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.
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 house 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).
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.
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.
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.
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