Rock Climbing in Ogwen and Carneddau
As seen in the title of this page, there are two distinct regions
to be found here; each displays different characteristics, although
both areas go well together. The Ogwen area always seems to have
a fairly easygoing nature, despite being the home of some fairly
fearsome traditional routes, this is probably due to the many
low grade routes in such places as the Idwal Slabs, the East Face
of Tryfan and the Milestone Buttress- all have been a training
ground for aspiring climbers for many years, some routes were
put up in the last century.
The Carneddau has an equally long history of rock-climbing - Central
Gully (Ysgolion Duon) was climbed in 1879 for example. However,
although it covers a larger area than Ogwen, the Carneddau does
not have as many developed crags. Those that have been developed
are usually large (Ysgolion Duon) and/or sombre (Llech Ddu). Thankfully,
some of the more recent developments have been on friendlier south
facing crags such as Craig y Ddaear and Craig yr Ogof. the gem
of the Carneddau is the stunning Amphitheatre wall of Craig yr
Ysfa, a plethora of quite brilliant routes are to be found here,
guaranteed to stay in the mind for a long time.
The very high number of lower grade routes in Ogwen does not
mean that there aren't any high-grade extremes; there quite a
number and a number, such as the Suicide Wall routes, are amongst
the best mountain routes around. Indeed, some of the newer routes
are at the cutting edge of technical mountain climbing today.
As both areas are uplands the cliffs must be termed mountain
crags and do suffer from one problem, in other words rain! Rainfall
in some parts of the area can be as high as 3,000mm per annum,
coupled with low sunshine levels and a northerly or easterly aspect
some crags can take a long time to come into condition. In Summer,
some cliffs need a few days to dry out, others such as Braich
Ty Du buttresses, Bochlwyd and Idwal Slabs dry out fairly quickly.
Though it must be noted that cliffs such as Carreg Mianog and
Craig yr Ogof - both in the Carneddau have a Southerly aspect
and can be climbed on in a T-shirt even in October - given a fine
Getting to the Cliffs
For the cliffs on the Glyderau range (Ogwen) getting to the cliffs
is fairly straightforward at the moment, park in a layby alongside
the road, the A5(T). Once you are somewhere near to the cliff
you need to get to and take the nearest path close to the crag
you then just walk over open country. If there are fences please
respect them and look for the nearest stile, if there is no stile
then you are off route somewhere. The crags in the southern Carneddau
are also best approached from the A5(T); although Craig yr Ysfa
can be approached from the Conwy Valley to the East. For Llech
Ddu and Ysgolion Duon, the easiest approach is up Cwm Llafar;
here it is best to park in the village of Gerlan, above Bethesda,
and walk up the minor road to the start of the path.
There are few access problems to get onto the cliffs, the main
problem is with the parking of cars. For Llech Ddu and Ysgolion
Duon do not park at; or, anywhere near to the bridge leading over
to the Water Works. Park in the village of Gerlan, an upper section
of Bethesda, instead. Furthermore, do not park at the base of
the road leading up to Ffynnon Lloer, there is a parking area
just 100m up the road which only charges £1 - surely better
than getting you vehicule pushed out of the way by a tractor or
a rescue vehicle - which also need to use the road! If the outline
plans of the National Park go through, parking on the wide verge
on either side of the long stretch of road immediately East of
Llyn Ogwen will be banned, as will some other areas.
Of great importance in this area is the Arctic-Alpine vegetation,
do not 'garden' new routes, it could lead to the banning of some
climbing areas. It is particularly Important to heed this on the
Cwm Idwal, Ysgolion Duon and Llech Ddu cliffs.
Ogwen and Carneddau - Published by The Climbers Club. Written
by Iwan Arfon Jones and team.
Maps - Ordnance Survey
Landranger 1:50,000 No. 115
Outdoor Leisiure 1:25,000 No. 17
New routes information is available on this web site, for more
detailed information on developments, one should ask around the
shops in Llanberis or Capel Curig; or, look through a copy of
one of the recent new routes books.