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The south side of the Ogwen Valley is like nowhere else in Wales. The ancient violence of a volcanic past is written all over the mountainsides. These are the north faces of the Glyderau: magnificent mountains of idiosyncratic character. Of course, it is the geological-happy-accident of Tryfan that slaps you around the chops the first time you arrive into this unique arena. It is a peak so arresting in appearance that it is undoubtedly the first objective for pilgrims on their inaugural visit. And rightly so.


But look closer at the cwms that hang over this valley and you will find a plethora of hidden ridges, buttresses and gullies. Beneath Glyder Fawr, Cwm Idwal is a Mecca for climbers and scramblers. There are so many high quality options of varying grades here that climb up these cathedrals of angular, aggressive rock. The Idwal Buttress is a grade two option that can be combined with a number of other classic routes up the mountainside.


The prize for your efforts? The gothic moonscape of Glyder Fawr is one of the more interesting summit plateaus, and in the snow appeared like something out of the White Witch's wildest dreams. The Glyderau contain five of Wales’ 3000 foot peaks, of which Glyder Fawr is the highest. To the east lie Glyder Fach and Tryfan and to the west lie two contrasting mountains in Y Garn and Elidir Fawr. Y Garn is like a distant cousin of Scotland’s Ben Lui. Its large north east facing cwm, Cwm Clyd, is embraced by two fine ridges that stretch to and link at its summit. This scooped out hollow and its two arms have earned it the moniker the Armchair Mountain.


Having earned the summit, the view back to Pen Yr Ole Wen, Tryfan and Glyder Fawr is spectacular. As is the view ahead, to Elidir Fawr, the most westerly of the Glyderau. Horrifically scarred on its western side by extensive quarrying, this is still a proud and fine mountain. Its summit is a long, rocky ridge and a fine vantage point for Snowdonia’s mightiest three mountain ranges; to the north is the vast expanse of the Carneddau, directly east are the rest of the Glyderau and to the south is the majesty of the Snowdon massif. Not a bad spot for sunset.

Idwal and the Glyderau

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