When in times immemorial, the now long extinct Welsh glaciers set about the task of sculpting the landscape into the discordant collection of peaks, pinnacles and pastures we see today, it was by chance that three large boulders should be carried, from origins unknown, and lain down together on the gentle slopes of Dyffryn Mymbyr. The fortuitous timing of this transportation cannot be overstated. Too soon and the boulders would have been carried out onto the coastal plain, and following the glacier’s retreat, claimed by the subsequent inundation. Too late and the boulders would have remained high on the mountain side, possibly on steep ground, and possibly far apart, perhaps never to be properly discovered. We must therefore, be extremely grateful for the outcome of these prehistoric events, for they provide us with one of the finest and most accessible bouldering venues in all of Snowdonia.
The RAC Boulders sit on the far eastern flank of the Glyderau, overlooked by the mountains of the Moelwynion, Carneddau, and Snowdon Range. They are home to an excellent complement of low to mid grade problems, most of which are of an extremely high quality and proffer a mixture of delicate crimps and slopers, as well as brutish overhangs, cracks and arêtes. All in all they are an ideal introduction for those new to the sport of bouldering. Although somewhat eclipsed by the more famous Cromlech Boulders in Llanberis Pass, which are the average visitor's favoured destination, they are no less worthy of attention, and when the former become unbearably crowded, which they often do, the RAC Boulders offer a welcome sanctuary where solitude is the norm rather than the exception. Furthermore, their location affords a sunny aspect, a welcome alternative to the shadowy depths of The Pass, something that becomes evermore desirable the further the year progresses into winter.
The map below shows the location of the RAC boulders in relation to the surrounding area. For more details on how to reach them, see the Getting There Section.
Problems and Routes
The bouldering is split between the boulders on the left and right sides of the track, with the problems, which range from from V0- to V7 in difficulty, spread unevenly between the two groups. In recent years boulderers in North Wales have adopted the Hueco V system for grading problems. The problems listed below have been compiled, graded and rated using a combination of different sources including Simon Panton’s superb guidebook North Wales Bouldering/Bowldro Gogledd Cymru, V12’s excellent website www.northwalesbouldering.com (also Simon Panton and co), and the continually updated www.ukclimbing.com.
The compact crag behind the boulders gives a number of short, but hard, traditional routes. The crag is divided by an area of broken rock on the left and a grassy gully on the right. The left-hand buttress is known as the Atom Art Buttress, and is home to the first three routes. This is split by an off-width dogleg crack, and capped by a large tree. A short way to the right is Central Buttress. This is by far the widest and highest of the three sections of the crag. Again there are only three main lines. Right again, a little set back, and across a wide grassy gully, lies the final small buttress, cut by a slim right-facing corner. It is home to the final two routes.
This section displays the mountain conditions for Snowdonia, of which the RAC Boulders are a part. Click on the widget for maps and further information.
When to Climb and Essential Gear
The site’s altitude and aspect make it an ideal year round venue, and it is particularly attractive in winter, when other areas are cloaked in perpetual shade.
Conveniently, the RAC Boulders (SH 696 572) is located very close to the A4086, so you don’t have far to lug your equipment. If approaching from the east, turn off the A5 at Capel Curig (SH 720 580) and drive south along the A4086 for around 3km. Park at a large layby on the right hand side of the road. The boulders are just a few metres away on the hillside above you. If you are coming from the south, take the A498 through Beddgelert (SH 590 418) towards the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel (SH 659 557). Pass the hotel, you will now be on the A4086, and drive north for around 3km to the aforementioned layby.
Red Tape and Access
Unlike most of Snowdonia National Park’s other significant crags and boulders, the RAC Boulders are not on Open Access Land (CRoW Act 2000), and technically the public have no legal right of access. Fortunately the landowner is willing to tolerate boulderers/climbers using the site provided that they keep a low profile, do not block the access with their cars, and do not leave any litter. It goes without saying that camping is also not permitted. It is also courteous to first ask the landowners permission before entering his land; he lives on the farm of Dyffryn Mwybyr (see map), above and to the left of the boulders.
Camping and Accommodation
There’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Snowdonia National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:
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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
Snowdonia: Glyderau and Carneddau
OS Road Map 9 Wales/Cymru & West Midlands
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