Y Garn is a popular mountain in the Glyderau with gentle slopes down the south-westerly side and rocky terrain on the north-easterly end. It’s here that scramblers will find one of the most exciting routes up to the summit – the east ridge.
The route can be broken down into three sections and in this guide, I’ll show you all of them.
This is a serious scrambling route (grade 2) and many will want to bring a rope for protection.
Everything you need to know about this grade 2 line can be found in this article and also in my video published in August 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 the East Ridge of Y Garn
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.
Gaining the east ridge of Y Garn couldn’t be easier and the start is only a short distance from Ogwen Cottage.
Take the path behind Ogwen Cottage up to Llyn Idwal and go anti-clockwise around the lake to the foot of east ridge.
The map below may help:
Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies
Section 1: The Lower Ridge
The lower ridge makes up the bulk of this route and the scrambling here ranges from grade 1 up to grade 2 but all of the difficult parts here can be avoided and bypassed.
You’ll find a good mixture of grass, heather, bilberry bushes and rock on this section with a few steep sections.
While there is no clear line marking the route, finding a suitable line isn’t problematic but watch out for the steep scramble near the start of the route, this is the hardest part of the lower ridge.
Section 2: The Grassy Area
Between the lower and upper ridges there’s a grassy area to traverse.
While of little interest, it does clearly separate the two ridges and it’s here that you’ll get your first close-up look at the intimidating upper ridge and the grade 2 scrambling that awaits:
Section 3: The Upper Ridge
There are two ways to gain the upper ridge.
The traditional line takes you slightly left of the lower section, don’t be intimidated by the steepness of the rock face here, continue leftwards and an easier scrambling line should come into view on your right.
Alternatively, go right over grass and gain height to rising steps which lead to the ridge.
The traditional line is best in all weather conditions but the alternative line is feasible and perfectly doable in the dry.
Watch out for loose rocks on the upper section, especially on the alternative line.
Once you are on the upper ridge, the crux of the route can’t be avoided.
The steep slabs on the alternative line
Once on the ridge, you will soon come to the crux of the route.
As the ridge narrows, a block stands in your way with two apparent lines around it – left or right.
I initially took the left line (up a ramp) and couldn’t find suitable holds, the sloping ramp was also of concern, so I backtracked a few metres and took the right line.
This right line led me to an exposed position over narrow ledges with a steep drop to the right and also a bold step but the holds here felt secure.
The narrow ledges on the crux of the route
While not technically difficult, the ledges to the right of the block are exposed
Beyond the crux of the route, the ridge soon levels out to a grassy area with an easy stroll up to the summit of Y Garn.
Here you can look back at the ruggedness of the route:
A screenshot from my drone footage – looking down at the upper section of east ridge
From the summit of Y Garn, there are many options with the quickest descent to Llyn Idwal via the hiking route on the northeast ridge (located adjacent to the east ridge).
Also, consider the south path down to the small lake and then via the steps next to Devil’s Kitchen down to Llyn Idwal.
Route Profile and More Info
Scrambling Grade: Grade 2.
Navigation: Finding the start of the route is easy but navigation on the lower ridge section could be problematic in poor visibility.
Dangers: The crux of the route on the upper section is very exposed and can’t be avoided. There are steep sections on the lower ridge but most can be avoided.
Approach Time: 15 mins.
Ascent Time: 1.5 hours to 2 hours depending on speed and how often you stop to admire the view.
Popularity: Fairly quiet on this ridge as climbers and scramblers often gravitate to the Idwal Slabs area and hikers use the adjacent northeast ridge.
Fun Rating: 7.5/10.
My Dislikes: There are lots of grass, heather and bilberry bushes on the lower ridge that break up the scrambling.
Kit List: I was wearing La Sportiva TX4 Mid Boots on this scramble. My full kit list is here.
Similar Routes in Snowdonia: Seniors Ridge.
Y Garn’s east ridge is a fun grade 2 scramble on the quieter side of Llyn Idwal. Expect a few sections of exposure and dleightful views down into Cwm Idwal and the Ogwen Valley.
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 by Steve Ashton (#ad)
About Daniel Woodley
This description of Y Garn’s east ridge 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 aka The Bald Scrambler