Tryfan - 917m
Sunday 23rd October 2011

Weather/Conditions: Cloudy and dry, with wind higher up. Colder on descent, but the ridge was very fun even though the rock was damp. The beautiful holds made up for this lack of grip though.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 3.1km / 600m / 4h
Accompanying: Mackenzie

Tryfan is amazing, a brilliant hill. It's the classic climbers mountain; steep, bristling with pinnacles. It rises straight from the road to a summit that pierces the 3000-foot mark. Twin summit pinnacles are thoughtfully dubbed Adam and Eve. Mackenzie and I climbed it during the WalkHighlands Wales meet, and we'd all done the Snowdon Horseshoe the previous day. (That was an classic traverse.) Today would complete the weekend with Tryfan's stunning north ridge. It's reputation is of being one of the best aesthetic lines in Wales.

Nathan drove us to Ogwen valley (Mackenzie doesn't drive and I didn't have a car) and we started up the mountain immediately. I mean immediately: Tryfan just rises straight off the road and we began the long climb which goes straight to 3000 feet. The other noticeable thing about the area was the amount of cars parked in the valleys. For all the mountains, Snowdonia is very well used.

We walked up the path a bit then cut right to the rock buttresses as soon as possible. I knew it was going to be good from the outset. Tryfan has really solid rock, great blocks that are angled perfectly to hold onto. We scrambled between the rock steps, every one fun, intricate and slightly challenging - even though the rock was wet and a bit greasy. When you climb a mountain like Tryfan and look around to the Glyders and Ogwen Valley (not to mention Snowdon and Llanberis Pass), it's easy to see why Snowdonia is such a centre of rock climbing. Rock bristles from the ground everywhere and buttress climb in succession up mountain sides. It would be so easy to become a rock climber here.

The ridge was continually steep, but the scrambling came in wee pieces. I never felt in danger (you'd only fall 10 or so feet on each move) and the moves could be enjoyed to the maximum. Somewhere around half-way, there is a great feature called The Cannon, an elongated boulder sticking out from the main face. I went out to it's edge while Mackenzie got pictures, but I found it a bit slimy and exposed for comfort.

Higher up, we took some steep ground direct, and the route I took culminated in (I estimate) a Moderate graded chimney - steep enough to be hanging off hands, swapping foot placements and going for higher holds above. This was absolutely the highlight, the pinnacle of two continual hours of super-fun scrambling.

By that, I mean: everyone going to Snowdonia should do Tryfan North Ridge. It is amazing.

The angle of the ridge eased for the last section and scrambling up big boulders brought us to the distinctive summit blocks Adam and Eve. They look like they've been placed, such is their distinction. The weather wasn't so good up here - a cool wind blew and the rocks were slimy as before. I climbed onto one - it had to be done. And then Mackenzie and I made a hasty retreat off the South Ridge where we found a shelter of overhanging blocks out of the chilling wind.

After some snacks, we continued descending and I stopped by Far South Peak. We descended via. Heather Terrace. The entrance onto this ledge is surprisingly hard to find - Mackenzie went straight for it, although he'd been here before. I think I wouldn't have found it if I'd been on my own. Crags tower skyward from here and to know we'd just been above them all on the North Ridge... what a thought!

When we got back to the road, Nathan and Andy (aka. Stretch) were waiting at the car park. We went back to Mackenzie's, I packed my stuff and we were soon away for the long (...long...) drive back to Scotland.

All in all, I think it's a shame that Wales is so far away - I want to do Tryfan again! The mountains are not as big as in Scotland but they are super accessible, maximum fun for minimal effort, and have their share of rock. And none of that is an insult, either. It's a great place.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.20am Ogwen Valley
(2.00) 11.20am Tryfan
(4.00) 1.20pm Ogwen Valley

Written: 2012-01-15