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Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero


Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:42 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr, Tryfan

Date walked: 04/07/2015

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Uncertain weather forecast for the Highlands for quite a period meant I was getting stir-crazy again. The forecast for Snowdonia wasn’t too bad though, and after a brilliant Saturday in the Midlands I decided to head out into Wales on the Sunday.

I’ve walked all the hills in Snowdonia so many times that this time I thought I’d concentrate on scrambling.

Although all the scrambles on this route are standards, I thought it was worth recording this route, because:
a) unlike other scrambles I’ve done, all the routes seemed to offer variations of higher or lower grade to suit inclination, confidence, and the conditions on the day;
b) all the routes offer good rock quality (in the dry) and outstanding views;
c) and you can scramble more or less all day!

The idea was to work out a circuit of good/top quality Grade 3/Diff scrambles as a change from the more or less standard Tryfan North Face route followed by Bristly Ridge (which I’d done again a couple of weeks earlier with my nephew from Switzerland). In addition, I wanted to get in as many scrambles as possible, which would mean some zig-zagging up and down faces.

In the end I opted for the following:
• Milestone Buttress Approach (50m) Gr 3 *** & Milestone Buttress Continuation (40m) Gr 3 **
• Wrinkled Tower (70m) Gr 3 ***
• Tryfan South Buttress (135m) Gr 3 *
• Shark Buttress - Glyder Fach (260m) Gr 3 ***

I should say at the outset that all the scrambles are at least Grade 3, which means rope protection is recommended.
Hanging on rope 2.jpg

Certainly some of them are extremely exposed, as can be seen from the pictures.

I’m not going to give a blow by blow description of the routes, partly because this is done in various guide books, like Steve Ashton’s “Scrambles in Snowdonia”; and partly because of the many alternative options that all the routes seem to offer.

And I apologize at the start for the generally poor quality of the pics. I took the decision to use my smartphone, which was completely the wrong thing to do on a rather overcast day. So the blurring is NOT due to my hands shaking in trepidation, but rather because of the mini-aperture of the camera, and hence very slow shutter speed. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

I set the alarm for 03.30, left the house at 04.00, and arrived at Ogwen at 06.15...
ImageTryfan East Face looks quite menacing, as does the sky...

...where I breakfasted on the usual croissants with marmalade and a litre of tea. Superb – no cars at the park, and no-one stirring at the camp site.

It would have been possible to extend the scrambling by starting at Tryfan Bach....
ImageScrambling on Tryfan Bach June 2015.
....just a few hundred metres away from the Milestone Buttress; but I’d done that on the day with my nephew, and also, apart from the exposure, it’s not particularly challenging.

So the route starts on the west face of Tryfan with the Milestone Buttress approach.
ImageW Face Scrambles

Steve Ashton’s route bears left after the first 18m, but a direct route also seemed eminently feasible, and this is the one I took.
Image20150705_063836

Image20150705_064154 The start of Milestone Approach

Image20150705_064625 Good rock and good holds for scramblers.

Image20150705_064639.

Image20150705_065541 Looking back about half way up Milestone Approach.

Image20150705_065717 Looking up from the same point.

Image20150705_070224 Looking back from near the top of Milestone Approach.

Image20150705_071251 Looking a bit further ahead than the next hold: Y Garn with its summit lightly wraithed in cloud.

Some very enjoyable scrambling on excellent rock, with great views to spice the experience.

This does not seem like a particularly difficult route technically: there are plenty of large and solid hand and food holds; but it is quite exposed, as can be seen from the pictures, so this must, I guess, be the reason for the 3 grading.

The Milestone Continuation offers more of the same, with a variety of possible routes. I try a few of them, but back off a couple of options when the holds begin to be of the finger/toe end variety. Great fun though!

Image20150705_071429 Start of Milestone Continuation. Excellent rock conditions.

Image20150705_071843.

Image20150705_071856.

Image20150705_071951 One diversion I tried, but then thought better of.

Image20150705_072455 Looking back down the first pitch.

Image20150705_073844 Fairly typical rock conditions towards the top of Milestone Continuation, which alternate with grass/heathery parts.

Image20150705_074610 Now the descent to the bottom again, via a gulley.

[Image20150705_075248(0) Looking back up to the top of the gulley.

Image20150705_075308 Looking down the gulley. Some of the scrambling is tougher than the Milestone route, mainly because of the damp conditions.

Image20150705_082334 Start of Wrinkled Tower (centre of the picture).

Image20150705_083639 Looking back down the first pitch. It looks much more difficult than it is: there are plenty of good hand and foot holds.

Image20150705_084851 Some dramatic rock slivers.

Image20150705_085740 One variation that proved too difficult...

Image20150705_085945 And another...

Summary: Wrinkled Tower is a really fun route, with plenty of alternatives to match your appetite. :D

Once at the top of Wrinkled Tower you simply continue east over the ridge and then drop about 80m on to the Heather Terrace. Then it’s an easy walk on the path up to the South Buttress. If the South Buttress doesn’t appeal, there are also 6 other established routes up to the top of Tryfan on this side, some of which are technically easier. As I pass the first of these, the Bastow Buttress Variant, I see a roped party just starting out. I must say, it looks terrifying: one slip by one member of the party, and the whole lot could be dragged down with them! I’ve never understood the point of this practice.

The South Buttress offers many many options. The rock is good, and there’s much strenuous fun to be had! The following pictures are typical of the conditions.
Image20150705_101709 at the bottom.

Image20150705_103056 Towards the top.

I stop for a second breakfast at the top of Tryfan, and enjoy the views (and the jump between Adam and Eve :D :roll: ).

Image20150705_105859 Adam and Eve.

The sac starring in the pic is full mainly of rope, krabs, tat, etc., - just in case. But fortunately I don’t need to get it out once during the day.

Then I head off in the direction of Bristly Ridge.

Image20150705_103506 Bristly Ridge.

Image20150705_103515 Llyn Bochlwyd in the foreground, Y Garn in the background. The clear weather wasn't to last, though!!!

Descending Tryfan on the rough rock fields, I concentrate intently on where I’m putting my feet. I remember that one of my great heroes, Pat Kelly, was killed on Tryfan, apparently due to a freak accident with a loose rock when she wasn’t actually climbing, which resulted in a fatal head injury (I recall reading about the circumstances of the accident some time ago, but haven’t been able to find the source again; so I may have this detail wrong).
ImagePat Kelly on The Scoop, Castle Naze circa 1920.

How difficult this climb is can be seen from the following pic:
ImageScoop, Castle Naze.

She was the founder of the Pinnacle Club, and one of the great early rock climbing pioneers, in the days when the rock was the very least of the obstacles that would-be female climbers had to overcome!
ImageLadies climbing 1908.

Once in Bwlch Tryfan I contour in a south westerly direction around the bottom of the main Glyder Fach cliff until I get to the large triangular rock slab feature known as Alphabet Slab, which is the key orientation point for locating the start of most of the scrambles on this face.

This is roughly the Shark Buttress route.
ImageShark Buttress.

Instead of ascending on the north east side of this as recommended by Steve Ashton, I continue to contour around the bottom, and then scramble up a steep mainly grassy incline to reach the official start point.

Image20150705_114307 Start of Shark Buttress.

View looking north east from the top of the first section.
Image20150705_114909.

The rock on this route is more lichenous, and generally I think this is more technically difficult than the preceding routes. Unfortunately, about half way up to the Shark Pinnacle, it starts to rain, and this means that the lichenous rock starts to become unpredictably slippery.
Image20150705_115548 First shower....]

I therefore opt for maximising my chances of living to scramble another day and now take the easiest routes I can pick out. However, it’s clear that there are again many more challenging variations that would be great on a dry day.
Image20150705_120923.

Image20150705_121135 The shark fin feature after which the buttress is named. Easy options here.

Image20150705_122506 Shark fin from above.

Image20150705_122402[/url] Still some reasonably challenging bits....

Image20150705_123528 Astonishing overhanging rocks. Hard to see how they remain stable!

Image20150705_123535 Typical conditions approaching the top. Quite straightforward scrambling over blocks, even in the rain.[/url]

Image20150705_123538 And panning clockwise, an even easier route is clear to the right.

Image20150705_124416 View back down Shark Buttress from the top of the scrambling section. From here on it's effectively just walking.

Image20150705_125445
When I reach the top, the summit of Glyder Fach is in clag, and it is raining quite heavily.

I decide to return via Glyder Fawr (all in the rain :( ) and Hell’s Kitchen to take a look at the Idwal Slabs, one of the first scrambles I did.
Image20150705_141347.

To my surprise, even mid-afternoon on a Sunday, there are no climbers or scramblers on the face. Usually it would be absolutely packed out. Perhaps the showers have stopped people. It's a very heavily trafficked and therefore very polished slab, so I guess it could be quite tricky in the wet.
Image20150705_141722 Looking up the slabs.

Image20150705_141406 Pen-yr-Ole-Wen and Llyn Idwal, taken from just before the Idwal Slabs.

Just beyond the slabs I notice what appears to be a pale dog swimming across Llyn Idwal. Then, as it approaches the shore, I realise to my astonishment that it's a sheep! I'm too slow getting the mobile out to get a shot of it while it's swimming; but here's a shot of the amphibious sheep just after it landed.
Image20150705_142403[/url]

Then back to the car. As I change, I notice my unorthodox (= hopeless) scrambling technique has again taken its toll on my knees and shins :oops: :thumbdown: .
Image20150705_150005[/url]
Memo to self: remember to wear longs with suitable knee protection for scrambling :roll: .

Then a quick visit to a local building of cultural, architectural and historical interest....
Image20150705_150254.
before heading home.

All in all, a fine day's scrambling - just a pity about the rain at the end.
Last edited by Alteknacker on Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Alteknacker
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby gman » Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:50 pm

Great stuff, haven't been to Snowdonia but it looks very tempting. I think that's the same rhyolite rock that's on the Buachaille but the scrambling looks a bit slabbier, and skint knees are the sign of a good route :lol: .
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:49 pm

An adventurous day, AK. Snowdonia is a spectacular place. I usually manage to pick up some cut or bruise on a good scramble, even on an indoor climbing wall.
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby dav2930 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 7:23 pm

What a superb scramblefest! :clap: Very interesting and informative report. Loved the bit about Pat Kelly. Your scrambling technique can't be that bad if you've got up all those grade 3's! I think Snowdonia has the edge over the Lakes for scrambling potential. Your report has really inspired me to do more of this kind of thing. :D
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby malky_c » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:21 pm

Enjoyed that it brought back many good memories :D . Steve Ashton's book was something of a bible for me when growing up in the mid '90s. I did a fair number of the routes in it on summer evenings after school with my dad. Tended to be the slightly easier ones though. The only one I've done from that bunch is Shark Buttress, which scared the c.rap out of me (think we got a little off route though). The description for Wrinkled Tower (along with The Chasm on Glyder Fach) always put me off. The adjacent Dolmen Ridge was more in my comfort zone - been up that one a few times.

That's a good lot of weaving about you did - worthwhile as it packed quite a lot into a single day out. Is the Bryn Tyrch still good? Used to be a regular, but we started going to the Ty'n y Coed instead. Can't remember why now.
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby gaffr » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:15 am

Milestone Buttress a fine place for shinning up rock. :)
Some of our earliest climbing was on the Milestone using the very grippy rock found there....I guess a bit more polished nowadays. It was in '63 when we camped near here.
I thought that I could recall an area of rock that we managed to shin-up?
1 Milestone.jpg
The start of the Milestone Direct.
1aMilestone Ogwen.jpg
A bit further on and I recall an awkward traverse near the top with nearby the final fine chimney of the delectable Milstone ordinary route also very enjoyable.
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:34 pm

Great report Alteknacker, there are some really impressive looking scrambles there which means they must be good as photo's never really convey the difficulty of a scramble route, no matter how hard we try to capture them. GoPro seems to do a good job but I'm still wrestling with the idea as I'm not sure I could be bothered with the editing :lol:

Anyway mate, great stuff and some suitable snags on your legs as a memento :lol:
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:21 pm

Great stuff, and an impressive itinerary for a day.

I've done quite a lot of scrambling in Snowdonia, it has some of the best routes in Britain.
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:36 pm

simon-b wrote:... I usually manage to pick up some cut or bruise on a good scramble, even on an indoor climbing wall.


gman wrote:..... and skint knees are the sign of a good route :lol: .


dav2930 wrote:.... Your scrambling technique can't be that bad if you've got up all those grade 3's! :D


Thanks for the comments, guys. I would like to think the battered legs aren't poor technique, but when I watch the occasional Adam Ondra or Chris Sharma videos, they don't seem to have skinned limbs!!! And even more sobering: have you seen what 11-year-olds get up nowadays??? Beyond belief?

But it's such great fun, isn't it? My only regret is that I only discovered these pleasures a few years ago :(
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:11 pm

malky_c wrote:Enjoyed that it brought back many good memories :D . Steve Ashton's book was something of a bible for me when growing up in the mid '90s. I did a fair number of the routes in it on summer evenings after school with my dad. Tended to be the slightly easier ones though. The only one I've done from that bunch is Shark Buttress, which scared the c.rap out of me (think we got a little off route though). The description for Wrinkled Tower (along with The Chasm on Glyder Fach) always put me off. The adjacent Dolmen Ridge was more in my comfort zone - been up that one a few times.

.... Is the Bryn Tyrch still good? Used to be a regular, but we started going to the Ty'n y Coed instead. Can't remember why now.


Mike Laing of Snowdonia Climbing told me that the guides refer to Steve's book as "Suicide in Snowdonia" :lol:

I found Wrinkled Tower MUCH easier than Shark Buttress (depending on the exact route you take up Shark Buttress). I would say that both SB and the Chasm are quite challenging (you need to be a skinny hobbit to get through the cave in the Chasm!!) But both great fun. Haven't done Dolmen Ridge yet, but it's on the radar...

As regards establishments of cultural, architectural and historical interest: I always used to go to Cobden's, but it seems to be closed, hence going the Bryn Twrch. The beer's pretty good, and there's a reasonable selection. Haven't been to Ty'n y Coed that I can recall; but I'll give it a go next time.

Might meet you on the rocks some day...
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:37 am

gaffr wrote:Milestone Buttress a fine place for shinning up rock. :)
Some of our earliest climbing was on the Milestone using the very grippy rock found there....I guess a bit more polished nowadays. It was in '63 when we camped near here.
I thought that I could recall an area of rock that we managed to shin-up?
1 Milestone.jpg
1aMilestone Ogwen.jpg


What brilliant pics! I don't recognize the rock you're on in the first short. It looks like you were doing a significantly technically harder route than I did - and having a lot of fun!!! Are those Pierre Alains you're wearing???
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Re: Gr3 Tryfan/Glyders scramble round; & reminder of a hero

Postby gaffr » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:57 am

Yes.... that part of Wales is a fine place to be getting into rock. The image was from the toe base of the Milestone Buttress. The area is full of climbing of the easy classic grades. As you show the Idwal slabs have numerous routes of a pleasant grade as have the continuing walls above. Many single pitch stuff nearby.
Around the corner on the East side of Tryfan there are lots of classic routes, on the Amphitheatre buttress at Craig yr Ysfa which is a classic most of which is easy climbing in a very fine surroundings and classics on Y Lliwedd with a round of the horseshoe to follow. Many other rocks which are easy to reach from camp there.
Enough around to keep you busy on a two week holiday. I had an old Austrian Puch scooter which I used to get down to Wales and to get around in the area.
The shoes were RL's made by Robert Laurie sp.? who had a gear shop in London an alternative to the PA's which as I recall were hard to get here.
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