Rock Climbing


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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 day.

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.




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