Welcome to our scrambling digital feature
I know what it's like when you are passionate about something. You want to read all about it, watch whatever videos you can find, magazine articles, top tips, look at images of routes you can do. If you are itching to get out and need something to keep you sane then this feature is for you. I will add to it over time as I get the good camera out on more routes so hopefully you will enjoy dipping in and out of it. I hope you enjoy and to see you out on the ridges and gullies of Snowdonia.
Rob Johnson - Expeditionguide.com
PS (Thats Huw and I on the left, on holiday in the Alps - mountaineering)
Based in Snowdonia
We are based in the mountains of Snowdonia and our courses meet in Capel Curig each morning at the Siabod Cafe. We chat over a brew, check out the weather forecast and make a plan that meets the aspirations and needs of everyone on the course before heading out and enjoying a full day in the mountains. We have the greatest concentration of scrambling routes of anywhere in the UK within a short drive of the cafe.
All of our courses are run by Rob Johnson and Huw Gilbert. We hold the highest instructional qualifications in the UK for all aspects of climbing and mountaineering in summer and winter conditions. We each have a lifetime of experience in the mountains around the world.
Instantly recognisable from the road Tryfan is an iconic mountain and its North Ridge offers almost 3000 ft of scrambling from the car to the summit. It is one of our favourite grade 1 routes with brilliant scrambling getting steadily more interesting as you gain height. On our intro to scrambling courses we will make the most of the varied terrain to coach your movement skills and ability to manage risk. On our guided adventures (such as the Snowdonia Mountaineering Week) we will often combine it with Bristly Ridge which is a little bit harder again.
The Llech Ddu Spur feels pretty remote by North Wales standards and its pretty unusual to see another soul all day. I’m not sure why I don’t go there more often as its a wonderful route in a fantastic position and a very pleasant walk in. The ridge gets better and better as you get higher with most of the steep sections escapable to one side or the other if it all gets a bit much.
Bristly Ridge is a natural continuation having ascended Tryfan via the North Ridge and then descended via the South Ridge. It is a touch harder in the grade and starts with the ominously named Sinister Gully. Fear not though, the name simply refers to the Latin for "left" whilst the gully to its right is Dexter Gully. Bristly Ridge can be bagged in its own right if walking up from the Ogwen Valley. Either way it gives some great exposed scrambling, some meaty gulley action and some really nice pinnacles to weave around nearer the top.
The Gribin Ridge, Glyder Fawr
This is a brilliant grade 1 scramble for introducing people to this type of ground because it offers escape routes. You can stick to the crest and get the whole grade 1 experience or drop off the side for a respite. It also offers some great coaching ground on the approach so that we can look at movement skills and give some coaching. We will often combine it with Seniors Ridge in descent and both routes work well whether they are wet or dry.
Most of the grade 1 ridges in Snowdonia are good fun in the wet or the dry. The main weather influence that we are concerned with is the wind. If wind speeds are greater than about 30mph on the summits then we plan our day around avoiding being exposed to a cross wind on a narrow ridge as we don't want to get blown off it. When its windy we tend to head for the gullies and have several routes to choose from on Tryfan, in Cwm Idwal and above the Llanberis Pass.
Crib Goch is one of the mountains in Snowdonia that sits over 3000 feet high and is a summit in its own right. It is perhaps most famous for its knife edge stretch of ridge that you see in the photograph above. It is probably my favourite route of its grade anywhere in the world. It is rare we visit it on our Intro to Scrambling courses but we often get the chance on our five day courses. We need the right weather for it or it quickly becomes an epic!
I am a member of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and was Chairman of the team for three years. This is one of our hotspots so I know it well in all weathers and can speak form experience that it is best done in the daylight, when the sun is shining and when the wind is light. If we are guiding it we make sure its a positive experience. These days the parking at Pen Y Pass is always difficult and so we tend to ascend via the North Ridge and then descend via the Cwm Glas Spur.
We often combine the lower section of North West Face Route with the upper section of the Idwal Staircase to progress onto slightly harder ground. (The latter route gets a 2+ in the more recent guidebooks)
The Cneifion Arete is a wonderful grade 3 scramble that sits high above Llyn Idwal and is a natural continuation from the routes that make their way up the Idwal Slabs. The crux of the route is found in the first two pitches and after that it becomes a joyous scramble up big holds with wonderful exposure. Simply ace!
The Clogwyn Y Person Arete is a brilliant ridge scramble that starts in the beautiful Cwm Glas and leads up to Crib Goch and Crib Y Ddysgl. It has a couple of cruxes and for those not used to traditional "thrutching" the last move of the harder scrambling can often be the most fun! It goes as well in the wet as it does in the dry but I am always mindful of the windspeed as whichever way you exit you will be on a narrow grade 1 ridge, exposed to the wind.
The Main Cliff of Glyder Fach offers a wealth of options for the mountaineer. The walk in to the base of the cliff will make sure that you are sufficiently warm by the time the scrambling starts and then Dolmen Ridge is my favourite pick of the routes. It can be started by at least three variations but all options lead you into Dolmen Buttress which is climbed by a wonderful open book corner onto the crest of the ridge. The scramble has a bit of everything including a magnificent setting looking down the Nant Francon Valley and right across Anglesey.
Trail Magazine for routes, inspiration and advice
I have been a contributor to Trail Magazine since 2006 and every month I answer readers questions in the "ask the expert" section. I have introduced many of their writers to scrambling over the years and the magazine continues to be a great source of inspiration with route ideas and new places to visit.
“ROB IS THE DEFINITION OF THE CALM PROFESSIONAL IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS ANYTHING BUT. HE IS A WALKING ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE MOUNTAINS, AND THE TECHNIQUES USED TO MASTER THEM FOR THE FURTHERING OF YOUR OWN LIFE STORY. AND HE INSPIRES TRUST BY BEING THE SAFE PAIR OF HANDS FROM WHICH YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOURS STEADY IN THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND DRAMATIC PLACES IN THE WORLD – NOT LEAST NORTH WALES!”
SIMON INGRAM, EDITOR – TRAIL MAGAZINE