Sample Route from Scrambles in Snowdonia: Notch Arête 2***

A Sample Route from Scrambles in Snowdonia, Steve Ashton's classic guidebook that has been fully updated by Rachel Crolla and Carl McKeating.

A joyful bound up a distinctive wide slabby ramp.

LocationTryfan, Ogwen (SH 664 596)
Grade2***
Altitude and aspect780m, west
Route lengthSustained but free-flowing and always seems to be over too quickly. Normally a component of longer outings. Height gain approximately 150m.
ConditionsQuick-drying on solid slabby rock that takes no drainage. More precarious in the wet. Perfect on a sunny afternoon when it is bathed in light and feels closer to Yosemite than North Wales.

When seen from the Gribin Ridge, Y Garn or Pen yr Ole Wen, the Notch Arête that bounds the right-hand side of Notch Rocks is an unmistakable feature high up on Tryfan’s West Face. It is not actually an arête at all, but rather a wide slabby ramp leading to the summit of Notch Rocks, set at the perfect amenable angle for sustained but never strenuous grade 2 scrambling. The route consistently delights and every move seems to offer the perfect hold. Its only drawback is that it will almost certainly leave you wanting more… you could always descend and do it again.

North Wales or Yosemite? Superb conditions on Notch Arête
North Wales or Yosemite? Superb conditions on Notch Arête

Approach

A large tower can be seen at the bottom of Notch Rocks on their West Face side; Notch Arête begins on a platform above the tower. The platform is gained by traversing rightwards beneath the tower then moving up boulders and scree. A number of approaches are possible:

  • Notch Arête is best approached by one of the lower routes on the West Face (Routes 24–26 and 28). See the combination sections at the end of those routes.
  • The route can be accessed directly from the valley floor by following the V Buttress (Route 25) approach but bypassing that route by means of the grade 1- path to its left – thereafter refer to the initial approach description above.
  • A descent can be made from the large cairn below Notch Rocks on the North Ridge. Follow the couloir down until able to move round beneath the tower described above (see Route 24 descents).
  • From the Notch in the North Ridge – a point reached from the East Face by Nor’ Nor’ Gully or Nor’ Nor’ Groove (Routes 12 and 13) – a 150m path of fairly steep scree runs down parallel to Notch Arête and leads to the start of the route, which is on the right looking out. Any continuation of this descent is hazardous unless already familiar with the topography and orientation of the West Face.

Ascent

Getting onto the slabby face proves the trickiest part of the route. At a point where the scree in the gully bed becomes smaller, walk onto a nearly-level slanting platform above the tower. A stubborn buttress bars access to the slabby ramp of Notch Arête. On the right is a tempting wide corner crack – tougher than it looks (3S). The middle of the buttress is far too hard, so move to the left side of the platform and identify a very clear 3m chimney just wide enough to fit in. (This could be fought up directly if you wish to shed skin and test your range of vocabulary.) By coming in from slightly left of the chimney and moving onto its left-bounding edge, a clean white slanting platform above can be accessed (a little technical, but not exposed). Standing – foreshortened – before you is the beginning of a 150m-long stretch of pure gold; head up its middle and enjoy.

Descent by this route

Possible with prior knowledge, but a considerably more daunting prospect.

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Rachel Crolla

Rachel Crolla

Rachel Crolla is an outdoors all-rounder who loves hiking, biking, scrambling and climbing. Rachel is an outdoors writer and photographer who is also trained as a journalist and teacher. She has hiked and climbed across the UK, Europe and the USA. In 2007 Rachel became the first woman to reach the summit of every country in Europe, and co-wrote the Cicerone guide book Europe's High Points soon afterwards. She is passionate about enthusing the next generation of hikers and cyclists with a love of the outdoors.

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Carl McKeating

Carl McKeating

Carl McKeating is from Yorkshire. He is the co-author with Rachel Crolla of the books, Europe's High Points and Walking in the Auvergne published by Cicerone. A rock climbing and mountaineering enthusiast, in addition to ascending all of Europe's national high points, in 2010 he completed a long-standing ambition to climb all the routes in Ken Wilson's Classic Rock which he followed with a three-month climbing and mountaineering tour of America. A qualified English teacher, in 2014 Carl started work on a doctorate about Mont Blanc in British Culture.

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Steve Ashton

Steve Ashton

Steve lived in Snowdonia for 20 years, during which he wrote several climbing and walking books to the region. The best known of these is the highly influential and now classic Scrambles in Snowdonia, which was largely responsible for reviving interest in this esoteric sport.

View Articles and Books by Steve Ashton

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