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First Pinnacle Rib

First Pinnacle Rib

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First Pinnacle Rib

Page Type: Route

Location: Snowdonia, Wales, Europe

Lat/Lon: 53.11484°N / 3.99724°W

Object Title: First Pinnacle Rib

Route Type: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Very Difficult 4b! (5.3 - 5.7 YDS)

Number of Pitches: 5

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes


Page By: Nanuls

Created/Edited: Nov 1, 2009 / Apr 15, 2011

Object ID: 569512

Hits: 5438 

Page Score: 92.26%  - 38 Votes 

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It goes without saying that Tryfan is a famous Welsh mountain, and as such is home to quite a few famous routes. First Pinnacle Rib (VD 4b, 185m), often known as the Overlapping Ridge Route, is one such route, and while the quality of the climbing is of course very good, it's probably better known for its unusual grade - Very Difficult (VD) 4b. Now for anyone not familiar with the British grading system, or grading systems at all for that matter, British routes are given an adjectival grade and a technical grade - i.e. the VD is the adjectival one and the 4b is the technical one. Technical grades are not usually given to routes graded adjectivally as being below Hard Severe (HS), as they tend not to be difficult enough to warrant one. However, here we have an adjectival grade as low as Very Difficult. Why you might ask? Well because although the majority of First Pinnacle Rib is more than straight forward, it has a short technical stretch at mid height known as the Yellow Slab. The slab is in fact easily avoidable, but it does rather take the teeth out of the climb if you do.

The route is steeped in history, having been first climbed in the September of 1914 by E.W. Steeple, G. Barlow and A.H. Doughty. Later variations have been added, but they don’t detract from the authentic traditional mountain feel the route has. So if you are interested in climbing a Snowdonian classic, you could do a lot worse than giving this line a few hours of your time.

First Pinnacle Rib
Near the
Yellow Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)
Crux of East Face of Tryfan
The crux of the route
- the Yellow Slab
(Photo by ZachStone)
From Adam to Eve
Don't forget to jump
Adam and Eve
(Photo by ZachStone)

Getting There

First Pinnacle Rib is located on Tryfan's East Face and takes a direct line up the mountain's Central Buttress. Conveniently, Tryfan is located very close to the A5, so there are no tedious sections of asphalt on the approach.

Although there is plenty of parking along the A5, the most convenient car park for this route is the Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite (SH 672 604). There will be a £1 charge for parking here.

From the car park walk down the track to the camp site, cross the stile behind the farm houe and turn right. Walk down the track and cross another stile. Shortly afterwards a smaller path bears of left towards Tryfan Bach. Follow the smaller path to Tryfan Bach, but rather than continuing up the valley, climb the slope on the opposite side onto the Heather Terrace. Follow the Heather Terrace along Tryfan's flank, after around a kilometre you will reach a boulder with SPR etched onto it. This marks the start of Second Pinnacle Rib. Ignore this and continue on to a second boulder with FPR etched onto it - this is the start of the route (SH 664 592).

Route Description

Pitch 1 (30m): Start at the boulder with FPR etched into it some 20 metres to the left of a grassy bay and to the right of a scree gully. Climb the slab and exit right at the overhang. Follow a cracked groove to the right which leads to the broad slabby ridge. Belay where the ridge begins to steepen.

Pitch 2 (80m): Follow the ridge placing belays where necessary until you reach the obvious and eponymous pinnacle itself.

Pitch 3 (15m): Now you will be faced with the wonderful but polished Yellow Slab. Start just to the right of a break up its centre and ascend it delicately for 3m until a groove on the right is reached and followed to a stance. The pitch can be avoided and climbed more easily on the left.

First Pinnacle Rib (Photo by Nanuls)

Pitch 4 (35m): Climb the curved cracks to the left until easier ground is reached. Blay below a steep wall.

Pitch 5 (25m): There are two choices here. Either climb easily to the right, or tackle the rather brutish Thompson's Chimney (Severe). For the latter option, ascend the initial chimney, move right and finish up the remaining chimney to a path.

Essential Gear

Although when I did the route we climbed with double ropes a single one will probably suffice. A moderate rack of wires, hexes and cams will be necessary and be sure to have some small wires for the Yellow Slab. As this is Wales, be sure to bring along your waterproofs and some warm clothing.


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 17 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 115 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

Harvey Map Services 1:25k Snowdonia: Snowdonia The Glyderau and the Carneddau

Harvey Map Services/BMC 1: 40k British Mountain Map: Snowdonia

Road Maps

OS Tour Map 10 North and Mid Wales


Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) by Merfyn Williams with contributions from Ian Mercer and Jeremy Moore

A handy book full of useful information and interesting facts about the National Park.
Ogwen and Carneddau Climbers' Club Guides to Wales: Ogwen and Carneddau by Iwan Arfon Jones

A guide to the crags of the Ogwen Valley and the Carneddau Range to its north. Contains descriptions for lots of routes on Tryfan, including this one.
North Wales Rock: Selected Rock Climbs in North Wales North Wales Rock: Selected Rock Climbs in North Wales by Simon Panton

A superb, lavishly presented general guidebook to the best North Wales has to offer. Read, gawp and drool!
Rock Climbing in Snowdonia Rock Climbing in Snowdonia by Paul Williams

A slightly dated, but nevertheless still relevant guide to climbing in North Wales. Not quite as good as the previous book though.
Scrambles and Easy Climbs in Snowdonia Scrambles and Easy Climbs in Snowdonia by John Sparks, Tom Hutton and Jerry Rawson

An excellent book describing many of Snowdonia's classic routes - the perfect bridge between scrambling and rock climbing.

External Links

First Pinnacle Rib
Just above the Yellow Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)

First Pinnacle Rib
Just above the Yellow Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)

Government Bodies and Official Organisations

Snowdonia National Park Authority
Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Conwy County Council
Gwynedd County Council
Powys County Council
Countryside Council for Wales
Forestry Commission Wales
Environment Agency
Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Snowdonia Society
The National Trust

Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies

British Mountaineering Council
The Climbers Club
Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre
Hightreck Snowdonia


Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
BBC Weather
Weather Channel UK

Tourist Information

Visit Wales
North Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Gwynedd.com
Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net
North Wales Index


Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable


Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey
Harvey Map Services
Cicerone Guidebooks
Climbers Club Guidebooks
North Wales Bouldering
Mid Wales Climbing
Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop

Wildlife and Conservation

Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Natur Gwynedd
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Welsh Language

Welsh Language Board
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Welsh language pressure group
Yr Urdd (Welsh Youth Association)
Welsh-English / English-Welsh online translator
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Dictionary
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Lexicon


Crux of East Face of TryfanFirst Pinnacle RibFirst Pinnacle RibFirst Pinnacle RibTryfanFirst Pinnacle RibFirst Pinnacle Rib
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