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Secret Mountains Series. Tryfan

Published on 2 Mar 2020 by Gwion Llwyd

Where hiking meets proper mountaineering and an Everest connection. Tryfan is one of the great peaks of North Wales.

Yes, we know it’s not really a secret. Tryfan is well known and loved, and has been revered by serious climbers and mountaineers since the famous British explorers George Mallory and Sir Edmund Hillary each used it as a training ground before their expeditions to Everest.

But compared to its more famous neighbour Snowdon, Tryfan sees vastly fewer boots on its routes, and can still offer a magical day’s walking and climbing far from the daytripper crowds. For this reason, it’s going on our secret mountain list.

Secret Mountains Series. Tryfan

Introducing Tryfan 

If you like your days in the mountains to be truly ‘hands on’, Tryfan definitely needs to be on your next North Wales to-do list.

This 917-metre granite peak is part of the rocky Glyderau range in Snowdonia, not too far from Betws-y-Coed, Capel Curig or Llanberis.

It dominates the Ogwen Valley, and you will probably recognise its distinctive fin-like peak as you approach your starting point from the A5, in the western reaches of Snowdonia.

Tryfan is a mountain where hiking meets mountaineering, and you will need a good level of fitness and some previous scrambling experience to take it on safely, but ropes are not necessary. All the same, be prepared for a significant level of challenge and dress appropriately: this is definitely no easy stroll.

As well as a grade-one scramble, you can expect wild mountain goats, huge Ogwen valley views, and a serious sense of satisfaction when you get to the top.

The Freedom of Tryfan – would you Adam and Eve it?

Look out for the two huge granite obelisks at the summit of Tryfan – known as ‘Sion and Siân’ to Welsh-speaking locals, or ‘Adam and Eve’ to most English-speaking visitors. Tradition says that you win the ‘Freedom of Tryfan’ if you can make the leap between them. The gap is around 4 ft, but with a significant drop if you fail, so proceed with caution!

Routes up

Tryfan is a fantastically rewarding day out. If you feel up to the challenge, these are some of our favourite ways to get up and down.

A note of caution: before attempting to climb Tryfan we recommend that you do your research. Buy a good guidebook and invest in an Ordnance Survey map, map case and compass. And practise navigating using your compass before you go anywhere!

If in any doubt climb with a local guide like Snowdonia Walking and Climbing.

The South Ridge

More of a clamber than a scramble, this is probably the easiest way to the top – though perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘least difficult’. There is a path for most of the way up, albeit it not always obvious. Look out for the ‘tricky step’ just before you get to the top.

The Heather Terrace

This route up probably ranks second in line of difficulty to the South Ridge – as in it is slightly more difficult. Expect a combination of scrambling and walking along a good ledge on Tryfan’s east face. The Heather Terrace joins the South Ridge for the final push to the summit.

The North Ridge

Definitely the most technically demanding of the three routes listed here, the North Ridge is a classic grade 1 scramble. Expect hands-on rock all the way to the summit and massive creds when you reach the top.

Mountain Safety

All the usual safety advice applies: never go into the mountains without the right gear. Our bare minimum recommendations would be waterproofs, spare layers, food, water, gloves, hat / sun hat (and sun cream if you are climbing in summer), map, compass, mobile phone and whistle. Make sure you check the weather before you depart, and if possible, tell someone at home which route you intend to take and what time you expect to finish. You should always thoroughly research your route so you have the best possible idea of what to expect.

Stay near Tryfan

Looking for somewhere to stay nearby? Take a look at these beautiful holiday cottages in Betws-y-Coed.

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