Crib Goch Horseshoe, Snowdon: A challenge for experienced walkers

At BCH Camping we like to put the spotlight on walks and places of interest across the country for walking, hiking, climbing and holidaying. This time we bring you a unique challenge for experienced walkers: Crib Goch Horseshoe on Snowdon.
Considered by many to be the mother of scrambles and mountain ascents, the Crib Goch Horseshoe walk offers breath-taking views and challenging terrain that should be respected by all that venture there. Crib Goch, which translates as Red Ridge, is only suitable for experienced climbers who are prepared to be tested!
Crib Goch is a sharp ridge, if not the sharpest in the UK, which falls away on both sides. It is not advisable to undertake Crib Goch in poor weather conditions. The exposure to the elements and its narrow ridges make this the most difficult route to reach the top of Snowdon. It requires a head for heights and a huge dollop of determination.
In a nutshell, novices should look for an easier route to reach the highest peak in Wales! When customers visit our BCH Camping stores and say they either want to climb Snowdon for the first time, or do their first scramble, we strongly suggest they cut their teeth on easier climbs.
What is scrambling?
Crib Goch is known for its scrambling at various points throughout the ascent. The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) defines scrambling as using both hands and feet to ascend a hill or rock face – “the middle ground between walking and climbing”.
Scrambles are graded in order of difficulty from 1 to 3. Crib Goch is classified as grade 1, so in essence walkers should only need the same level of equipment that BCH Camping supplies to customers undertaking standard hill walking. However, those new to scrambling may feel more confident using a rope, or whatever other equipment helps to build confidence and experience.
Don’t let the low technical difficulty of Crob Goch’s grading fool you into a false sense of security however! The razor edge, exposure and potential for going off-course make it a more challenging route than others of the same grade.
The Crib Goch Horseshoe Walk in detail
Crib Goch is 11km, with a 1094m ascent, and it takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete. The Snowdon Horseshoe is a result of a glacial hollow by the name of Cwm Dyli which creates a unique starfish shape when viewed from above.
The starting point is Pen y Pass which is at the top of Llanberis Pass. This is where you can park, but in the summer it gets very busy, so you may have to park and ride from Nant Peris.
The Crib Goch route
You begin the route by taking the Pyg Track which is a well-developed path, where you can see Crib Goch ahead, which many mistake for Snowdon! After half an hour or so you will be able to look down on Llyn Llydaw Reservoir from Bwlch y Moch and across to the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd on the other side of the horseshoe.
From here, you begin your ascent of the east ridge path of Crib Goch, but not before you are confronted with the red warning sign that simply says “CAUTION: ROUTE TO CRIB GOCH”, serving as an indicator of the challenge ahead.
You will soon need to scramble to continue on the route, which will be hard work, after which it is advisable to take a rest before carrying on. You may find other walkers doing the same as this is a popular time to take a breather as they contemplate the ridge ahead of them!
The ridge is only 200m long, but it is exposed and hazardous particularly during busier times when walkers are becoming impatient with each other. This is a good reason to get out as early as possible and avoid the crowds. The drop is steepest to your right, so it is advisable to walk to the left and use the top of the ridge as a handrail.
When you are approximately 150m along, you are at the highest point of the ridge and the true summit of Crib Goch at 923 metres above sea level. At the end of the knife-edge ridge you are rewarded with the three Crib Goch Pinnacles. You can either scramble over them or take the less arduous route down to the left and go around them. Don’t think this is easy as there is still some steep scrambling down to a gully.

Once past the Pinnacles you will reach Bwlch Coch where you can have a well-deserved breather, after which you take on the less imposing Crib y Ddysgl which will feel easier than it really is, having tackled Crib Goch before it. This is still an impressive ridge so don’t underestimate it.
Crib y Ddysgl will bring you to the summit of Carnedd Ugain, the second highest point in Wales, being only 20 metres shorter than Snowdon. From here, head south west to join Llanberis Path, keeping the railway on your right. After jut half a meter you will reach the summit and the Hafod Eryri Summit Shelter.
From the summit you can see the Isle of Man and as far as Ireland on a very clear day, or look back to Crib Goch with a smug sense of achievement, but the most impressive views are those closest to you of Snowdonia. If you look south east you will see the second half of the horseshoe, that incredible ridge and the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd.
When it’s time to finally tear yourself away, follow the south westerly path from the Hafod Eryri Summit Shelter. You’ll soon find yourself starting the steep ascent at the end of the Watkin Path which is quite treacherous because it is so unstable. Follow the path towards Y Lliwedd which has two summit peaks after which you will head in a westerly direction to Lliwedd Bach.
Head north east from Lliwedd Bach for just under half a kilometre when you will reach a col from which you should head left towards Llyn Llydaw. The path takes you to the shores of Llyn Llydaw and then to the Miners Track. Here, turn right to return to the Pen-y-pass car park.
To be prepared for Crib Goch, walkers will need appropriate footwear, layered clothing, a day sack, map, refreshments and any climbing equipment they deem necessary. BCH Camping staff are all experienced walkers and happy to offer any advice needed. Just get in touch if we can be of help, and if we’ve inspired you to take Crib Goch on, make sure you are fully prepared, and share your experience with us when you return. Good luck!