Y Garn East Ridge Scramble

Y Garn East Ridge is a grade 2 scramble route in Snowdonia. The ridge is easy to pick out from Llyn Idwal and the approach is easy. From a distance, spot the cwm below Y Garn. This is Cwm Clyd. The left and right side of this cwm are made up of Y Garns main two ridges. The ridge on the right (as you’re looking up at it from below) has a simple path to the top and makes an easy descent route. The ridge on the left is the Y Garn East Ridge.

Y Garn East Ridge route
Y Garn East Ridge route (only a rough guideline)

The highlight of the route is at the top, with the scramble up Castell y Geifr. Scrambling up to that point is intermittent and can mostly be avoided. To do this though would be a waste. If you were a man on a mission, it would be quite possible to do the whole route fairly quickly. Personally, I think it’s best to take your time and really make the most of the route. Similar to Tryfan, this is a route to explore, not rush.

Much of the lower part of the ridge is heather and grass, with occasional small crags offering interest along the way. It’s these that must be climbed in order to maximise enjoyment. There are some nice little lines if you look out for them, of varying difficulty. Unfortunately I failed in getting any photos of these sections as I became fixated with capturing the view down to Llyn Idwal instead. So here’s a nice picture of that!

Y Garn East Ridge and Llyn Idwal
Looking back down the ridge towards Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen

Eventually the ridge flattens out and, at this point, the route veers to the left a little towards the obvious large wall that leads to the rocky ridge above. This wall marks the beginning of the routes highlight, and also the point where I started recording with the headcam. The output of this is below:

I ascended this initial wall around on its left-hand side and scrambled with ease up onto the ridge. The view along the ridge and to the intimidating looking Castell y Geifr ahead was one of my favourite moments of the day. With a little mist, it would have looked perfect. From initial viewing, I wondered how the hell I was supposed to climb up that. I made my way along the narrow ridge up to the base of the wall. On closer inspection, it seemed as though the best way up was to edge around to the right and ascend from a narrow ledge. The exposure is great here but, despite my fear of heights (or more specifically, big vertical drops), I didn’t feel in any danger – not compared to my disco leg shenanigans whilst doing Pinnacle Ridge earlier that day. I guess its the difference between a ledge and a small foothold. I started to ascend towards the top, having to make two additional exposed moves onto small ledges along the way. The climbing isn’t difficult and there are plenty of good holds, but the exposure ensures its a solid grade 2. A fall from the side of Castell y Geifr would not be good!

Crossing the ridge to Castell y Geifr
Crossing the ridge to Castell y Geifr
One of the exposed ledges on Y Garn Castell y Geifr
One of the exposed ledges

After reaching the top, I followed the edge of Cwm Clyd around the top, passing the summit of Y Garn on the way. The views are outstanding from the summit – it’s possibly the best viewpoint on the Glyder range. After passing the summit, I took the easy path back down the mountains north-east ridge – a path that brings you back to Llyn Idwal.

The view from Y Garn - the east ridge visible
Looking across at the east ridge from Y Garn
Heading down the Y Garn north-east ridge
Heading along the north-east ridge path

I have to be honest, I had a great time on Y Garns East Ridge. The scrambling was much better than I was expecting it to be, and there was also more of it than I was expecting. And best of all, I had the whole ridge to myself to explore. It’s certainly one that I’ll be doing again in the future.

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