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Climbing the Overlapping Ridge Route on Tryfan – also known as the First Pinnacle Rib (FPR) – was a wish come true for me. My friend and I had attempted to reach Tryfan’s summit via the South Ridge earlier in the year, but we had to turn back when she injured her knee just 120 metres below the summit.
As for Tryfan’s North Ridge, a Grade 1 scramble, I never quite felt confident to tackle it, especially with kids in tow. So when our climbing guide suggested that we climb the Overlapping Ridge Route on Tryfan’s East Face, I was eager to do it!
We had climbed the Amphitheatre Buttress: A Classic Climb in North Wales the previous day and were very excited to climb yet another classic in Snowdonia.
Similar to our other climbing articles, this isn’t a technical guide about the climb; instead, it’s a picture guide intended to inspire you to embark on this adventure yourself, with or without kids in tow. We climbed Tryfan’s Overlapping Ridge Route (FPR) in August 2022 when my children were 9 and 12 years old.
Once again, we enlisted the services of an amazing climbing guide – Bob Thomas at Contour Outdoor. I highly recommend Bob’s services for any climbing or mountaineering activities in the UK or beyond. Once you’ve experienced the best, it’s hard to settle for anything less.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. About Tryfan
2. About the Overlapping Ridge Route
3. Stats about the Route
4. Getting to the Start of the Climb
5. The Walk-In
6. The Climb
7. The Walk-Out
8. Frequently Asked Questions
9. Campsites in North Wales
10. Final Words
1. About Tryfan
Tryfan is a renowned peak that forms a part of the Glyderau group, situated in the picturesque Ogwen Valley of North Wales. Standing at a height of 917 metres, it ranks as the fifteenth-highest mountain in Wales.
With its steep and rugged rock formations, Tryfan poses a challenge even to the most skilled climbers. Its various routes to the summit, including the North Ridge and South Ridge, are popular among scramblers. Despite the difficulties, it remains a sought-after destination for hikers and climbers alike, drawn by its stunning vistas, dramatic peaks, and unique character.
2. About the Overlapping Ridge Route
The Overlapping Ridge Route (also known as the First Pinnacle Rib or FPR), a multi-pitch Trad climb on Tryfan, spans 175 metres and is graded V Diff. The approach takes about 1 – 1.5 hours via the Heather Terrace on Tryfan’s East Face.
3. Stats about the Overlapping Ridge Route
Starting Point: Car Park at Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite, Capel Curig, Betws-y-Coed, LL24 0EU | Open in Google Maps
Distance: 5 km
Elevation Gain: 722 metres
Climbing Time: 4.5 hours (including lunch)
Elapsed Time: 8.5-9 hours
Grade: V Diff (Crux: 4b)
Height: 175 m
Ordnance Survey Map: OS Explorer OL17 Snowdon & Conwy Valley
Overlapping Ridge Route – Route Map & GPX File: View Route Map & Download GPX File
Overlapping Ridge Route – Elevation Profile
4. GETTING TO THE START OF THE CLIMB
From the car park at the Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite, head south towards the farm building and pass through a gate. Continue south, passing Tryfan Bach on your right. Finally, head west to reach the start of Tryfan’s Heather Terrace.
5. THE WALK-IN
When approaching Tryfan via the A5 from Capel Curig, you can make out the distinctive Heather Terrace on its East Face. It looks like a clean, straight path. However, once you’re on the Heather Terrace, you’ll discover that it’s anything but straight-forward; instead, it resembles a mace with twists and turns before you reach the start of the climb.
Look back and admire the views to the north. Can you spot the A5 and the campsite in the image below?
Heading up the Heather Terrace, which has a mixed terrain of rocks and shrubs.
View from the Heather Terrace towards the south.
The approach took us 1.5 hours and provided a good warm-up for what was to come, especially the hike up the Heather Terrace, which was more strenuous than I had anticipated.
After reaching the base of the climb, we all geared up, adjusting our layers to suit the conditions and swapping our hiking boots for climbing shoes.
6. The Climb
Upon reaching the base of the climb, we noticed the letters FPR scratched into the rock, indicating the start of the First Pinnacle Rib climb.
After our guide, Bob, led the way and climbed pitch one, it was time for the kids to follow, and then me. The children were exhilarated as they tackled the climb, their faces beaming with excitement and determination.
As I took in the spectacular scenery around me while ascending, I felt grateful for the opportunity to experience such a thrilling adventure. We were fortunate to have almost perfect conditions, with clear skies and minimal wind – we were lucky indeed!
The following images showcase the terrain, providing a sense of the climb’s difficulty. Similar to the previous day when we tackled the Amphitheatre Buttress, this climb was perfectly pitched to be both exhilarating and challenging.
Perched on a ledge, the kids waited patiently for their turn to climb the next pitch.
I’m always amazed by the level of maturity and cooperation displayed by children in situations where safety is of utmost importance. Learning life lessons on the side of a mountain – priceless!
The panoramic views to the south are truly breathtaking, with the majestic Glyder Fach visible to the right, leading to Gylder Fawr on the left.
After four hours, we stopped for lunch at what must be the best picnic spot ever!
After our lunch break, we took on the Yellow Slab, which is considered the crux of the climb, referring to the most challenging section of the route. This section was a polished slab and definitely lived up to its reputation as the crux.
My muscle-ache from hiking up Ben Nevis only four days prior and rock-climbing the Amphitheatre Buttress the previous day was noticeable when I attempted the Yellow Slab. However, through sheer determination, I made it up on my third attempt, while the kids effortlessly whizzed up.
If you find the Yellow Slab too challenging, there is an alternative route available to the right.
Check out the video below showing the kids climbing the Yellow Slab.
After a long and challenging climb, we finally reached the summit of Tryfan and were rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The summit of Tryfan is famous for its rough terrain and unique rock formations, which include two large stones named Adam and Eve. The challenge for hikers is to make the 1.2 metre jump from Adam to Eve without falling or slipping; requiring balance, fearlessness, and a hint of recklessness. Did we take the leap? Of course, we didn’t.
7. The Walk-Out
After spending some time taking in the views from the summit of Tryfan, rearranging our gear, and changing back into our hiking boots, we began our descent. We followed the South Ridge until we reached Bwlch Tryfan, the saddle between Tryfan and Glyder Fach, then crossed over the stile and descended on the footpath on the east side of Tryfan.
The stunning views of Llyn Bochlwyd, Llyn Idwal, and Y Garn are to the west. If you look closely, you can just about make out the upper section of the Devil’s Kitchen as well.
View towards Glyder Fach, with Glyder Fawr in the distance.
Descending the South Ridge entails navigating rocky terrain that is dotted with rocks and boulders, demanding great caution.
The view from Tryfan’s South Ridge towards Glyder Fach is breathtaking. It’s no surprise that hiking the three mountains of Tryfan, Glyder Fach, and Glyder Fawr is a popular circular hike. My friend and I attempted this route two months prior, but unfortunately, she injured her knee on Tryfan, and we had to abandon our mission.
After crossing over the stile at Bwlch Tryfan, we joined the footpath on the east side of Tryfan and followed it back to the carpark at the campsite.
Looking back towards Tryfan and the route we climbed up.
After about nine hours since we set off in the morning, we finally arrived back at the carpark of the Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite. What an epic day it was!
8. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE CLIMBING GRADE OF THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
The Overlapping Ridge Route (or First Pinnacle Rib – FPR) is graded V Diff.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CLIMB THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
It took us approximately 4.5 hours to climb the Overlapping Ridge Route, which included a half-hour lunch break. This time accounts for all four climbers in our party – our guide, my two children, and myself. A smaller group would likely complete the climb in less time. In total, our climbing day lasted 8.5 – 9 hours, including the walk-in and walk-out from the car park at the Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite.
WHAT’S THE ELEVATION GAIN FOR THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
The total elevation gain for the Overlapping Ridge Route climb including the walk-in & walk-out is approximately 722 metres.
HOW HIGH IS THE CLIMB ON THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
The Overlapping Ridge Route is a multi-pitch Trad climb spanning 175 metres.
WHERE IS THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE LOCATED?
The Overlapping Ridge Route is located on Tryfan’s East Face in the Ogwen Valley in the Glyderau mountains in Eryri National Park (previously known as Snowdonia National Park) in North Wales.
WHERE TO PARK FOR THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
Car Park at Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite, Capel Curig, Betws-y-Coed, LL24 0EU | Open in Google Maps
WEATHER FOR THE OVERLAPPING RIDGE ROUTE?
As with any activity in the mountains, always check the weather forecast.
The Mountain Weather Forecast by the MetOffice website or app is very useful.
9. Campsites in North Wales
We stayed at the Dolgam Campsite, which is only a 10-minute drive to the car park at the Gwern Gof Uchaf campsite. It’s a simple campsite with very clean facilities that has a relaxed feel to it. They also offer Bed & Breakfast if camping isn’t for you.
Alternatively, you could stay at the Gwern Gof Uchaf Campsite itself, but I cannot comment on that site as I have not stayed there before.
10. FINAL WORDS
After climbing the Amphitheatre Buttress the previous day and Cadair Idris via the Cyfrwy Arete the previous year, our climb on the Overlapping Ridge Route was our third-ever multi-pitch adventure.
Once again, our guide Bob at Contour Outdoor delivered an unforgettable day by setting the difficulty at just the right level for us. It’s one of the reasons why, once you’ve found the best, it would be difficult to settle for anything less.
As I emphasised in our Climbing Cadair Idris via the Cyfwry Arete: A Multi-Pitch Adventure guide, adventuring solo with kids does not mean doing everything alone.
Rather, it means taking the initiative to plan and organize an activity without relying on someone else to join you, whether it’s a spouse, partner, or friend.
So, go ahead and plan that climbing, canyoning, or rafting trip and book a guide! I only recommend guides/providers that we have used ourselves and have been satisfied with.
Check out our Top 20 Family Outdoor Activities in Wales article for various activities and recommendations for guides & providers.
Putting kids in situations where patience and cooperation are required for everyone’s safety teaches them invaluable life skills about responsibility. Such skills cannot be taught in a classroom. I absolutely love seeing my kids grow adventurously and observing how much they mature during our climbing trips. Their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses come out in the raw, and by the end of the climb, these traits have changed. They grow, they learn, and they mature.
- Amphitheatre Buttress: A Classic Climb in North Wales
- Climbing Cadair Idris via the Cyfrwy Arete: A Multi-Pitch Adventure
- Top 20 Family Outdoor Activities in Wales
- Top 12 Family Outdoor Activities in Snowdonia
- Snowdon Watkin Path with Kids: The Ultimate Picture Guide
- Devil’s Kitchen Snowdonia with Kids: The Complete Picture Guide
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