There is a little known ridge on Snowdon. Although it could be considered to be quite broad for a ridge, it's everything a ridge should be. It's steep, it's rocky, it requires the use of hands, knees, shoulders and torso to climb it. Technically it is an easy climb, is easily accessible and commands a view of breathtaking proportions. Furthermore, providing the weather is clear, it's in such a location that makes it a prominent feature in the sweeping vista enjoyed by the hundreds of thousands who visit Snowdon’s summit each year. Yet, for some unknown reason, it remains on the periphery of the average visitors conscience, and few people ascend it’s craggy slopes from the sheltered confines of the eastern cwms to Snowdon’s lofty summit. Perhaps it is because the ridge terminates at a saddle rather than a summit, or perhaps it is because the infamy of Crib Goch eclipses the mountain's other ridges, but whatever the reason the absence of attention makes this ridge an even more tantalising objective for the discerning scrambler.
The scrambling on Y Cribyn is on par with that of Crib Goch’s east ridge, the holds are abundant and the route choice is plentiful and varied. In addition the lack of attention means that queuing is a thing of absolute rarity, meaning that despite Snowdon being Britain’s most popular mountain, solitude and peace can be found by those who crave it. The scrambling is also very enjoyable and takes place on good solid rock, with exposure only for those who seek it. This makes it an attractive proposition for the seasoned scrambler while also being an ideal introduction to scrambling for the uninitiated.
To reach the base of the ridge one must take the Miners Track from Pen y Pass to Llyn Glaslyn. The starting point for the Miners Track is the Pen y Pass car park (SH 647 555) at the zenith of Llanberis Pass, which can be reached easily by road on the A4086 that runs between Llanberis (SH 582 598) and Capel Curig (SH 719 580).
Owing to the popularity and sheer number of routes that start here the Pen y Pass car park often fills up quickly so if you want to park there a very early start is recommended. Luckily there are other options, the first of these is an excellent park and ride which runs regularly all day (including weekends and bank holidays) from Nant Perris (SH 607 582). The second option is the Snowdon Sherpa bus service which has various stops around the mountain and runs from Llanberis, Bettws y Coed, Caernarfon, Beddgelert, Bethesda, and Porthmadog. Be sure to check timetables first as you don't want to end up missing the last bus and find yourself stuck, of course in these situations hitching is always an option.
As was mentioned earlier the start of the route can be reached via the Miners Track. The Miners Track begins at Pen y Pass and starts by contouring around the southeastern slope of The Horns. It follows the contours westward to meet the northern shore of Llyn Teyrn where it continues in a south-westerly direction around a small ridge. About half a mile after Llyn Teyrn the approach route reaches Llyn Llydaw, and it is here that one of the most majestic views of Snowdon can be seen, together with a full view of the mighty cliffs of Y Lliwedd on the left, and the brilliantly red Crib Goch on the right. From here the track crosses Llyn Llydaw via its famous causeway, built in the 19th century to aid the transference of men to and from the mines on the far side of the lake and at Glaslyn. The path then follows the lakes shoreline for half a mile passing a number of derelict mine buildings along the way. The most prominent of these is the old crushing mill of the Britannia Copper Mine which in its day was one of the most advanced mills in the country and was worked by a water-wheel fed from Llyn Glaslyn high above. At the last complex of ruins the path bears right and becomes steeper, roughly following the main stream that flows out of Glaslyn. The base of Y Cribyn ridge and the start of the route is located at the outflow of Llyn Glaslyn, where the stream is shallow and there are enough rocks to allow for a dry crossing.
The route begins at the outflow of Llyn Glaslyn, here the stream is shallow and can be easily crossed by hopping from one rock to the other, to the grassy terminating hump of the ridge. Head for the slabs of rock slightly to the right of the ridges crest and ascend them onto the broad and relatively flat precursor to the ridge proper. From here the route rapidly steepens; roughly follow the crest of the ridge, detouring where necessary in order to find the best line. The scrambling should be easy and secure throughout, but if you find yourself in difficulty, a quick descent is safe enough and you should be able to find a suitable line with relatively little trouble. The ridge terminates at a small but prominent cairn towards the middle section of Bwlch y Saethau, just below the East Ridge of Snowdon. Ascend this ridge via a rather broken and scrappy scramble to reach Snowdon’s summit. From here take your pick of descents, my recommendation is to do a traverse of Crib y Ddysgl and Crib Goch back to Pen y Pass.
During the summer you will need all the equipment you would normally use on a Grade 1 scramble i.e. a good pair of boots and full waterproofs. A rope and helmet may be required for the inexperienced or those without a head for heights.
If your lucky enough to climb this route in winter conditions then an ice axe, crampons, and a helmet are all essential. You also might want to take along a rope and a winter rack if there are nervous members among your party.
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The Mountains of England and Wales: Volume 1 Wales (Cicerone Guide) by John and Anne Nuttall
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 1 (Cicerone Guide) by Peter Hermon
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2 (Cicerone Guide) by Peter Hermon
Hillwalking in Snowdonia (Cicerone Guide) by Steve Ashton
Ridges of Snowdonia (Cicerone Guide) by Steve Ashton
Scrambles in Snowdonia (Cicerone Guide) by Steve Ashton
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