Are these the Best Grade 2 Scrambles in Snowdonia?
Why is Snowdonia one of the best places to go Scrambling?
In short- it’s packed full of action throughout all the grades of scrambling and many of them have relatively short approaches. We love the Ogwen Valley for this very reason- there are so many different routes just on Tryfan alone (Which is just off the A5) without even considering The Glyders (which are equally amazing!)
This is the second in our 3 part series of the best scrambles in Snowdonia where we share our top 5 routes of each grade. Our aim is not to give extensive step by step route descriptions (don’t worry we will include links and further reading for that) but to give you inspiration and to wet your appetite to get out and try the routes. We will also offer any hints and tips for each route from personal experience which you may not find in any guide books!
What is a Grade 2 Scramble?
Grade 2 scrambles are the middle ground of scrambles where you might want to consider using a rope unless you are very experienced or a good climber.
They will usually require more use of the hands and some easy climbing moves in places. The actual scrambling sections are usually longer than a grade 1 and route finding can get more tricky. You also need to take care not to stray off the scramble onto harder territory where a rope and rock climbing gear is essential.
A rope is advised to tackle grade 2 scrambles although more experienced parties may do the routes without.
If you want to start with some easier scrambles first why not check our blog out on the best grade 1 scrambles in Snowdonia.
For those unsure of the scrambling grades please see our blog on Scrambling Routes Explained blog.
Here are our Top 5 Favourite Grade 2 Scrambles in Snowdonia
Pinnacle Ridge- Pen Yr Ole Wen
This one is not for the faint hearted, however it does provide an epic photo...
It also has a really quick approach and you can probably do the approach, the route and the descent in around an hour and half.
I made the stupid mistake of not properly reading the guide book and ended up going up ground which I should have been on a rope for- lesson learnt! So you don’t make the same mistake - this diagram from Hill Explorer shows the correct way of going around the pinnacles. I went around to the left of the first pinnacle and had to do a really awkward down climb to get back to where I should have been on the right!
The approach for Pinnacle Ridge is only 15-20 mins up some rather unforgiving paths which can be indistinct and on scree. However, you can’t really go wrong finding it as the 2 horns of the pinnacles can be seen virtually as soon as you come off the A5.
Once you find you way up to the base of the route you will see an old stone wall. Just above this there is a grassy ramp off to the left. Once at the end of the ramp you ascend the ridge and reach the first pinnacle quickly. Here make sure you stay to the RIGHT OF THE 1ST PINNACLE! (That’s unless you are doing it with gear and plenty of experience)
The second pinnacle is where you can get the epic photo and some exhilarating airy exposure. I mean it- it’s seriously exposed so don’t risk doing this if you are not comfortable with that. The consequences of a fall at this point are really high so if I was doing this again I would use a rope.
Once you're over the second pinnacle that’s pretty much the scramble finished! Short and sweet and slightly terrifying without a rope!
I love this route as it has a short approach, is easy to find and it leads onto 2 further brilliant scramble routes. This with continuation and cneifion arete is probably my favourite day out in Snowdonia and i’ve done it many times now.
To find it all you need to do is walk past the iconic idwal slabs (which will probably be covered in climbers as usual) and look out for the dark cleft off to the left just after it. If there has been a lot of wet weather it can be pretty wet and you do need to take care on it as it can be extremely slippy. For that reason I would advise using a rope if it’s been wet.
Once you have found the route you can't really go wrong- just keep heading up with the dark overhanging rock to your right. There are no hard or easy sections to note- it’s just a straight forwards hands on scramble all the way to the top.
I think the reason this gets a grade 2 is because it can be quite slippy and also it’s a continuous climb all the way up rather than having any walking sections in the middle.
Once you are getting to the top you will cross some grassy ledges and can choose what to do next. Most people carry on and do continuation (route below) otherwise it’s a pretty short day out and it would be tricky to find an easy and nice route down. If you chose to do continuation then you can either descend down Cwm Cneifion or carry on and do Cneifion Arete (grade 3) if you have the gear.
This video by UTennCols88 is a quick video including continuation and Cneifion Arete shows Idwal Staircase off pretty well and you can see how great the other routes too.
Continuation, Idwal Slabs
This is a lovely route with amazing views and some varied climbing. The rock is consistently good throughout and is a great place to practice rope skills.
From the top of Idwal Slabs/staircase walk up some open grassy ground aiming for the distinctive orange rocks of Continuation which is just to the left of a vegetated gully.
You can pretty much and choose your way up- just keep heading up! It’s pretty much all the same grade with possibly some grade 3 moves in certain places if you choose to make it harder. Most hard moves have terraces that allow you to by pass the difficult sections but there are some exposed trickier moves (which are good fun!)
You will eventually top out onto seniors ridge where you can choose to descend back down through Cwm Cneifion or carry on and do Cneifion Arete (grade 3):
South East Ridge Y Garn
This lovely route is easy to pick out from Llyn Idwal- This video by Purplemonkeyelephant shows how easy it is to pick out (on a good day!). The day we did it, it was not such a good day so you will see a distinct lack of photos on this one but have made up for it by sharing some videos.
The best bit of the route is the scrambling section on Castell y Geifr which is slightly intimidating but great fun.
The lower section of the scramble is made up of intermittent grassy and heather ledges but there are some fun sections on these.
Once above these the ridge gets flatter and goes off to the left a little bit towards a big wall. This is where the best scrambling starts! Hill Exlorer has a good video showing the best of the scrambling from this point on here:
As you will see from the video you will eventually end up on a narrow ridge up to the base of the wall. The best way to get up this is off to the right. There is plenty of exposure on this section but there are good ledges and it’s all quite confidence giving.
From here you will eventually follow the edge of Cwm Clyd up to the top of the summit of Garn which offers amazing views over the Glyders.
We shall certainly be attempting this route again in the future on a much better weather day to make the most of the views!
Bastow Buttress – Tryfan
Bastow Buttress is on the fabulous east face of Tryfan where some of the best scrambling and climbing routes lie. It’s probably one of the more popular routes because it’s the first proper scrambling route you get to on heather terrace if coming from the A5 (closest route)- it’s therefore a good route for the impatient!
It’s also a fantastic route because it tops out just below the north tower on Tryfan so you still have all the best scrambling ahead of you if you continue up the north ridge to make a full day of it.
To get to it, the easiest way is to walk up past Little Trfyan, which will no doubt be swarming with climbers (on that magnificent sweeping slab!) and head up towards the fence line. You will then turn right and head up to heather terrace which goes along Tryfan’s flank about ⅔ of the way up.
The route is easy enough to find as it runs to the right of the first major gully you reach. The first few moves are probably the most scary of the whole route as it involves quite an airy and exposed step off to the right.
You then follow the relatively easy line to follow all the way up and can pick and choose how hard to make it. There are a few committing moves further up which is why this one is graded as a 2 but it’s never too committing.
Beyond The Trail made a good video showing the route here:
As you climb further up you will start to see people on other routes further left and on their way up to the summit of Tryfan. You top out at the Cannon stone level so you get a photo opportunity as well as the rest of Tryfan to scramble up and enjoy!
WHAT KIT DO YOU NEED FOR GRADE 2 SCRAMBLING?
For grade 2-3 scrambles we would recommend you have the following kit:
- Approach shoes with a sticky sole and good edges
- 30-60m rope depending on where you are scrambling. We tend to use a 30m to reduce weight and just do shorter pitches,
- Nuts and hex set as a minimum
- 2-3 smaller cams (not essential but do come in useful and you will end up using these if you progress to rock climbing)
- A selection of slings (for pinnacles and flakes) 4 x 60cm, 3 x 120cm and 1 x 240cm
- 5 carabiners
- 3 BOA HMS carabiners
- Belay plate
- Nut key
We stock all of these items on our amazon store here.
RECOMMENDED SCRAMBLING COURSES
If you are new to scrambling then we thoroughly recommend you taking a scrambling course with a professional first. It will give you the preparation needed to get out onto the mountains safely and have a great day out. We have used the following companies for scrambling and climbing courses and highly recommend them both:
Beyond The Edge: Run specific scrambling courses in Snowdonia which are absolutely fantastic. They have enabled us to go out and be completely independent on all scrambling grades and got us started with trad climbing. Chris and Alex are very generous with their time and give you all the encouragement you need to get out on the mountains, have a good time and be safe.
Leading Edge: Run a variety of rock climbing and scrambling courses. We have been on specific tailored climbing courses with them to enable us to push our trad climbing grade and can’t recommend them enough. They are also based in Snowdonia and you can often bump into Cath or Sam at the Siabod café before and after days out. Sam is an inspirational teacher and is highly regarded in the outdoor industry.
RECOMMENDED SCRAMBLING BOOKS
North Wales Scrambles- Gary Smith: This is the first Snowdonia scrambling book we bought and it’s brilliant. It has the all the best routes in the area with detailed photos and easy to follow route descriptions.
Scrambles in Snowdonia- Cicerone: We use this alongside Gary Smiths book as it helps with navigating the routes and has some slightly different routes to try. The photos are also slightly different which helps enormously with route finding on some routes with more complex lines.
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia- Cicerone: This book is useful to use alongside the specific scrambling books for bigger days out if you want to link up different mountains.
Snowdonia Harvey Map: It’s vital you don’t just rely on books to navigate the mountains- always carry a map. The books will only cover the specific route you are doing and if you end up off that route then you need to be able to find your way off the mountain. We like Harvey maps the best as they have the crags in much higher detail which is easier for scrambling and climbing.
We hope this blog gives you the inspiration to get out and try the routes. As ever please do contact us with any questions- we would love to hear from you.
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