The climbing on Rhinog Fach is split between two distinct areas, namely the high crags around Llyn Hywel and the lower ones around Bwlch Drws Ardudwy.
Unless otherwise stated, routes are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the Climbers Club Guide to Meirionnydd, so for full descriptions, please refer to this source. The Climbers’ Club have also produced a free pdf, which provides details of first ascents recorded after 2001: download it here. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above.
Please be aware that Rhinog Fach is a trad climbing venue and bolting is strictly prohibited. Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!
The routes around Llyn Hywel are quite easy to identify and are reached via Cwm Hosan. The South Ridge can clearly be seen rising from the lake to Rhinog Fach’s summit, reach the start of the route by scrambling over scree and heather to the ridge’s lowest point, then skirt around to its right to start at a short(ish) slab just to the right of a rock tower. Walking on Water takes the centre of the large and slightly vegetated slab on the far (eastern) side of the lake, reach it by walking along the lake’s northern shore and then delicately traversing in to its centre.
Bwlch Drws Ardudwy
The eastern approach to the Bwlch via the forest road leads to the stile on the forest edge from which, The Not so Roman Nose can be seen 300 metres away on the lowest slopes of Rhinog Fach’s north-east side. After 200 metres from the stile on leaving the forest on the main track cut off leftwards to follow the right edge of an old broken stone wall. The small buttress has a clean arête with a face each side, the right face ending in a chasm where the buttress leans away from the mountain.
Two further walls sit up on the hillside facing north west. Follow a green sheep track by a stream directly up the hillside to SH 668 279. Here you will find Scatomancy and Praxis. The wall next right has several large flakes forming its top third. A flat rock sits on the ground by the centre of the face. This gives The boot is on the Udder and Bootslayer. Next right is a tower with a huge flake sitting on top like a head, which gives Baby Ozymandias and Baby Oz.
There is an upper crag, which faces north-west and so gets afternoon sun. It is composed of the best rock in this area. Find it by continuing up past the lower face for 200 metres then contouring south to reach it in around 5 minutes (SH 668 276). Routes Reach for the Sky to Public Services can be found here.
Mountain ConditionsThis section displays the weather forecast for Llanbedr, which is located to the west and is one of the nearest towns to Rhinog Fach. Remember that Llanbedr sits at around sea level whereas the summit of Rhinog Fach reaches 712m. This means that when looking at temperature the adiabatic lapse rate must be taken into account, which in Wales is a drop in temperature of between 0.5 and 1°C per 100m in altitude. Exposure and wind speed can also significantly lower temperatures.
When To Climb and Essential GearRhinog Fach can be climbed at anytime of the year however in poor conditions the mountain's rock routes are best avoided, particularly if the weather has been wet. March to April offer the most reliable conditions. Of course this all depends on ones ability as a mountaineer/climber, and what might be comfortable for some may seem daunting for others.
If your lucky enough to climb the mountain in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons are essential, there are however, no true winter climbs.
Getting ThereThe Cwm Bychan (SH 644 313) and Maes-Garnedd (SH 641 269) car parks can be reached easily from the A496, which runs along the coast from Llanulltyd near Dolgellau in the south, to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the north.
There is also parking available at Graigddu-Isaf (SH 680 300) on the eastern side of the mountains, which can be reached after from the junction (SH 711 307) just south of Bronaber on the A470.
The area can also be reached by rail, however getting from the stations to the mountains themselves can be difficult as public transport is pretty infrequent and hitch hiking can be a nightmare.
Red Tape and AccessFor the most part there is no red tape, however if you intend to start at Graigddu-Isaf (SH 680 300) and walk through the forest to Bwlch Tyddiad then before setting out it is worth checking if any felling is going on as restrictions on access will be enforced on the affected area. Although For this purpose there is a countryside access map on the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) website.
Countryside Access Map
For climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) runs a Regional Access Database, which holds mountain/crag specific information on matters of conservation and access, including issues such as nesting restrictions, nature designations and preferred parking.
Regional Access Database
If you are in any doubt about any particular access arrangement, or need to report an incident, you should contact your local BMC Access Representative or the BMC Access Officers for Wales: Elfyn Jones.
Camping and AccommodationThere’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:
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Independent Hostel Guide
Campsites in Gwynedd
For more local options, there are a number of campsites that surround the range. There's a great little basic campsite at Cwm Bychan (SH 644 313) in the heart of the mountains and in an easy distance from both Rhinog Fawr and Rhinog Fach. Other nearby campsites can be found at Cae Gwyn Farm (SH 713 297) to the east of the range, and Merthyr Farm (SH 600 319) to the west.
For wild camping, Llyn Hywel (SH 662 267) makes an excellent location.
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
Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
The National Trust
Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies
British Mountaineering Council
The Climbers Club
Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre
Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK
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
North Wales Campsites
Maps and Guidebooks
Harvey Map Services
Climbers Club Guidebooks
North Wales Bouldering
Mid Wales Climbing
Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop
Wildlife and Conservation
Joint Nature Conservation Committee
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Welsh Language Board
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Welsh language pressure group
Cymuned 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