North Ridge of Tryfan

Nearherewayaway Wales 1

“Almost instantaneously the grass ended and the boulders started; we got up on the first one and from that point on it was just a matter of jumping from boulder to boulder, gradually climbing.” –Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums.

As the car crosses the Welsh border, I unfold my map. Lake District. Damn, wrong map. This one is going to be useless if I want to walk up Tryfan, a little 900m peak in North Wales. Luckily today is a clear day with good visibility, so a few screenshots from an online OS map and a quick googling of the route should do. UKC Scrambles has a decent route description, but as soon as I get on the ridge, I notice that there are a lot of faint paths all taking slightly different routes to the top.

As long as the way is upwards, the direction is right. Of course, some parts of the ridge are steeper and rocks rather loose. The official route on the North Ridge is a Grade 1 scramble, so, although requiring movement on all fours, it shouldn’t be very difficult. However, I end up climbing much more than is necessary because I voluntarily lose the path time after time to follow interesting routes over the rocks.

I think about Jack Kerouac’s description of his climb up to Matterhorn Peak in The Dharma Bums. The main character Ray Smith suddenly realises that it is “impossible to fall off mountains”. Well, he is wrong. You can fall off from a mountain. It has happened many a time. If I’m not sure whether the route goes this way or that way, I won’t climb up something I can’t downclimb if necessary.

The weather is clear and autumnal. Wind pushes low clouds over the surrounding peaks, but it brings no rain. After 1 hour and 40 minutes, I reach the top where a group of young lads is having a break. Soon their guide ushers them to put their helmets back on, and they start slowly descending. I watch them move over the rocks and let the wind blow my hair. I realise that it has been a long time since I walked up a hill just for the sake of walking up a hill. I used to do a lot of hillwalking when I lived in Stirling, but recently I have been going to hills only to get to a boulder or a crag where I can climb. The walking part has been an unavoidable extra. Pity, because it is really nice.

There are three clear paths down on the south-west side. The one on the left drops to the saddle between Tryfan and Glyder Fach, and loops around to Llyn Bochlwyd – aka lake Australia. The most direct route goes straight down from the top over the rocky slope ending up to the right of the lake. I choose the middle one, which starts on the scree but escapes to the wet and muddy grassy slopes.

The walk down takes about 30 minutes. After a little lunch break behind a lovely big rock with a perfect seat sheltered from the wind, I walk the boring bit of the walk to the info centre where I will be picked up by my friends who left me at the foot of Tryfan when they headed to do some too-hard-for-me-to-even-try-bouldering. If you do not have a taxi service in your use, it is easy to get back to the lay-by car parks if you stay on the right-hand side of the river Nant Bochlwyd and follow that path down.


From above Llyn Bochlwyd looks like Australia. Helps with navigation

This walk made me very happy for some reason. Quick, easy, and not too busy. And some fun scrambling!

 ”…I followed his every step but then I learned it was better for me to just spontaneously pick my own boulders and make a ragged dance of my own” –Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums.

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