Snowdon from Pen-y-pass


This is one of the most popular routes up the highest mountain in Wales. Starting from Pen-y-pass at the top of the Llanberis Path 359m above sea level takes away the burden of a long ascent and saves you a lot of time and effort. This route can be done in two ways - you can either ascend the mountain the easy way via the Pyg Track all the way to the top, or for those who prefer a challenge there is Crib Goch, a far more exciting route with hands on scrambling and knife edge ridge walking. These routes are often used by walkers attempting the Three Peaks and Welsh 3000's Challenges so they can be busy at peak times. The busy Pen-y-pass car park can get full quickly so you may have to park in Nant Peris and take advantage of the excellent Park & Ride bus service. In bad weather and winter conditions the Crib Goch route should only be done by those who have experience of ridge walking and scrambling in such conditions and in the right gear. Snowdon is a serious mountain with changeable weather conditions at any time of the year. You should always be carrying the right gear and know how to use it, particularly your map and compass. If anyone ever tells you not to climb Snowdon because it is too busy then simply ignore them. It is a magnificent mountain massif and this walk takes you into the heart of its most impressive glacial cwm sculptured by the last ice age.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts at the Pen-y-pass car park situated at the top of the Llanberis Pass on the A4086 road at grid reference SH647557. You can park here but with increasing prices and difficulty finding a space unless you get there early a better option may be to park at the larger Park and Ride car park lower down in Nant Paris at grid reference SH607582. From Nant Paris there is a regular Park and Ride bus service that will take you up to Pen-y-pass.
  2. From the Pen-y-pass car park head west along the sign posted Pyg track. The path ascends a fairly easy gradient for around a kilometre heading in the direction of the pointy Crib Goch now in view. The views to the right are down through the Llanberis Pass to Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn.
  3. The Pyg Track is thought to get its name from the Pen y Gwryd Hotel at Pen-y-pass, a hotel steeped in mountaineering history; it was the base for Hillary and Tenzing while training for their ascent of Mount Everest.
  4. After a kilometre the path heads up through a much steeper and rocky section before bending left and eventually reaching the wooden stile at Bwlch y Moch.
  5. From Bwlch y Moch on a clear day you get your first glimpse down to Llyn Llydaw with the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd towering above on the other side of the Horseshoe. The Snowdon Horseshoe is a result of a glacial hollow by the name of Cwm Dyli, one of many glacial hollows around Snowdon, the ridges of which give the massif its unique starfish shape when viewed from above.
  6. At Bwlch y Moch you have a choice: if you fancy a challenge, have a good head for heights, good fitness level, and the weather is fine then Crib Goch is your preferred route. If you do not like exposed ridges, don't feel fit or the weather is bad then continuing on the Pyg Track would be the sensible option.
  7. The Pyg Track route is fairly straightforward. Simply head over the wooden stile at Bwlch y Moch and continue on the obvious path in to Cwm Dyli. You will have the beautiful Llyn Llydaw on your left and then as the path gets higher, Llyn Glaslyn below a stunning Snowdon. The Miners Track will appear from the left and join the Pyg Track and then a well laid zigzag section leads up to the Finger Stone on Bwlch Glas. That final zigzag section can be treacherous in icy conditions so spikes or crampons are vital in such conditions. Turn back if you don't have them.
  8. If however you prefer the far more exciting route of Crib Goch then at Bwlch y Moch do not cross the wooden stile and instead turn right and start your ascent of the east ridge path of Crib Goch. There is a warning sign here intended for those who are not aware of the challenging route ahead of them.
  9. The path starts fairly easy and zigzags its way up on to Crib Goch's eastern side. After a while the path takes a turn to the right and leads to a chimney where hands-on scrambling is required to reach the rock above.
  10. The rock above here is one of my favourite ascents. It provides a fun and exciting mountain adventure playground. There is now a few hundred metres of steep and knobbly rock up which you have to scramble to reach the narrowing ridge crest before eventually topping out on the airy eastern summit of Crib Goch.
  11. The eastern summit is not the highest point on Crib Goch but it is the one place that many walkers take a breather before tackling the knife edge ridge that now leads off to the south west. The views on a good day here along the route ahead are awesome.
  12. This incredible knife edge ridge provides an exhilarating experience you will never forget. If you get jelly legs like me then you can step down slightly to the left and use the top of the ridge as a hand rail. Please be patient and considerate of people who are less experienced than you may be. If you are confident in your own ability, I can think of worse place to be queuing!
  13. After around a hundred and fifty metres along the knife edge ridge you will realise you are at the highest point of the ridge and the true summit of Crib Goch at 923 metres above sea level. Actually that is a lie: you probably will just cross over it with such immense concentration that you won't even notice!
  14. Another a hundred metres further you will come to the end of the knife edge ridge and reach The Pinnacles. There are three rock pinnacles here and you can either be extremely brave and scramble over them or take the easier route down to the left slightly and around them. This may sound easy but does also still involve some steep hands on scrambling down to a gully where you bypass the first two pinnacles.
  15. Once you pass the first two pinnacles and cross the gully climb up the other side to round the final pinnacle and eventually reach the flat open col of Bwlch Coch, looking north over the steep cliffs here you get a great view in to the desolate Cwm Uchaf and the tiny Llyn Glas. The views across to Y Lliwedd's twin peaks and Snowdon's pointed summit are also captivating.
  16. Continue in the same direction west along the path and on to the eastern ridge of Garnedd Ugain. There are some fairly hands on scrambles along this ridge too though none as exposed as Crib Goch. Make sure you stick to the top of the ridge and don't start heading to the left. As you get closer to Garnedd Ugain you may hear people ascending a steep path to your right from the Clogwyn y Person scrambling route.
  17. Pass the huge buttress of rock to your right and continue your ascent towards Garnedd Ugain. After a while the path starts to get much easier and you find yourself on top of a wide grassy plateau with a white trig pillar marking the highest point on Garnedd Ugain.
  18. From Garnedd Ugain's summit trig pillar head south west for around three hundred and fifty metres to join up with the busy Llanberis Path. Head left and after just twenty metres you will find yourself at the Finger Stone on Bwlch Glas which marks the top of the Pyg Track and Miners Track.
  19. Continue south ascending the main path with the railway on your right. After just half a kilometre you will reach the summit. The modern Hafod Eryri Summit Shelter is of course the first thing that you will see. The actual summit point is reached by a few steps up to the wide stone cairn behind the building. The summit cairn has a fantastic brass plaque depicting the surrounding mountains.
  20. No matter your opinion of this busy mountain there is no denying it has some incredible views. From the summit on a really clear day you can see as far as the Isle of Man and even Ireland! The most impressive views are those close by to the rest of Snowdonia and Snowdon itself with its many ridges and glacial cwms.
  21. To descend the mountain trace your footsteps back down to the Finger Stone at Bwlch Glas. To do this from the summit, head north to north west down the busy path keeping the railway on your left at all times. After half a kilometre you will reach the obvious standing stone the Finger Stone.
  22. From the Finger Stone descend east to north east on to the zigzags of the Pyg Track. Follow the well laid zigzags taking care in icy conditions as this is one of the most common places for mountain rescue call outs. Ice spikes are fairly cheap these days, a highly recommended gear purchase for winter months, and essential in places like this.
  23. Half a kilometre after the zigzags the path splits in two. Here, do not continue on the Pyg Track, instead turn right on to the Miners Track and descend south east towards the blue waters of Glaslyn. Glaslyn is actually Welsh for Blue Lake. The disused copper mines you reach at its shores give a clue to the reason for its blue waters.
  24. Once at the shores of Glaslyn head round the shoreline to its far eastern side and then descend east on the path passing the old mines on the left and waterfalls of Afon Glaslyn on the right.
  25. The Miners Track will eventually reach the northern shore of the larger Llyn Llydaw. There are old mine buildings here too from where you can look up and see fellow walkers crossing the knife edge Crib Goch ridge above.
  26. Follow the Miners Track in a north east direction along the shore line of Llyn Llydaw until you reach the causeway that crosses the lake. Head across the causeway to reach the other side. An easy two kilometre stroll along the track will take you back to the Pen-y-pass car park at the start of the walk.
  27. Pen-y-pass has toilet facilities and a great cafe plus there is of course always the town of Llanberis on your way home where there are many places to eat and drink including the famous Pete's Eats.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL17 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 115 Map Click to buy Harvey Snowdonia Mountain Map Click to buy Pathfinder Snowdonia Walk Guides

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.