Four fantastically technical scrambles around the Glyder Fawr, perfect for the hardcore adventurers!
- Bryant’s Gully
- Cneifion Arete
- Direct Approach to Seniors Ridge, Glyder Fawr
- North West Face Route, Glyder Fawr
The longest route in Snowdonia with over 500m of scrambling ascent makes this quite an outing! A grade 2+ scramble.
The route extends from above the Llanberis Pass to the crest of Esgair Felen, the south spur of Glyder Fawr. Generally speaking the gully doesn’t carry a great abundance of water, though it would obviously be wise not to tackle it following periods of heavy rain. You will get wet regardless of course.
On approach you’re looking for the stream hitting the roadside at SH625568, there are several nearby lay-bys for parking. Ascend the steep open slope by the stream, aiming for where it issues from broken crags to the right of Carreg Wastad. Several trees mark this point.
The route can be split into 4 stages. The first starts with several easy, though often slimy, steps in the gully bed leading up to the trees. From here the walls on either side rise up and close in and you are required to clamber up a series of wet shelves, short steps, chockstones and boulders, all amid the falling stream. Be ready for a shower! A large jammed-boulder provides the trickiest of these steps. Take it on it’s left, wetter side (though thankfully most of the water flows behind the rock), pulling up between it and the left gully wall. Above this the steps become easier until the slope suddenly opens out on to grass and heather. First stage over. Take the opportunity for a break on the wide grassy terrace and to admire the view across the valley to Crib Goch and Carnedd Ugain.The shorter second stage now follows a narrow trough up the steep heather slope with some awkwardness but not too much difficulty. The walls on either side begin to close in again and a step with a jammed boulder between sheer walls marks the start of stage 3, the hardest phase. If in doubt now is the time to escape and miss this step via the heather slopes to the right. Ascend initially via the left-hand wall then step across to an obvious hole on the right wall (those lacking inches or none-too flexible may wish to think twice about this!).
Without hanging around too long pull confidently above the boulder, most easily achieved on the left. Once above this you’ve now entered ‘The Trap’, an alcove between insurmountable walls with the only exit being up the evil-looking back right wall; around 20m of wet, slimy and water-worn rock! It’s not as difficult as first sight suggests however. Rope protection is possible from above, though finding a suitable anchor isn’t easy. Ascend initially to the left of the water flow until sufficiently high to step across the stream into a shallow bowl.
Now ascend this right-hand groove with care until able to step out onto the heather slope. The worst is now over and you will all of a sudden notice the quite funky nature of the rock scenery around! Climb out of the next recess on the right (avoid the back wall – it’s possible but not recommended!) for the start of stage 4. The gully now curves rightwards and a groove to the right of a riblet in the gully provides straightforward scrambling until it opens out to a mass of red scree. A feature of this upper section (as evidenced by the mass of scree) is it’s fractured and loose nature.
Though overall fairly simple, take care to check holds and use especial caution when encountering scree-chutes (the only place I’ve ever been hit by falling stones…. and several times!). The upper bastion of the spur remains to be overcome so pick a line of your liking, with mainly only short walls to tackle, until you arrive at a spectacular viewpoint looking up and down the Llanberis Pass.
Continue up the crest of Esgair Felen to the summit of Glyder Fawr to continue your day.
The arête is best reached from Ogwen Cottage, via the climbers’ descent path left of the Idwal slabs.
Follow the gully until it emerges into Cwm Cneifion. This involves some mild scrambling. The arête looms up on the opposite side of the cwm. Alternative approaches include the path that leads up the hillside prior to the Sub Cneifion rib, the Sub Cneifion rib itself (v. diff) or any of the Idwal slab climbs, e.g. Ordinary route (diff).
The well worn scree path to the base is very obvious when you’ve reached it, this leads to the base of a steep rock wall. Start on the right hand side up a short groove, traverse left a bit, then follow the line of least resistance to a grassy ledge, with a chimney/groove continuation on the left. If roped, belay above and/or below the chimney.
From the top of the chimney, move up and to the right, to find the right hand edge of the arête. If roped and with confident people, this can be done moving together. Take plenty of slings, as spikes and pinnacles abound! For maximum enjoyment, keep to the right hand edge, taking each pinnacle direct.
The route has an alpine feel in the upper section and with the confidence born of being roped up, you can enjoy a lot of air under your feet. The lower rock wall is usually given a moderate rock climbing grade, so is technically high in its scrambling grade. Above that, it is considerably easier. At no point is the route especially intimidating and the rock is generally very good.
The top is a flat area (the ‘football pitch’) on the Gribin ridge – descend down the ridge path and either left or right before reaching the Gribin Facet.
Direct Approach to Seniors Ridge, Glyder Fawr
Start at Ogwen Cottage and follow the path into Cwm Idwal.
Take the path to the left of the lake until you reach the Idwal Slabs, where the rock climbers gather.
The scramble is often used as a descent by climbers, and also takes a fair bit of drainage.
When combined with Seniors Ridge above it makes an excellent long climb to Glyder Fawr.
The route begins up the small slab to the far left (under the east wall of the main slabs) then continues upward.
Soon, a flat grassy area is reached.
Above this, the route climbs an obvious wet little gully then continues close under the left-bounding wall of the Idwal Slabs.
The next obstacle is a 2m chimney that looks easy but is somehow quite awkward.
Although there’s no danger of a fall, some thought is needed to overcome it. Beyond this, continue into the couloir below the awesome Suicide Wall.
The next section is the crucial part. The correct breach of the cliff must be located. It is quite obvious however; a polished line rising up and rightwards in an exposed position (this is also the descent route for climbers coming off the Idwal Slabs). It’s reasonably short, but a steady hand is required.
At the top, follow grooves right to a superb position overlooking Cwm Idwal. The final section is perhaps the most enjoyable. The ridge is followed upwards on whichever line suits you. The scrambling consists of short, steep walls interspersed with flat, boggy areas giving a sense of security. Some of the moves are tricky but there’s little exposure.
A final steep wall (which can be avoided) with a crack/groove up the middle marks the end of the route and the start of Seniors Ridge. Either follow the ridge up, or move left into Cwm Cneifion.
North West Face Route, Glyder Fawr
This is the easiest of the three scrambles that ascend Glyder Fawr from Cwm Idwal.
The short walk in is from Ogwen Cottage, taking the path to the left of the lake until you reach the Idwal Slabs. High up on the cliffs is a large horizontal band of quartz.
The scramble crosses this in its final section. Carry on past the main cliff and past the dark gully of the Idwal Staircase until by the stream flowing down into the lake.
Here the buttress is split by a runnel of heather. Ascend the runnel with an impressive drop to the right. After some distance a gully is reached. This is followed a few metres to reach the top of the first section.
The next objective is a small rock buttress that stands alone to the right. This can be bypassed but offers a few entertaining tricky moves.
After this, walk across the slope aiming for the buttress to the right of a couloir. Scramble up on steep rock, which is supplied with excllent holds. A choice of line and difficulty are available. As height is gained aim slightly right to step out onto the large quartz ledge seen from below. Walk across this ledge. Although safe, the ledge is slanted left toward a large drop making it very interesting.
Beyond the ledge, scramble diagonally left along terraces and up rock steps.
The guidebook suggests this part has tricky route finding, but in good visibility it is vastly enjoyable. Soon, the route ends against Seniors Ridge which can be followed to the summit.