An Excellent City Escape for a Scrambling Weekend: Bristly Ridge

An Excellent City Escape for a Scrambling Weekend: Bristly Ridge

I was due to take some people to Snowdonia for a weekend of scrambling with the main objective being Bristly Ridge; grade 1, 3-star classic scramble. 

Looking at Bristly Ridge and the South face of Tryfan. The great pinnacle gap can be seen on the ridgeline.

Sadly, they bailed last minute but the forecast was great, and I was free for the weekend. I made a few calls and found a friend who was up for a weekend out, so I packed my bags and we got on the road on Friday evening.

There was severe wind on Saturday but with a better forecast for Sunday we would save the fun. We opted for less exposed routes and enjoyed some easy scrambles and a handful of more obscure summits thrown in. 

When we got back to the campsite we got chatting to a solo camper.  The evening was full of discussion about routes we had done, aspirations and a too much whiskey.  The next morning was accompanied with an unpleasant hangover so we set off for Bristly Ridge. 

There are many ways to approach Bristly Ridge, the most iconic and enjoyable being a scramble over Tryfan.  Seeing as we were feeling a little bit worse for wear, we chose to approach from a layby near Llyn Ogwen, the RED marker on the OS map above (sadly my watch ran out of battery so I don’t have a GPX file available).  There is a path that ascends to Llyn Bochlwyd and then to the col at the base of the south face of Tryfan and Glyder Fach, the BLUE marker. 

From the col looking up towards Bristly Ridge, Tryfan is behind me
Looking back down at the South face of Tryfan and the stone wall which is followed to the start of the route

From the base of Tryfan we walked on the left side of the stone wall up until its end.  After crossing over the stile and walking for approximately 10 m you are at the normal start of the Bristly Ridge up Sinister Gully.

Stood at the start, its go time

There is an alternative gully further to the right which is looser and more difficult. Not a recommended alternative for the inexperienced. 

Scrambling up Sinister gully is quite steep but easy, there are big ledges and plenty of positive hand holds.  However, it could be unpleasant in bad weather or after a lot of rainfall. 

Looking down from the early stages of Sinister Gully

A good point to note for the entire route, if the rock is worn and there are obvious marks from crampons and walking poles, you are on the right route.  If at any point it is feeling difficult and there are no obvious signs of human traffic, you are off route. 

Ascending Sinister Gully

We climbed quickly together following the line of weakness, safely passing the other parties on the slightly steeper left wall until we reached the top of the gully.   

Looking down at the group we passed ascending Sinister Gully

Upon exiting the gully, we continued up a several sections of easy slabs along the ridge. We smoothly ascended the ridge, carefully picking our way through the various blocks and slabs following the line of weakness.  As mentioned earlier, follow the obvious signs of passage.  Going off route can put you in much more serious and committing positions. 

The ascent continued to the first small pinnacle.  This involved a small down climb before climbing out the other side.  The pinnacle can be bypassed to the left to avoid the more difficult down climb. 

Down climbing the first notch

From this small notch, we continued to the Great Pinnacle.  The Great Pinnacle is the crux of the route!!  It is easy to overcome but it should be handled with care. 

We descended the notch on the left-hand side.  The right side is a sheer wall.  Once we had descended into the Great Pinnacle, we scrambled up the obvious line out on the right side.  This was the most enjoyable section of climbing on the route.  Plenty of big positive holds and a few steep moves to climb out of the notch. 

Looking up from at the far wall of the great pinnacle gap
Nearing the end of the ridge

With a big smile on my face we followed the ridge to the end where we could see the spiky summit of Glyder Fach a short distance in front. 

Feeling very pleased with myself

After a quick walk & a summit bagged, we continued towards Y Gribin which was our descent path, the green marker on the map above.

We stumbled across a tribe of goats descending Y Gribin

Bristly Ridge is an excellent outing.  It is quite committing in places and at the top of the grade.  With a careful eye, route finding shouldn’t pose any difficulties, but it would best to be confident and competent before taking on this scramble.   

From the slow start, plodding up the paths to Bristly Ridge; feeling nauseous, to topping out of the Ridge; full of adrenaline and vigour.  What an adventure!  Spending time in the mountains meeting people and climbing is the best escape from city life.  Trips have so many variables and I always come away with great stories and a sense of accomplishment.  I am happy to have climbed Bristly Ridge and from the col to the top in just under 30 minutes.  Moving confidently, flowing up a ridge is one of life’s finest pleasures. 

Hangover or not, never waste good weather. 

Smashed the hangover!
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