Rugged Tryfan mountain in Snowdonia

A 'real' mountain: Tryfan is to be admired and respected as it marks the line between hiking and mountaineering.

Whichever route you choose to go up, you have to use your hands to reach the top. Even the easiest route from Bwlch Tryfan is classed as a grade 1- scramble and the various other routes only increase in difficulty, providing a veritable playground for climbers and mountaineers.

It is therefore only recommended for experienced and well-equipped hill-walkers who are looking for a challenge!

Bwlch Tryfan (and the final rocky scramble up to the summit)
Hikers crossing a stile in snow with Tryfan in the backdrop, Snowdonia
Bwlch Tryfan (and the final rocky scramble up to the summit)

The feral goats  who have made the mountain their home have no difficulty in leaping from rock to rock and they have the knowhow too - they tend to come down to lower ground for shelter when the rain-clouds roll in. If you venture up the boulder-strewn slopes you could do with paying heed to these animals and consider heading for the shelter of our café at Ogwen Cottage if the weather looks bad.

Be warned - the nearby Mountain Rescue Team is frequently called out to people lost or stuck in one of Tryfan’s countless gullies. Make sure you stay safe and always be prepared before setting out into the mountains.

The Everest connection

This mountain has long been revered among climbers and mountaineers and in 1907, the famous British climber and explorer George Mallory made his first two British rock climbs on Tryfan and noted that:

" [Tryfan] gave several rewarding pitches of exposed climbing with magnificent views and a long drop"
- George Mallory, 1907

Mallory attempted to climb Everest in 1924 and sadly died just 245m below the summit along with his climbing partner, ‘Sandy’ Irvine. The now famous ‘Western Cwm’ on Everest, was named by Mallory on a previous reconnaissance expedition in 1921 and this surely echoes his memories of the numerous ‘cwms’ around Tryfan.

The Everest connection was strengthened further when it was used as a training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary and his team who tried out oxygen equipment, practiced rescue and safety routines on the mountain and plotted routes and strategies for their expedition in the nearby Pen y Gwryd Hotel. Sir Edmund and Sherpa Tenzing were the first people to successfully climb Everest on 29th May, 1953.

Catch the sun setting behind the Glyderau range
Sunset on the Glyderau range from Tryfan
Catch the sun setting behind the Glyderau range

The freedom of Tryfan

From a distance Tryfan looks like a vast three ‘headed’ fin of grey rock beside Llyn Ogwen and thus its name, derived from ‘Tri-faen’ - the three rocks - can be best appreciated. On closer inspection you can see the two summit pillars called “Sion a Siân” (to the Welsh-speaking locals) or “Adam and Eve” (to most English-speaking visitors), which present daredevils with the irresistible challenge of leaping from one to the other in order to gain “the freedom of Tryfan” – a feat you should undertake carefully and entirely at your own risk!

Whichever route you choose, the summit stands at 917.51 metres, as recently measured by modern GPS equipment, which confirms it as one of the 14 highest peaks in Wales (i.e. over 3,000 ft.).


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