Cneifion Arete Grade 3 Scramble

By The Bald Scrambler

Published By: Daniel Woodley. Updated: 17th October 2023. Filed at: Glyderau Scrambles. Disclosure: I may earn a commission from purchases made via links. Disclaimer: Scrambling is a dangerous sport, this route description does not provide step-by-step instructions. Read Disclaimer.

Cneifion Arete is a popular climbing and scrambling route from Cwm Cneifion to Y Gribin. While some climbers grade the first pitch of the line as a “Diff” others claim it’s a grade 3 scramble throughout.

Airy and exposed, this is a classic adventure but watch out for crosswinds and shiny rocks.

This is a potentially dangerous route and many will want to bring a rope for protection.

Everything you need to know about this challenging grade 3 line can be found in this article and also in my video published in September 2022.

In a hurry?

Watch my video and use the chapters to skip to the relevant sections if you wish:

Approach – How to Get to Cneifion Arete

My parking map displays over 250 spaces, many of them in laybys and free car parks along the A5. Go check it out if you’ve never visited the area before but be warned, this is a popular mountain range, and parking can be problematic on busy weekends but it’s always quieter than on the Snowdon range.

There are several ways to approach the start of Cneifion Arete:

  • Via Seniors Gully.
  • Taking a path east of Llyn Idwal that rises to the side of Seniors Gully up to Cwm Cneifion.
  • Descending off Seniors Ridge.

Climbers often tackle Idwal Slabs and then continue onto Cneifion Arete. Scramblers often take on Idwal Buttress or Idwal Staircase before heading up to Seniors Ridge and then down to Cwm Cneifion.

I recommend going via Seniors Gully which is a low-grade 1 route and a nice warm-up.

The map and images below may help:

How to get to Cneifion Arete

Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies

There are three parts of the route:

  • The initial 20-30 metres which many claim, quite reasonably, is a “Diff” climbing grade and the crux of the route.
  • An avoidable chimney scramble.
  • The remainder of the route which is a grade 3 scramble although climbers often use rope protection throughout. 

Part 1: The Initial Section (The Crux)

The first 20-30 metres of the route is steep and while there are plenty of holds for the scrambler, some are shallow and there’s plenty of exposure here.

I found I had to reach on a couple of moves but I never felt out of my depth.

The rock is grippy but with the potential to be slippery after rain due to the rocks being slightly polished in places.

Route finding is straightforward – this is a popular route with well-worn and scratched rocks at the start.

The obvious line bends and rises leftwards but after only 10m or so, there is a bold step to the right on a shallow hold with a steep drop below.

Start of Cneifion Arete

The start.

Cneifion Arete first pitch

The well worn rocks mark the start.

Part 2: The Chimney

Immediately after the crux, the scrambler will find a delightful chimney section to wriggle up.

Some edging and bridging moves will aid the ascent – I really enjoyed this part of the route but it’s completely avoidable via a line out to the left.

One can also make use of the holds to the sides of the chimney rather than going deep into it.

The chimney on Cneifion Arete

Go straight up the middle (fun) or bypass it on the left (boring).

In the chimney

In the chimney – one can use the holds on the outside to avoid this somewhat messy scramble.

Part 3: The Remainder of the Route

Above the chimney, the route eases slightly but the scrambler will still find a few bold moves further ahead.

Climbers often find a line as close to the ridge’s edge as possible where there’s plenty of exposure while scramblers usually trend slightly left of the edge.

There are several ledges and places to stop and take a breather and overall, I found route finding was easy with plenty of worn rocks visible.

This part of the route is also airy and subject to strong winds which could be enough to knock a scrambler off his footing so extra care should be taken.

The final section eases onto a grassy ledge with views down to Llyn Idwal and beyond.

 

The upper section of Cneifion Arete

Me three-quarters of the way up Cneifion Arete

Near the top of Cneifion Arete

Near the top

Continuation

Once the end of the route has been reached, there are a few options:

  • Ascend Y Gribin to Glyder Fawr and descend via Seniors Gully, Devil’s Kitchen or head over to Glyder Fach.
  • Descend Y Gribin.
  • Descend Y Gribin for 200-250 metres and then ascend via the easily missed climber’s path back to the start of Cneifion Arete.
  • Make a bold dash down the other side of the ridge and head over to Glyder Fach via one of the exciting grade 3 routes such as Dolmen Ridge.

Comparing Cneifion Arete to Other Grade 3 Routes

I found Cneifion Arete slightly easier and less exposed than the crux section on Dolmen Ridge.

While I’ve done other grade 3 routes, none can be compared to Cneifion Arete.

The first section is steep and adventurous and while the upper sections aren’t quite as exposed, the interest is maintained all the way to the top.

Route Profile and More Info

Scrambling Grade: Grade 3.

Navigation: The start of the route is easy to locate from Cwm Cneifion and several routes lead here.

Dangers: Many. This is a steep grade 3 route (some say a “Diff”) and many will rope up for the crux section, if not all of it. I don’t recommend this route in windy weather or after rain. There have been fatalities on this route.

Approach Time: 1 hour.

Ascent Time: 1.5 hours (but I stopped to take lots of drone footage).

Popularity: This route is popular with climbers and scramblers, you may need to wait in turn.

Fun Rating: 10/10.

My Dislikes: On a fine weekend, the sheer number of slow roped parties will be a hindrance.

Kit List: I was wearing La Sportiva TX4 Mid Boots on this scramble. My full kit list is here.

Map: OS Explorer Waterproof OL17.

Similar Routes in Snowdonia: Dolmen Ridge. East Gully Ridge. Maybe Tower Rib. Bastow Buttress.

More:

Cneifion Arete is one of my favourite scrambling routes in Snowdonia and the crux is a heart-stopping section that will thrill even experienced climbers.

I initially found this route in a guidebook called “Scrambles in Snowdonia” by Steve Ashton. It was first published back in 1980 but has been updated several times since, most recently in 2017.

If you want a guidebook to take with you on scrambles, this compact book is the best.

Recommended Guide Book:

Scrambles in Snowdonia

Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)

About Daniel Woodley

This description of Cneifion Arete was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.

From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors but scrambling is his real passion.

.

Daniel Woodley

Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler

Have fun, keep safe. Hopefully I’ll see you on the mountains one day

By The Bald Scrambler

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