There are 4 scrambling routes on on Glyder Fach, great fun and ranging from simple to, tricky Grade 3s and rock climbs!
Shark Buttress Scramble
An exposed, technical grade 3 scramble with short sections of diff / v.diff climbing.
Strongly recommend climb main buttress in pitches, and take a rack of nuts & slings. Best done when the rock is completely dry.
Start from Ogwen Cottage or either of the two car parks further east along the A5 by Llyn Ogwen. Head up the path by the waterfalls up to Llyn Bochlwyd. Go clockwise around the shore of the lake and note the cliffs of Glyder Fach above.
To the left are the fluted columns of the Chasm face, then further right and lower down, a prominent, large triangular buttress, the lower left side of which is the smooth, steep Alphabet Slab. (This buttress holds the scrambles Main Gully Ridge and East Gully Ridge.) It’s bounded on the right by a huge deep gully, which reaches the bottom of the cliff, and broadens out into a wide amphitheatre at the top (East Gully).
To the right of this is a steep, compact, blocky buttress, known to climbers as Hawk’s Nest Buttress and to scramblers as Shark Buttress. Head up screes for the bottom of East Gully (dark and dank), walk a bit further right and scramble up easily to the lower left side of Shark Buttress. Get out the rope and climbing gear.
The first pitch goes diagonally right and up across the lower part of the buttress. Steve Ashton calls it ‘exposed and unprotected’ – it’s exposed all right, but there’s a crack for a nut and the final move can be protected with a sling. Head for a niche on the right side of the buttress – the move into this is quite vigorous, using a layback slab.
Belay in the niche. Make an exposed move stepping out from the niche onto the rib on the right (facing in) and climb this, now moving up towards the gully on the right of Shark Buttress. Before long, the gully steepens, so climb up into a small slot to the left and belay here (nut anchors). Getting out of the slot is a struggle – although only about 3 or 4 metres, it’s worth belaying again above and bringing up the second.
There is a cleft between a pinnacle on the left (facing in) and the main body of the buttress. Climb into the back of the cleft and struggle up the smooth flakes on the back wall until you are standing on the top one facing a smooth 2 metre wall. Place protection in the vertical crack to the right.
Now make a very exposed step to the left and step up on to the top of the buttress, continuing easily to a belay right below Shark Pinnacle. Walk round the pinnacle and climb it if you wish (as per the front cover picture of the previous edition of Steve Ashton’s book) – it’s ‘mod’ in the climbing guide but though delicate, easier than what you’ve just done – great photo opportunity!
Continue more easily up the dirty corner to the left of the buttress in front of you (it’s possible to move together or dispense with the rope altogether now – depending on confidence).
Head for the huge and obvious Perch Pinnacle and overcome a steep, broken little wall to the left of it & then scramble right under the pinnacle and out to its right hand side. Scramble ad lib up the ridge – now grade 2 – and eventually it becomes a narrow arête (Dolmen Ridge route joins it here) and abuts the main mountainside – there are still some good bits of scrambling ahead which can be sought out or avoided at will. Before long it comes out on the top of Glyder Fach, just in front of the summit pile.
The quickest way down is to head left and descend the steep screes to the right of Bristly Ridge to Bwlch Tryfan, thence back to Llyn Bochlwyd and the way you came. Otherwise, any of the descents from either of the Glyders can be taken. By the fastest route, allow 5 hours at least for this outing. The picture shows the niche belay for the first pitch.
This is an absolute classic scramble, the best grade 1 in Wales without any doubt!
Although an approach can be made from Ogwen Cottage via the Cwm Bochlwyd path, the best use of the route is as part of the Cwm Bochlwyd Horseshoe, after a traverse of Tryfan.
From Bwlch Tryfan the ridge can be seen as an obvious buttress rearing up to the summit of Glyder Fach. Follow a scree path rising right then left into a gully. Climb this gully with one rock step to emerge at a path crossing the gully top.
There are two options to gain the ridge proper. The first option is to cross the path and continue straight up the gully. The first major obstacle is an intimidating steep wall. Climb this, first on its right side before traversing left then right (always in the gully) to escape difficulties. Continue up the loose bed and climb a small awkward step to arrive on the ridge.
The second option is easier but perhaps slightly more nerve-wracking, being a bit more sustained. Take the previously mentioned path left by a manmade wall to quickly arrive at the base of Sinister Gully. Climb this and move left where it steepens, before scrambling up to the main ridge. Now on the ridge, scramble upwards with a choice of line and fine views back to Tryfan.
A drop in front signals the approach of Great Pinnacle Gap; descend rock slabs and ledges on the left to enter this. Cross the gap, to the right of the pinnacle and climb a tricky small step, moving slightly left round the back of the pinnacle. Follow a gully right and then either climb a steep groove on the left or continue and then head left (easier).
Back on the crest enjoy the last section of scrambling round small pinnacles (or move right for steep walking) before the ridge merges with the summit plateau. Head across to the summit (after an obligatory photo stop at the Cantilever) before heading down.
The best descent is to scramble down the rocky ridge of Y Gribin (grade 1) to Llyn Bochlwyd where the path can be followed back to Ogwen.
This route follows the course of the Nant Bochlwyd as it flows down from Cwm Bochlwyd.
It offers about 70m of scrambling up wet, slippery rocks and serves as a good approach to the Main Cliff of Glyder Fach, rather than taking the steep path beside the stream. Escape can be made at any time.
The rock is slimy in places and loose rock is present as the channel is rarely ascended. It is best climbed after a dry spell when water levels will be low. Begin at Ogwen Cottage and take the left hand path that leads to Cwm Idwal.
Soon take another left across boggy ground, heading for the Nant Bochlwyd. Where the path steepens walk down into the stream bed. Start on the right-hand side and after a few metres climb a step. Here cross to the left side and ascend easy-angled slabs beside the narrow water-shute. Higher up a waterfall is best passed on its left. Above this the stream is quite wide offering a variety of line.
One entertaining obstacle is a narrow water runnel in the middle of the channel. Ascend it or the small rib to its right. Soon the gradient eases as you enter Cwm Bochlwyd. From here approaches can be made to Tryfan (South Ridge), Bristly Ridge and the Main Cliff of Glyder Fach, or Y Gribin/False Gribin.