Thanks to its unique topography and geology, Snowdonia’s landscape lends itself perfectly to scrambling. It also caters to all abilities, perhaps more so than any other UK mountain destination. This means that if you’re only just starting out, there are plenty of easier grade 1 routes within the national park that offer the adrenaline-inducing exposure of a narrow ridge traverse or a steep gully scramble without too many technical difficulties to consider.
“There are plenty of easier grade 1 routes within the national park”
The only real requirements are a little mountain experience, sure-footedness and a head for heights. Of course, if you’re practised in ropework, Snowdonia also boasts more demanding routes that pose some trickier technical challenges. In fact, there are so many great scrambles that guidebook publisher Cicerone has filled a whole book with them – a sure sign that you are spoilt for choice. But we wanted to share some of our personal favourites with you, from the iconic Crib Goch to the lesser-known Mushroom Garden.
This famous ridge is Snowdonia’s best-known scramble for a reason – the sheer level of lofty exposure and that sensation of teetering on a knife-edge arete offer genuine heart-in-mouth thrills and gut-twisting excitement. It certainly shouldn’t be underestimated – the traverse is enough to freeze many a hillwalker in their tracks. This fact can sometimes make the route frustrating, since an immobile or painfully slow walker on the ridge can sometimes lead to queues of people waiting to cross. But if you get a clear run at Crib Goch, it is an experience to be relished. On a clear day, there are no better views to be had of the majestic Snowdon horseshoe.
“That sensation of teetering on a knife-edge arete offer genuine heart-in-mouth thrills”
Under normal conditions, Crib Goch is a Grade 1 scramble, but comes with plenty of exposure. You’ll need to be comfortable with the prospect of steep drops on either side and no escape route off the ridge: it requires complete commitment.
To tackle it, head up the Pyg Track from Pen-y-Pass. At Bwlch y Moch look out for the sign to Crib Goch off to the right. Follow the path up to start the scramble, which climbs sharply among slabs to bring you up to the start of the ridge. Pay close attention to your line here, as it is easy to stray off route. The crest of the ridge is only about 200m long and the line is obvious: just stick as closely to the arete as you can. Some straddle the crest, others choose to hand-rail their way along on the left-hand side. When you reach the Crib Goch Pinnacles, you can either head up and over or skirt around the edge before reaching Bwlch Coch and then Crib y Ddysgl, which although airy feels a lot easier after crossing Crib Goch, bringing you to the summit of Garnedd Ugain. Follow the path on to Bwlch Glas and up to the summit of Snowdon, before descending via the Pyg or Miners Track back to Pen-y-Pass.