One Minute Mountain: Crib Goch

For our long-running series of mini intros to Britain's favourite hills, Alex Roddie treads the tightrope of Crib Goch, the greatest bit of ridge in Wales and scene of more than a few white knuckle epics...

Crib Goch, dusk, 160 kb
Crib Goch, dusk
© Glyno, Jul 2017

Height: 923m (3,028ft)
Personality: Sharp, serrated, and spiky. It can even be menacing at times, but it's never boring. Crib Goch is the very definition of a knife-edged ridge.
What's in a name? The Red Ridge in Welsh, named due to the ruddy scree deposits on its flanks.
Greatest route? The best route is the most obvious one: the Traverse of Crib Goch, an archetypal, wildly popular, but also wildly exposed grade 1 scramble. Other ridges south of the Scottish border may be sharper for brief sections, but none is as continuously airy and committing as Crib Goch. After some hands-on-rock climbing to get up onto the crest, you have a choice: stride onwards right over the top, or keep to one side and use the ridge itself as a handrail. Most opt for the latter, but if you have a head for heights – and the weather is suitable – then there's nothing quite like walking the tightrope of Crib Goch. For a belter of a day out, continue over Garnedd Ugain to Snowdon and back over Y Lliwedd to complete the justifiably famous Snowdon Horseshoe.

Early morning on Crib Goch, 209 kb
Early morning on Crib Goch
© Rob Johnson, Sep 2011

When to climb it: Crib Goch can get monstrously busy on sunny summer weekends – it's one of the only mountains in England and Wales to feature regular genuine traffic jams. For a quieter outing, climb it mid-week or at one of the quieter times of year – say, March or October. However, Crib Goch is best avoided in rain and high winds. In winter it's a committing mountaineering route requiring full winter hardware and the experience to match.
So is it the hardest mountain in the UK? This is a common misconception. Many are more difficult in Scotland, although it's certainly amongst the most challenging summits to reach in England and Wales. It's arguable that nearby Tryfan is slightly more difficult, although Crib Goch is more exposed.
Any hidden corners? A quieter approach can be made from the north. The North Ridge is a slightly scrappy but satisfying grade 1 scramble that makes a good alternative to the main route from Pen-y-Pass, and arrives right at the summit. A little further west, Llyn Glas is a tiny pool in an idyllic location at the foot of the Clogwyn y Person Arête.
Pub quiz trivia: According to the Met Office, Crib Goch gets more rainfall than anywhere else in the UK. Over four metres a year on average, in fact. That'll be why it gets busy when the sun eventually comes out, then…
Where to stay? There are many options nearby. The YHA Snowdon youth hostel at Pen-y-Pass wins points for its history – a hundred years ago, it formed the base for pioneering climbing parties on the cliffs of Y Lliwedd. Ask to see the visitors' log with entries from George Mallory and Oscar Eckenstein. Further afield, there are numerous camping, hotel and self-catering options in Llanberis, Capel Curig and Beddgelert.
Local pub: The Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel just down the hill is the classic place for a pint at the end of a day on the Snowdon massif. It's a pub with genuine mountain character, stuffed to the rafters with old Everest memorabilia.

Crib Goch, 209 kb
Crib Goch
© johnhenderson, Feb 2015

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