Tryfan South Ridge : Snowdonia

by | Feb 9, 2020 | Go Outside, Snowdonia, Wales, Walking

Route Information

An out-and-return circular walk

Route Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 5.57 km (3.48 miles)

Route Elevation: 910 m

Route Ascent: 575 m

Route Time: 3-4 hrs

Start and Finish: National Trust Carneddau & Glyderau Car Park, Tan y Celyn Ffrancon, Bethesda, North Wales, LL57 3LX

Depending on the featured walk and especially in mountainous areas, you may need to Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in to your own pace.


There are public toilets at the visitors centre and a food outlet selling hot drinks and food (When Open)

Llanberis is the nearest proper town for food and pubs, For more information have a look at the TripAdvisor Website


There are a few hazards along this route and care should be taken especially during the winter months. The steps up towards Cwm Bochlwyd can be tricky and there are a few slight scrambles and jagged rocks. From Where the stone wall ends head left and look for the path, do not head right given the drops and the technicality of the rock face. The route to the summit is hard to define so be cautious and it is a steep climb with rocks, boulders and scree in places.

The Urban Ranger Website cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent, and to be able to read a map and use a compass. Plan your route properly with the latest advice from the AdventureSmart website

Public Transport

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Weather Forecast

MWIS Snowdonia National Park Mountain Weather


Possibly the most technical mountain in Snowdonia, we take the south ridge to the summit.

Tryfan is famous for its reputation as being one of very few mountains in the UK where your hands are needed to reach the summit. Even more demanding is reaching the summit via the north ridge which is a grade one scramble. This walk enables you to get to one of Snowdonia’s toughest peaks via the South ridge which in its own right is still a difficult and confusing route, where your hands and ability to navigate are heavily needed.

I have wanted to climb Tryfan for a long while now and whilst i am still acquiring my scrambling skills, the north ridge is a couple of months away for me to climb it solo whilst keeping safe. So, on recent 4 day visit my plan was to climb the south ridge and then continue onto the Glyders. I have separated the two walks to make both walks accessible to everyone. But there is nothing to say you cannot download the Glyder’s GPX and continue your walk, if you are capable of doing so.

Tryfan is a mountain in the Ogwen Valley, in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales. It forms part of the Glyderau group, and is one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain, having a classic pointed shape with rugged crags

At 917.5 metres (3,010 feet) above sea level it is the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales. The name Tryfan is derived from its historical Welsh name of Tri-faen. Tri meaning three and faen meaning rocks which makes reference to the 3 rocky humps seen on the mountain’s summit.

Tryfan was voted Britain’s favourite mountain by Trail magazine.

I will start with the warnings first, Tryfan is a mountain that needs to be treated with respect no matter which route you take up it. This walk/climb is for those with previous experience of similar terrain and is not to be climbed in bad weather or poor visibility unless you are well equipped and have the skills needed. This mountain has taken many a life over the years and there is no easy route to the summit. Even with a map the paths come and go and leave you guessing as where to go next.

If you fall from this mountain, the chances are you will suffer serious injury and for that reason i would not suggest you walk it alone unless in very good weather. Common sense needs to be applied and the ability to know when to turn around and not become crag fast!

The walk starts from Llyn Ogwen Car Park and you will walk past the visitors centre and take the steps to the left of it and continue over the bridge until you come to a intersection of the path. Carry straight on ahead given the path to the right will take you to Llyn Idwal. From this point the path will steadily gain height until you come to some more steps that involve a little bit of scrambling at the side of Nant Bochlwyd. Once at the top there is a boulder field and the path is not easily visible, but you will cross the waterfall coming from Llyn Bochlwyd so the Llyn is to your right.

The path becomes visible again and is easy to follow as you make your way uphill through Cwm Bochlwyd. The day i covered this walk there was very low cloud and it was difficult to see more than 100 yards in front of myself. From this point Tryfan summit is directly above you to the left, but some 300 meters vertically higher. Keep following the path steeply uphill until you reach a wall with a stile at the col at Bwlch Tryfan.

Do not cross the stile but turn left and follow the wall so it is to your right, there is a marked path but could well be invisible during the winter months with snow. Once past this you will eventually come to another section of wall with another stile leading to Heather Terrace. Do not cross this either but continue to head upwards in a manner that is slightly sweeping left.

From this point i chose to take a path slightly to the left of the ridge which still involved me having to scramble and navigate boulders and rocks and i will be honest, i found finding a path impossible at times, but i kept using my map and GPS to keep me on course to the summit. At one-point i strayed too far to the right and found myself very exposed so moved back to the left a little.

Reaching the summit is not easy and i do not say this lightly in poor visibility, it would have been much easier with a clear view and i can understand why so many people have accidents on this mountain. Taking your time and constantly checking where you are will keep you safe. Due to such poor weather at the summit i never took any images of Adam n Eve or the surrounding views because there was none. On a good day i am sure the views would be impressive.

When i started my descent, the weather started to break and after around 10 mins i had reasonably good visibility and could see my route back down more easily. I also started to get great views of Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen below me. It was at this point i was going to continue my walk on to the Glyderau via Bristly Ridge but my phone went dead which meant i would not be able to blog the walk. I normally carry power banks and had forgotten to put them in my rucksack and for the second time in two days my Samsung Note 9 had died at altitude.

I used to take my DSLR with me; but for over a year now i just use my phone for weight reasons and practicality. Anyway, i headed back to my car the same route i had come up and charged my phone before setting back off to climb the Glyders. I will feature Glyder Fach & Glyder Fawr in my next blog.

Overall feelings about climbing the South ridge? with very poor visibility it made hard work of things and took the edge off my ascent. I will return in the summer on a good weather day to get the views i wanted. Achievement wise, it is always good to get another mountain ticked off.

Click bottom image for gallery

Viewranger Unlimited OS maps for Great Britain


Exclusive 10% discount for users of my website. With Viewranger new Ordnance Survey map subscription, you get unlimited access to all OS Explorer and Landranger maps for Great Britain at 15 zoom levels. The discount coupon code of “urbanranger2020″can only be used by clicking the button below.