Main Gully and East Gully sit on the North Face of Glyder Fach in Snowdonia and while they offer exciting scrambling at grade 1+, the real adventure is on the adjacent ridges that offer more challenging scrambling at grade 2 to 3.
Here you’ll find my route description of Main Gully Ridge and East Gully Ridge. You may also wish to explore my video published in July 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 North Face of Glyder Fach
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.
The North side of Glyder Fach can be reached from the path behind Ogwen Cottage on the A5 road, just take a left at the easily missed fork, a short distance behind the cottage.
Follow the well-worn path up the rocks and then leftwards over the stream. Continue until the path starts to rise above the lake (Llyn Bochlwyd) to the right and come off the path and follow the very faint grassy path up to the foot of Glyder Fach’s north face – head for the distinctive “A” shaped slab of rock known as Alphabet Slab.
The map and images below may help:
Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies
The terrain on the grassy stretch can be wet and boggy in the winter but is usually dry in the summer.
The loose scree below Alphabet Slab can be mostly avoided if you choose your route carefully, watch out for the faint climber’s path.
Main Gully Ridge and East Gully Ridge
The image below shows the two gullies and the two ridges:
Part 1: Main Gully Ridge Scramble
This scrambling route will be a grade 3 if you include the lower buttress section just above the traverse path at the start of the ridge. Otherwise, it’s a grade 2.
To bypass this very short but tricky section, stay in the gully for 5-6 metres and join the ridge slightly further up.
The scrambling above the corner buttress is enjoyable but with steep drops all around and a large stone near the top to overcome.
The rock is fairly grippy here but with the potential to be treacherous if wet.
The scrambling above the blocking stone maintains the grade, and I found it easy to stay on the ridge line (go right at the corner) and avoid the steeper section to the left.
As I followed the ridge, a wide rift appeared with a hopelessly steep tower to the left. I went up the rift to the chimney at the top.
The final stretch of the route is over blocks to the top where the East Gully comes into view on the right.
I went down East Gully to start the next scramble – East Gully Ridge. The rocks in this gully are often wet and almost always slippery; anyone coming down this route will need to take extra care.
Scramblers shouldn’t descend too far down East Gully as there’s very steep climbing terrain at the base.
Part 2: East Gully Ridge Scramble
The start of East Gully Ridge can be found on the Traverse Path only a metre or two from East Gully, look for two ribs with a heather tunnel between them (see photo 1).
Alternatively, the scrambler can start lower down but this section is particularly steep and exposed and best avoided unless roped.
I took the left rib which was fairly worn and contained less vegetation than the right rib.
The scrambling here is excellent with plenty of holds yet fairly steep and worthy of the grade. I found the line easy to follow although the upper section of the rib gets steeper (see photo 2).
Photo 1: The left rib at the start of the route.
Photo 2: 20m or so up from the start, the terrain gets steeper.
The terrain above the ribs certainly gets steeper and then above this, there are plenty of blocks to overcome with several lines and options.
Then came the crux of the route, well, for me anyway:
A steep ramp.
The ramp is steeper than it looks in the photo but when I reached the top, I couldn’t find any holds on the upper section and with steep drops on either side, I made a retreat for a rethink.
In this YouTube video, two climbers made it over the top but with the reassurance of rope protection.
I chose to avoid it completely by taking the terrace ledge on the right and rejoining the ridge further up – although this was far from easy and involved an awkward step with a steep drop into the gully to the right.
Either route is well within the grade and with the potential for a fatal fall.
Anyone on this route can escape into East Gully to the right or via the chimney section on Main Gully Ridge to the left.
The remainder of the route involved predictable but fun scrambling over blocks up to the top where East/Main Gullies meet.
For scramblers who wish to descend the way they came, I suggest going down East Gully (with care) and across the Traverse Path to the top of the Alphabet Slab.
Scramblers should avoid the lower section of East Gully as they will need rope protection here.
To ascend Glyder Fach, there are a couple of options:
- Head up the obvious gully with loose scree to the top near the famous Cantilever Stone. This is the easiest route but is somewhat dull.
- Take a left at the top of the ridges for 30m and then ascend over boulders and some grade 1 scrambling to a point between Bristly Ridge and the Cantilever Stone. This route is more fun and challenging but route finding could be an issue.
Continue up the loose scree in the gully to the Cantilever Stone (boring) or take a left for ~30m and then ascend blocks and grade 1 terrain to a point between Bristly Ridge and the Cantilever Stone (fun but route finding can be a challenge).
Route Profile and More Info
Scrambling Grade: Both ridges will be a grade 3 if the scrambler includes the lower sections, otherwise Main Gully Ridge is a Grade 2 and East Gully Ridge remains a grade 3.
Navigation: Easy to find Alphabet Slab once you know where it is. Some prior knowledge of this side of Glyder Fach is advisable so I suggest scrambling both gullies before attempting the more challenging ridges. The continuation up to Glyder Fach is straightforward if you remain in the scree-filled gully but could be problematic if you take the more enjoyable left line above The Chasm Face route.
Dangers: At grades 2 and 3 there are plenty of dangers but beyond the obvious, these routes will be more challenging in wet or damp conditions and East Gully Ridge becomes a grade 3S (severe) when wet. While there are escape routes into either gully, there are also steep sections throughout this area that can only be overcome with rope protection. Scramblers should avoid the lower section of East Gully Ridge unless they plan to abseil the cliffs below.
Approach Time: 1 hour.
Ascent Time: 30-45 mins or so for each ridge, depending on your scrambling speed.
Popularity: Fairly quiet on this side of Glyder Fach although you may see a few climbers on either side of the two gullies.
Fun Rating: Main Gully Ridge: 8/10. East Gully Ridge: 8/10
My Dislikes: This side of the mountain may remain damp well into the afternoon on cloudy days and as such shouldn’t be attempted in the morning if there’s a risk of moisture. The descent of East Gully can be treacherous when wet.
Kit List: My kit list is here.
I’ve summited Glyder Fach more times than I can remember but I’m now revisiting past routes and also discovering new lines for this website and my YouTube channel which is an ongoing project.
I hope you found my video, photos, map and description helpful – subscribe to my channel for the latest video content.
I first found out about Main Gully Ridge and East Gully Ridge in Steve Ashton’s “Scrambles in Snowdonia” which I always carry with me.
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 Main Gully Ridge and East Gully 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