Distance: 9.5 miles / 15.3km
Ascent: 3600ft / 1097m
Terrain: Grade 1 scrambling, grassy off-path sections, rocky summit plateau, scree
Tryfan and Y Gribin are usually tackled together as part of the classic Bochlwyd Horseshoe. This justifiably popular route contains some of the best grade 1 scrambling Snowdonia has to offer. However, its popularity means it gets very busy on fine weekends. This alternative route contains less scrambling (and less summits) but, equally, far less crowds. After succumbing to convention with an ascent of Tryfan’s north ridge, we head off-piste to explore lonely upper Cwm Bochlwyd, before heading on to Glyder Fawr via a scramble up False Gribin and Y Gribin. Descent through the Devil’s Kitchen provides ample opportunity to marvel at the geology and flora that drew Darwin to Cwm Idwal all those years ago.
- Start from any of the lay-bys or carparks alongside the A5 between the base of Tryfan and Ogwen cottage, then make your way over to the base of Tryfan’s north ridge.
- Walk up the steep, heather clad lower slopes of the north ridge, below the Milestone Buttress, to the top of a shoulder then turn towards the rock, pick your line and scramble upwards. Make it as hard or as easy as you like but stick near the broad crest for the best rock. Soon a level section is reached, with the famous Cannon jutting out over on the right. Obligatory photo opportunity!
- Continue scrambling upwards to the left of the Cannon to another level section, where the ridge narrows and rears up into a clean rock rib, the North Tower. Ascend by the easiest line or avoid by going left then back right up a gully to a notch. Scramble out of the notch to gain the North Summit.
- Continue easily along the crest to the main summit, mingle with the crowds and risk the leap between Adam & Eve, the twin summit monoliths, if you dare.
- Descend Tryfan’s south ridge, generally veering towards the west flank to avoid the sudden, frequent emergence of steep drops. With patience, you will soon find yourself at the prominent col of Bwlch Tryfan. Turn right here to join the descent path to Cwm Bochlwyd, but quickly veer off left (west) across grass, heading for the valley up behind Llyn Bochlwyd.
- Explore peaceful upper Cwm Bochlwyd at will. Wild flowers abound in the grasslands during the summer and feral goats may be spotted by the small pool sitting just above the 700m contour, while climbers ply their trade on the steep cliffs of Glyder Fach above.
- When ready, make your way westwards over towards the steep, rocky flank of Y Gribin and trend down hill (north) a short way to find a grassy break in the defences. Once breached, this should put you onto the broad ridge of the False Gribin. Despite the name, this rocky spur is the true continuation of the rocky crest of Y Gribin up above. Scramble easily upwards to the edge of the broad grassy area known as the ‘football field’.
- The rocky spine of Y Gribin now rises ahead. Tackle the crest direct for maximum exhilaration, or stay on the west flank to make life easier. Upon reaching the rocky summit area, head right and follow the rim round towards the summit rock piles of Glyder Fawr.
- From Glyder Fawr summit, a cairned path trends south west then north west down steep scree gutters to Llyn y Cwn, where the path descending north east down the Devil’s Kitchen cliffs is met. For an alternative, more unpleasant but much quieter way, head north from Glyder Fawr’s summit down loose scree and steep grass slopes to the grassy rake that caps the top of the main Idwal facing cliffs. Here, trend left (west) to pick up the Devil’s Kitchen path. Follow the path down, taking either the left or the right fork around Llyn Idwal to eventually reach the roadside at Ogwen Cottage.