Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

By Dave Roberts   

on January 3, 2021   5/5 (3)

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

Further Details

Route Summary:

Crib Goch is the hardest route to the summit of Snowdon, and the best of the lot if you’ve the mountaineering experience to tackle it.

Start and Finish: Pen y Pass

Distance: 4.94 km

Ascent: 763 m

Time: 3.5 hours

Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Before You Walk up Snowdon, ask yourselfAre you equipped? Do you know what you’re doing? Are the conditions safe? If you answer no to any of these, stay safe, don’t go! Check the weather forecast and make sure you know about walking up Snowdon in the Snow. If you lack experience – hire a Snowdon Mountain Guide.

Facilities:

Good cafe and YHA with bar, public toilets at Pen y Pas.

Public Transport:

Sherpa Buses from Llanberis and Betws y Coed

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Hazards:

This is an exposed scramble to be attempted only by those with experience and a head for heights! Read the full article for the details.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path,  Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.

Snowdon Guidebooks:

Recommended Snowdon Maps

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

The Crib Goch scramble from Pen-y-pass is the toughest ‘walk’ up Snowdon, and one of the best scrambling routes in the country. It’s also one of the most exposed and difficult route on Walk up Snowdon and the one you should do if you really want to “climb” Snowdon.

How Hard is Crib Goch? The Crib Goch ridge is very exposed and somewhat similar to walking on the apex of a shallow roof. Recommended for those with head for heights only as this really is a rough, tough and challenging route up Snowdon. If you’re not familiar with mountain walking, move along and find another more suitable route up Snowdon or hire a Snowdon mountain guide to do it safely.

What Grade Scramble is Crib Goch? Crib Goch is a Grade 1 Scramble, which means that the competent scrambler shouldn’t need ropes and shouldn’t find any technical sections beyond their capabilities. The operative word being – competent. It’s still in a totally different league compared to the other walks up Snowdon.

What about the Bad Step on Crib Goch? What bad step? Seems that every mountain an its dog has a ‘bad step’ – and most often this refers to a section on the ascent on Crib Goch. However, we wouldn’t actually call this a Bad Step but more of a respite from the more loose ascent. There are much tougher sections further on, such as the first pinnacle, which does have a tricky manoeuvre to it’s right to get around. There are also a couple more vertical sections on Crib y Ddysgl. Either way, if you’re comfortable at scrambling at Grade 1 then these should all strike you as Good Steps – as the more actual hand on rock, the better in our view!

What About the Crib Goch Pinnacles then? Ok – these can be challenging, and require a couple of airy steps to traverse. All part of the fun.

Can I walk Crib Goch in Winter or in Snow? Absolutely not – not if you think it’s a walk. It’s a full on winter mountaineering traverse in winter conditions, requiring more technical skills than winter hill walking.

Follow the Pyg track as far as Bwlch y Moch, where there’s a clear sign pointing uphill.

Full Scrambling Route Guide

1 Start on the PYG track and at Bwlch Y Moch, follow the path right. It’s signposted Crib Goch on the marker rock.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

2 Follow the steep path and scramble uphill. It’s initially a path and if you’re going to take a break, it’s recommended you do so here.

3 The path from this point on becomes a full on scramble – and care is needed. It may not be exposed, but your arms will ache as you climb the final 200 metres vertically while only travelling 400m on the map.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

4 On reaching the top of the scramble, you top off on the Crib Goch ridge which is surprisingly flat at this point and usually rather busy as walkers recover from the climb and build up the nerve to continue. The ‘walk’ across Crib Goch is just that, only an extremely exposed and airy walk and not one to be taken lightly. It’s only 200m across, but might be the longest 200m of your life.

If you’ve chosen an exceptionally good day and decided to start late, then you’ll be accompanied by more strangers than you’d wish for, and their dog in all likelihood. Nervous walkers and impatient ones alike don’t help and other than the sheer exposure, are probably the next main hazard.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

You should choose the route that you’re happy with – be that striding happily on the apex of the arete, just off to the left and using it as a handrail or crawl. If you choose the latter, you won’t be alone and it’s better to get across in one piece with only your pride being hurt than anything more serious.

In the dry, you should be ok if you’ve got a decent head for heights. In the wet and the wind Crib Goch is a totally different undertaking and it’s best avoided.

5 The Crib Goch Pinnacles. You can choose to follow others, but odds are that they’ll be crossing in all directions. Scramblers will relish the opportunity to tackle the pinnacles head on, whilst others will try and skirt them and find more problems than they avoid.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

6 – Bwlch Coch. Have a breather. Relax. The hard bit is now behind you and the ridge ahead, Crib y Ddysgl is easy in comparison. It may still be airy in its own right, and on it’s own would pose a challenge and be the highlight of the walk, but despite the sheer quality, it’s overshadowed by Crib Goch. That’s not something to be ashamed of as Crib Goch is one of the finest, if not THE finest ridge of its kind that can be scaled by mere walkers and scramblers. You need to go as far as Glencoe or Skye to find anything as good, and even then you’ll need to take a rope with you.

If you’re not a rope user, then this is as good as it gets in the UK. The pinnacle of your walking career if you’ll pardon the pun.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

The Crib y Ddysgl ridge

7  The Crib y Ddysgl ridge brings you directly up onto the summit of Carnedd Ugain – the second highest point in Wales and only 20 metres shorter than its more illustrious neighbour where crowds will already be forming. You’ll have Carnedd Ugain to yourself, or maybe a few others who have come across the ridge, but nothing compared to the hordes that swarm over the rest of the mountain. Bwlch Glas ahead, the confluence of the PYP, Ranger and Llanberis paths and all along to the summit look like a sticky bun dropped on an anthill. You know you’ll have to move on at some point, but you’ll try and delay that as much as possible.

Crib Goch Scramble up Snowdon from Pen y Pass

8 To the summit along the Llanberis path is finally a let down. But of course, you should complete the day by walking the rest of the Snowdon Horseshoe

 

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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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