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Tryfan 2010.jpg
Range: Snowdonia
Summit: 3,010 feet SH664593
53°6’51"N, 3°59’51"W

Tryfan is a mountain in Snowdonia, in Caernarfonshire. It forms part of the Glyderau group, and is one of the most recognisable peaks in Britain, having a classic pointed shape with rugged crags. At 3,010 feet above sea level it is the fifteenth-highest mountain in Caernarfonshire.

The name "Tryfan" means "three peaks".[1]

Between the mid-1980s and June 2010, its accepted height was 3,002 feet. However it was resurveyed using accurate GPS measurements and found to be eight feet higher.[2] Until the 1980s, Ordnance Survey maps gave its height as 3,010 feet, and so the new measurement confirms that the earlier survey was correct.

Routes of ascent

There are many routes of ascent, ranging from easy ridge scrambling, to long mountaineering rock climbs on the east face. Tryfan is the only mountain in Great Britain outside the Cuillin of Skye, to require the use of hands on the ascent. However, there are a number of peaks (notably Helm Crag in Westmorland and The Cobbler in Argyllshire) that involve a scramble to reach the highest point.

Jumping from Adam to Eve at the summit of Tryfan

Tryfan is most frequently climbed by way of its north ridge, which starts close to the A5 road, about a mile east of Idwal Cottage (a youth hostel) or Ogwen Cottage (an outdoor pursuits centre). From here a route leads directly up the ridge, a "Grade 1 scramble" by the easiest line. The difficulty can be increased considerably if the most direct line is followed throughout; particularly in the upper sections of the ridge. About a third of the way up there is a distinctive rock known as "The Cannon" which points upwards at 45 degrees and is visible from the valley.

Tryfan may also be climbed by the south ridge, also a "Grade 1 scramble", which links the mountain (by way of Bristly Ridge) to Glyder Fach. The route begins at Bwlch Tryfan, the col between Tryfan and Bristly Ridge. The col is reached by a path leading up from Idwal Cottage to the west, passing through the corrie of Cwm Bochlwyd. This corrie contains Llyn Bochlwyd, sometimes called "Australia Lake" or "Lake Australia" [3] as its shape resembles the outline of Australia.

Tryfan seen from Ogwen Cottage on the A5 road

At the summit of Tryfan are the twin monoliths of Adam and Eve, a pair of rocks some ten feet high and separated by four feet. The rocks are visible from the Ogwen valley, from where they resemble two human figures.

It is traditional for those climbing Tryfan to tackle the spectacular and risky "step" between the two rocks; in doing so one is said to gain the "Freedom of Tryfan". The exposure on one side is quite great and those without a head for heights are advised not to attempt the step. Adam is not easily scaled being high and smooth. There is a foothold on Eve which allows the climber to scramble to the top.

Another pair of prominent pillar-like boulders is visible on the skyline midway through the approach to the summit by way of the South ridge. As these can be mistaken for Adam and Eve from a distance, they have become known as Cain and Abel, continuing the biblical theme.

Milestone Buttress

Milestone Buttress at the base of Tryfan is a popular location for climbing. The Buttress is about ten minutes' walk from roadside lay-bys. The most popular route is known as the direct route: there are often queues of people waiting to climb it. It is 250 feet long, and graded Very Difficult. The first known climb by this route was by G Barlow and H Priestly-Smith in 1910.

There is also a popular "Grade 3" scramble incorporating the Milestone Buttress. This route is commonly used as an alternative approach to the North Ridge, as is the nearby slabby wedge of Tryfan Bach, on the other side of the mountain.

Milestone Buttress, eastern side - direct route highlighted
Feral goats of Tryfan and neighbouring parts

Outside links


  1. Terry Batt (1994). Place-names in the 3000ft Mountains of Wales. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. ISBN 9780863812828. 
  2. "Survey adds 8ft to Tryfan mountain's height". BBC News. June 24, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  3. Joe Brown website


  • Williams, Paul (1990). Rock climbing in Snowdonia. Constable. ISBN 0-09-468410-3. 
  • Ashton, Steve (1992). Scrambles in Snowdonia. Cicerone. ISBN 1-85284-088-9.