There’s no easy way to summit Tryfan, but…
Tryfan is a 918m high mountain beside Lake Ogwen and forms part of the Glyderau range in Snowdonia.
This delightful mountain is also considered a challenge to ascend as there are no easy routes to the summit.
Unlike the neighbouring Snowdon peak, you won’t find any paved steps, signposts or cafes on Tryfan.
Tryfan is a serious mountain, so please read my disclaimer and remember that whichever route you take to the summit, you will need to use your hands to pull yourself over rocks and boulders.
All routes on this mountain involve scrambling.
Watch My 10 Minute Video:
My video includes a route description of Tryfan’s South Ridge route, drone footage and plenty of tips.
Parking and Approach
Very few mountains are located this close to a major road, and the starting point for the South Ridge is near Ogwen Cottage and the nearby visitor centre.
There are several (currently free) car parks and long laybys along the A5 adjacent to Lake Ogwen. These provide ample space except on the busiest of days when one should arrive early or start later when others are finishing their treks.
Parking enforcement is strict in this area, and during busy periods cars are often ticketed or towed for dangerous parking, so:
- Avoid blocking footpaths as you’ll force walkers into the busy A5 road.
- Don’t park on the road as it’s treated as a clearway.
- Don’t park opposite a solid white line if doing so forces overtaking cars into oncoming traffic.
Here is a map of the easiest route up to Tryfan.
The descent route I took is via West Gully but a descent back down the South Ridge is more popular:
Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies
Start at Ogwen Cottage
The ascent of Tryfan’s South Ridge via this route can be broken down into three sections:
- The initial approach from Ogwen Cottage to Llyn (Lake) Bochlwyd
- From the lake to the man-made stone and slate wall.
- From the wall to the summit.
Starting at the visitor centre, head up the steps towards the mountains and follow the well-worn path until an easily missed fork.
Take the left path at the fork and follow upwards, where a stream and waterfall appear on the left side.
Continue up to the mouth of Llyn Bochlwyd and step over the boulders, so the lake is to your right.
From The Lake to The Man-Made Wall
Continue up the partially paved path, which begins to rise and is gradually replaced with boulders and more uneven ground.
This section ends at the man-made wall, which is a perfect place to take shelter from the wind.
The wall marks the start of the summit push, and from here, you’ll need to use your hands and feet to overcome obstacles.
From The Man-Made Wall to The Summit
From the wall, this route becomes increasingly steeper and more challenging.
There are no paths or signposts to aid your ascent, but the best lines are well-worn, and you’ll find polished rocks to follow.
Tryfan’s South Ridge is a popular route for both ascent and descent, and if you find yourself on terrain that doesn’t look like hundreds of thousands of people have walked it before, you’re well off track.
The image below should help:
This image below was taken near the wall:
This image was taken near the summit and as you can see, it’s steep but ropes aren’t required:
This image was also taken near the summit:
On the summit of Tryfan, you’ll find two large stones, Adam and Eve.
Those feeling brave can jump across the two but be warned, their surface can be slippery after rain and in the winter.
The summit itself is flat with plenty of large boulders to sit on and of course, the views are superb:
The most popular descent route off Tryfan is via the South Ridge, back down to the stone wall where there are plenty of options:
- Head back to Ogwen Cottage.
- Go up Bristly Ridge.
- Cross the wall and head down towards the A5 and the Gwern Gof Uchaf campsite.
Alternatively, from the summit, head north for 15 metres and descend west via the wide gully (often called West Gully, Main Gully or Descent Gully).
This gully is fairly shallow and you shouldn’t need to use your hands but watch out for loose scree.
The gully leads to a man-made path which takes you gradually down to the A5. This is the most direct route off the summit but not the most exciting:
Loose screen in West/Main Gully
Avoid These Descent Routes
I don’t recommend descending Tryfan via the North Ridge; there are dozens of routes that lead onto the North Ridge and some of them require ropes.
Hikers who descend via the North Ridge often end up on steep terrain and each year, Ogwen Mountain Rescue receives dozens of emergency calls from people in difficulty.
Also, I don’t recommend trying to get off Tryfan via one of the many gullies or ridges to the west or east, as you can see from the image below, most lead to steep terrain:
Alternative Routes to the Summit of Tryfan
There are dozens of routes that lead to the summit of Tryfan, all require scrambling:
The North Ridge: This is my favourite route on Tryfan, but it’s twice as long as the South Ridge, harder to navigate and in places is steeper too. Read my guide to the North Ridge here.
Heather Terrace: This terrace is on the east side of Tryfan and links up with the South Ridge. Be warned, while the views are stunning, navigation can be problematic and getting onto the terrace can be difficult, especially in poor visibility.
West Gully/Main Gully: Located on the west side, this gully is reached via a path from the A5 and is full of stones, rocks, boulders etc, and isn’t the most enjoyable way up. It’s often used as a quick way to get off the mountain, including by those completing the Welsh 3000s challenge.
About Daniel Woodley
This description of Tryfan’s South Ridge route was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler, and was added to the Glyderau Scrambles section.
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 aka The Bald Scrambler
The South Ridge is widely recognised as one of the easiest routes up Tryfan but bear in mind that no routes are considered “easy”, and all require scrambling skills.
Ascent time: Around 2-3 hours from Ogwen Cottage.
Descent time: 1hr via West Gully or 1.5hrs via the South Ridge.
Popularity: Tryfan is a very popular mountain, and the South Ridge is often used as a descent route.
Watch out for: General navigation due to no obvious paths on upper sections. Shiny, slippery rocks, especially on the upper sections.
Fun rating: 7/10.
Scrambling grade: 1
My dislikes: None, this is a great route, but the North Ridge is longer, more challenging and better.
Equipment list: See my kit list here.
Similar routes in Snowdonia:
Seniors Ridge is broader and shorter and there’s a nice gully to start the route.
Recommended Guide Book:
Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)