, and know the hardest part is past.

 

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