Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crib Goch & Snowdon

Date: 30th May 2013
Route: from Pen-y-Pass, Pyg Track(ish), Crib Goch, Garnedd Ugain, Snowdon and back via the Miners Track
Peak Heights: Crib Goch arête 923m (3028 feet), Garnedd Ugain 1065m (3494 feet), Snowdon 1085m (3560 feet) 
Distance: 7.4 miles (11.9 km) 
Height gained: 1038m (3406 feet) 
Time taken: 5 hours



The route: anticlockwise from Pen-y-Pass
  
 This was a hike I had wanted to try for a long while. During a family holiday in North Wales I managed to secure a day pass with a reasonable forecast to give it a go. Having been dropped off at Pen-y-Pass I headed up along a ridge between the Miners Track and Pyg Track to get some pictures of the route ahead. It looked spectacular, and a bit daunting.


From left to right: Y Lliwedd, Snowdon, Crib Goch


Snowdon & Crib Goch from 'The Horns'


The point where the path up to Crib Goch leaves the Pyg Track

 From leaving the Pyg Track, at a point about halfway up (just beyond that first outcrop) the path becomes indistinct. I first tried a route to the left but it quickly became too steep and so I traversed around to the right and climbed up the steep rocky face, seen on the right of the picture above. This proved fairly straight forward but involved the use of hands and feet for most of the way.


Getting steep


The view back. Pen-y-Pass just visible on the left


The start of Crib Goch arête - a hiker just visible on the nearest (2nd) pinnacle

 The Crib Goch arête consists of 3 rocky pinnacles linked by a knife edge ridge. The 1st pinnacle is gained at initial ascent. The view above looks on to the 2nd and 3rd pinnacles. Most of the arête is very narrow and steeply exposed on both sides. Beyond Crib Goch there is a col (Bwich Coch) following which the ridge can be seen rising to Garnedd Ugain (also known as Crib-y-Ddysgl) and then on to Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), seen far left.

 
Once on Grib Goch my options were to either attempt a calm & cool demeanor and walk along with a look of conviction, or to edge along slowly using hands & knees whilst looking terrified. I did mainly the latter, until a fell runner 'ran' past me and I decided that I should 'man up'. Continuing on, with the illusion of confidence, I carefully picked my route across the ridge. Unlike striding edge, there appeared to be no easier option found off to the side.



A welcome 'flat' resting place between pinnacles 1 & 2 - time to restore the nerves



That's the way to do it ! (but that's not me)


The view from the 2nd pinnacle

 At about the point where the hiker in blue can be seen, between the 2nd and 3rd pinnacles, there is a route option. The easier, and most obvious way seems to drop down along a gulley to the left and then skirt the remaining part of the ridge low on the left. Both hikers above, eventually went that way after some apparent indecision. When I got there it was obvious that the lower path was quite a long way round and a somewhat unsatisfactory & early conclusion to the ridge walk. I decided to cautiously venture onward along this 3rd pinnacle. There was no clear path and the way forwards was a real scramble at times but I edged along, half expecting to have to turn back and follow the other hikers. Eventually however, the way became more obvious and less exposed, finally dropping down to a short but steep descent to the col shown below (Bwlch Coch).



The Bwlch Coch Col - Garnedd Ugain ahead & Snowdon summit far left

 
Bwlch Coch marks the end of the Crib Goch arête. I was pleased that I had persisted with the direct route as upon arriving at the col I could see the other hikers way back and down to the left. From here onward the way seemed direct and the path reassuringly wider but there was to be some more scrambling to be done before gaining the summit of Garnedd Ugain, due to the rocky outcrop visible just below its summit.



Mist descends on the path to Garnedd Ugain

 Another series of steepish scrambles, unfortunately in cloud, and I eventually emerged onto the broad summit ridge.


Garnedd Ugain summit


Looking back along the ridge to Crib Goch from Garnedd Ugain summit









 
 From this point on it's now a easy walk. With a real sense of achievement I continued on towards the summit of Snowdon.


Snowdon from Garnedd Ugain - lots of 'ants' visible on the summit ridge


Snowdon and the ridge to Y Lliwedd

 Descending from Garnedd Ugain to the main Snowdon ridge was like joining a traffic jam after enjoying quiet country roads. The path to the summit then gets even busier at it is joined by the combined footfall from the Miners and Pyg Tracks and then all the folk from the train.  


A typical scene on Snowdon's summit

 The summit was shrouded in cloud so I quickly headed back down the ridge and took the main route down towards Glaslyn, following the Miners Track where the path splits.


Looking back to Crib Goch and the descent path from the Snowdon ridge


The path down, showing where the Pyg Track & Miners Track diverge from the main path



The busy path down with one hiker just visible on Garnedd Ugain summit






Glaslyn


A last look back to Snowdon from the Miners Track before reaching Pen-y-Pass

 This is a great route but its really not for the faint hearted. I would suggest testing your metal on something like striding edge and Blenacathra's sharp edge before attempting this. The Snowdonia National Park Authority describe Crib Goch as "not a mountain for the inexperienced". For those who try it, choose a calm, clear & dry day and you will rewarded by some truly epic views and an equally epic sense of achievement.

3 comments:

  1. Enjoyed this Steve. Nice write up and photos thanks.

    I have done Grib Goch 4 or 5 times but not for 20 odd y ears now so bought back memories. First time I did it was as a student in snow ans with some ice which would terrify me now. That was the first time I saw a brocken spectre - amazing.

    David
    www.fellbound.co.uk

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  2. PS I can really spelly eg brought not bought :)

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  3. Thanks David. You must have been made of tuff stuff to tackle this in winter. That's real mountaineering! This was my first attempt but will be definitely not be the last. I found it an exhilarating ridge but its reputation had me a bit on edge. Next time, with the confidence of having 'popped my Crib Goch cherry' it should be a more enjoyable experience.

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