Frankly I thought the stuff about the pancreas leaking blood into

the abdominal cavity while you lay there in terrible pain was a bit

much. I generally scramble or climb with a strong awareness that

falling off is a bad thing, but no more.


That pointy thing is the start of

Crib Goch viewed from the Pyg Track

above Pen y Pas. All very nice and obvious

Alex, on the other hand, had drawn a finely detailed map in his head

that showed every clinical detail of what would happen should he

plummet from the very narrow, very exposed exposed natural masonry

ahead of us. First the friction and pain, then the scraping and

breaking, the abrasion and the gouging and finally, after the brief relief

of stopping amid a welter of compound fractures, a long, slow,

agonising death from internal injuries. And those are just the parts

he chose to share with me.


Fantastic views across Llyn

Lliddaw to Lliwedd, the other, easier side of the

Horseshoe, you can just make out the descent path on the



Got that? Kindly warning

to wandering

day trippers, though if you don't know

what CG is in the first


But I digress. Not a good thing thing when you're

scrambling on one of Britain's most famously exposed ridges.

'Exposed' by the way, is tight-arse, guidebook speak for

'mega-plummet potential'. Crib Goch is very exposed. You

have a choice, fall right and fly, fall left and slide,


And it all sort of creeps up on you. The start of the

Horseshoe from Pen y Pas shares the Pyg Track trade route

then where the Pyg bolts over the ridge towards Llyn Llydaw,

the Horseshoe sneers smugly and begins a gentle meander up

an easy-angled, blocky buttress towards the start of Crib




Easty scramblin on the

blocky approach to the ridge

proper. Good grippy rock with loads of


The sunshine and blue sky came from another, more gentle

hill day - maybe one in the Cotswolds - making the sudden

appearance of Crib Goch's crocodile teeth even more

disconcerting. For some reason, photos never seem to do it

justice, so let's try words.

As the buttress narrows gradually you pop over a final minor

turret and the start of Crib Goch proper. The ridge has

actually been quite badly designed at this point. On the

right towards Cwm Glas, the drop is near as dammit sheer

from the top, but that's the side where the best footholds

are. On the other side, it's less steep, but the holds are

rubbish. Someone ought to change them round. And ahead of

you is around 100 metres or so of narrow, twisting ridge

complete with what, from the start, look like desperately

steep and narrow pinnacles.



Ooh, er... Suddenly everything goes all crocodile's tail as the ridge twists off towards the famous pinnacles

I think this was where Alex started wondering about how

his pancreas was going to cope with a 1000-foot fall and I

mused on how the thing had got so much sharper since the

last time I was there, which I do every time. Joking aside,

Crib Goch may only be graded a grade 1 scramble (I/II as a

winter climb) but it's far more exposed than stuff like

Tryfan's North Ridge or Striding Edge on Helvellyn. If you

don't want a gibber fest, make sure you're happy with big

drops on either side.

The great thing is that the actual scrambling isn't remotely

difficult. If it was two foot off the ground you'd romp along the

top, as it is, most people will want to keep their hands on something

solid for at least some of the time.



Alex contemplates the fate of his


Every so often there's a flat pavement of a viewing platform to

match up to the lush views, over to bleak Lliwedd on the other side

of the Horseshoe, down to Llyn Llydaw where Alex said diamonds were

dancing in the surface of the water and ahead to Snowdon summit, 'Yr

Wyddfa' with its distinctive but thankfully so far invisible eye-sore

of a caff. But until you reach them, the pinnacles tug at your mind

and the exposure at your pancreas. Or at least I think that's what he





Holds are generally sound and

large, but be careful of the odd loose spike

The first pinnacle looks distinctly necky, but it's the one you can

safely sneak around on the left, though taking it direct is more

exposed than hard. The second one - I think - looked less avoidable,

so I valiantly sent Alex up for a quick recce. Result: 'No, no, no,

no, nooo...' A quick detour round the corner to the left, a short,

slightly exposed traverse - death factor 1.5 - and then up back to

the crest.

Looking ahead towards the


generally it's best to stay on the crest

and take them direct

Generally it's better to stay on the crest and take the pinnacles

direct, the nasty, loose paths off to the side are actually more

dangerous than the proper and obvious route, so don't get seduced

onto the loose rubble.

The final pinnacle looks horrendous from a

distance and even below, a stepped climb up above a dizzying drop.

The good news though, is that once you're on it, the holds feel big

and secure and the pull onto the top takes you back onto the crest of

the ridge and an easy scramble down the ridge onto a wide, grassy




And more pinnacles - the pointy

thing is Snowdon's main summit

It's all got real wow factor, especially when you're sitting

safely looking back with your internal organs all securely in place -

Bwlch Coch (2816) I think the place is called on the map - and we

were congratulating each other on being so brave and going

lightheaded with the views and the sunshine. And somehow we forgot

that the crocodile's tail has a final swish to it. You still have to

get up onto Crib y Ddysgl and there's another steep, rocky buttress

in the way.

Off the final pinnacle and a

grassy, flat thing beckons invitingly




The best scrambling on Y

Lliwedd is close to the

edge with good views of the awesome face

It's best to start on the left then crack directly up onto the ridge,

but in the spirit of dawdling cowardice - mine - we engineered a

creative traverse further left before hitting the crest and slumping

down to take in the great views back towards Crib Goch. It's around

here that you suddenly see just how steep and long the drop off on

the northern side really is, so it's an ideal place for more self

congratulation and Jaffa Cakes. We also had beautiful views looking

over towards Y Garn, the Glyderau and beyond to the Carneddau as well

as up to the coast and beyond.

In scrambling terms, from here it's all over bar the

shouting, but for a full day it seemed rude not to head on

up, past the standing stone and a man feeding gulls, and

along by the railway to the summit for a bite of lunch and a

photographic record of the Ford altitude best before

plummeting down the loose scree to the saddle between Yr

Wyddfa and Y Lliwedd, a big, dark rotten tooth of a thing

festooned with long, mountain rock routes.

The path down is loose and poorly defined, but there's enough easy

scrambling if you keep to the ridge on the way up to make things

bearably interesting and little danger unless you simply must walk

off the edge of the cliff. We didn't. From the top of Lliwedd, chased

by dark-looking clouds, we dropped down the ridge then headed down

the steep, broken but easy path towards Llyn Llydaw.

The view down into the cwm from

the top of the descent path below Lliwedd

all over bar the pulping of your internal


It was here that Alex tripped over a rock while gawping at the view

and ruptured his pancreas. Just joking, but the view is reinforced by

a sort of clinical logic. It's great looking up at a skyline and

knowing you're traversed the whole thing. Bloody fantastic. Not sure

if it really is the 'best' UK mountain day, but a good one by any

standards. Thanks for the company Alex, and for keeping your internal

organs together when it really mattered.

Fact File


Distance: 8 miles approx.

Time: between six and

eight hours depending on speed and conditions. Crib Goch can get very

crowded at weekends, especially in the summer when it may be worth


Escape None from Crib Goch proper. From the broad, grassy

saddle at Bwlch Coch you can, drop down on either side, the north is

safer, but only in an emergency. Beyond this you can tuirn left at

the standing stone where the Pyg and Miner's tracks hit the summit

ridge and follow either back to Pen y Pas, though at this point

you're past the hard bit anyway.


Start from Pen y Pas (ruinously expensive £4.00 per day

car park) or bus from Llanberis. Alternatively you could go into Cwm

Glas and start up the North Ridge of Crib Goch, a straightforward

Grade 1 scramble. From here follow the Pyg Track (upper path) till

the Crib Goch path branches right at Bwlch Moch then follow the crest

of the rough buttress till you reach the ridge proper - obvious and

sharp. Route finding here is easy - follow the ridge and carry on

till you reach the summit of Snowdon...


From here, drop down to the saddle between Snowdon Summit and

Lliwedd before going up Lliwedd then dropping down following the

distinct path down to Llynn Llydaw and then back to Pen y Pas.

Difficultness (sic.) The Crib Goch section is only a grade

one scramble, but there are big drops and falling off could give you

a head ache of terminal proportions. Not a nice place to be in strong

winds and in winter conditions, with snow and ice around, it's a

serious graded winter route. Technically the scrambling's easy, so

it's your head that's being tested... In calm conditions, confident

scramblers can simply stroll along the crest, but to be safe, it's

usually more secure to use foot holds on the lefthand side and use

the crest of the ridge as a handrail. Don't be tempted to try and

skirt the Pinnacles to the left, the ground there is loose and

dangerous. Ditto on the final pull up the buttress before Crib y


Heightness Snowdon summit is at 3560 feet and route is

mainly above 3000 feet so it will be much cooler up top than in the

car park.

Useful Vocabulary 'Bugger it's steep', 'Ouch, me

pancreas....', 'Follow the crest, follow the crest...', 'Phew...'