Snowdon (Via Crib Goch)

Crib Goch (3027ft), Garnedd Ugain (3494ft), Snowdon (3560ft)

26th September 2008

With the summer being a total wash out, a sudden break in the weather, coinciding with my days off, was too good an opportunity to miss. The Metcheck website pointed to Friday as being perfect for an attempt at the Crib Goch ridge.

Back in April, I’d made my first attempt, but wary of the snow at the time, I’d come back down Crib Goch (in hindsight probably the more dangerous option) and in July I’d visited again, but ended up taking the Pyg Track due to worse than expected weather conditions.

5am saw me kitted up and out the front door, the dark morning brightened by a rare sight of an urban fox as I got my car from the garage. With quite a lot of mist on the roads, my journey down to Wales was tinged with concern that once again this ridge would defeat me.

I reached Pen-Y-Pass just as the sun crested the horizon illuminating Crib Goch with a warm glow, in muted contrast to the icy crispness of my first visit.

The lack of snow made Crib Goch, the first mountain of the route, a totally different proposition. With no footprints to guide me I had to choose my own route up its flank and in fact the increased options seemed to make the ascent easier than my previous attempt.

A few people had passed me on the way up and I had seen the odd person in my wake, but as I reached the summit I had the illusion of having the whole of the mountain to myself.

Across the ridge the journey looked just as daunting without the snow and the second pinnacle still seemed to descend into oblivion rather than linking to the flank of the second summit Garnedd Ugain.

With nothing more than a slight breeze, the start of the ridge is a fairly easy stroll along the rock, although the slight tilt to the left does create an off-balance feeling that is hard to dismiss, especially with the spectacular plummet to the right and so there was a slight smell of adrenaline in the air as I took the plunge (bad choice of phrase there) and set out across the day’s objective.

Guides to the ridge suggest keeping to the left and using the crest as a handrail and the southern side of the ridge does look as if you’d slide rather than fall (although you’d probably survive the descent only to be buried in an avalanche of shale if you were to accidentally take that route) but there are a couple of stretches where even someone as nervous as myself can walk fairly confidently across.

Unlike Sharpe Edge in the Lake District, the rock here offers comfortable hand and foot holds, the danger (in my opinion) coming from your own fears and weather conditions rather than the mountain itself, but of course at this height, caution isn’t an optional extra.
Having seen no-one else on the ridge during my crossing, I was surprised to be joined by several groups of walkers as I contemplated the third pinnacle (one hidden from view at the start of the crossing) which was handy, as this is probably the most daunting part of the trip.

Overcoming this obstacle involves climbing a series of ledges on the other side of the ridge, with the exciting (!?!) drop below you, not difficult, but I was certainly glad of the company and too preoccupied to think about any other view than the rock in front of me. From the summit of this last pinnacle, it’s a fairly simple route down a narrow gulley and onto the path at Bwlch Coch which marks the end of Crib Goch and the start of Crib y Ddysgl, the ascent to the next peak Garnedd Ugain.

Any elation from this conquest of Crib Goch was soon overshadowed by the overbearing presence of the two larger peaks on the route and especially the 700ft climb directly ahead. This buttress, which looks so formidable from the peak of Crib Goch, instead has wide paths along the ridge interspersed with sections of rock that can be as hard or as easy as you like.

By the time I reached the peak I was feeling thoroughly knackered, but I could hardly come this far without topping out on the behemoth of Snowdon, a long slow trudge up a relatively crowded pavement to what is at the moment a building site. In some ways a disappointment (especially when the building work is complete and you can once again catch a train to the summit) it does at least offer a stunning view of the route.

One Response to “Snowdon (Via Crib Goch)”

  1. Roscoe Mergenthaler says:

    I’m happy !It’s pleasant to see someone very informed about what they do. Keep up the great work and I’ll return for more!Thanks!

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