In the Cwm Idwal area there are a series of important winter venues, including, Clogwyn y Geifr, Clogwyn Du and Y Garn.
Clogwyn y Geifr
In a typical winter season Clogwyn y Geifr, or The Kitchen as it is affectionately known, is ribboned with a range of spectacular ice features. These ice falls provide some of the most celebrated winter routes in North Wales, such as the spectacular and much sort after Devil’s Appendix VI 6.
Other popular routes include The Idwal Stream II/III 3, The Ramp III 3, The Screen IV 4, South Gully IV 5, The Devil’s Kitchen V 5. Sections of the cliff are home to rare plants – for full details check out the North Wales White Guide.
Up to the left on the flanks of Glyder Fawr more mixed routes and snow gully lines can be found.
In a typical winter season the routes will be in condition at various times during the December – March period. The cliff sits at the back of Cwm Idwal at a relatively low altitude (700m); nonetheless ice formation happens quickly as soon as the temperatures start to drop.
From the Ogwen Cottage car park, follow the path that runs up left from the bottom of the slate cutting. After a few hundred metres it kinks back right towards Llyn Idwal. The crag can be reached by circumnavigating the lake on either side, but it is normal to take the left hand option, walking past the base of the Idwal Slabs and following the gently rising path past Idwal Stream.
Clogwyn Du is one of the most important Welsh winter venues. Perched high on the lip of Cwm Cneifion it has a splendid sense of isolation. It also offers some of the most reliable winter conditions in Snowdonia.
Although a relatively small crag, its many and varied routes pack a real punch. There is a good mix of traditional snow gullies, ice falls and an increasing number of excellent mixed routes, including some of the hardest in Wales. The mixed routes tend to be steep, but with reasonable protection. Sections of the cliff are home to rare plants – for full details check out the North Wales White Guide.
Elsewhere in the cwm the easier angled ice on the Tower slab area is a popular and reliable option. In very good conditions Cneifion Arete also gives a fine winter route.
The high altitude and northerly aspect ensure rapid riming and ice build up, although the latter is often hard to predict with any certainty on Clogwyn Du. The adjacent Tower Slabs ice seems to form very readily. Most of the mixed routes rely heavily on frozen turf placements. Please do not attempt these routes if conditions are marginal as it will almost certainly lead to irreversible damage.
The crag is best reached from the Ogwen Cottage car park, although it is possible to cut across from any of the car parks further along the A5 by Llyn Ogwen.
An accessible winter climbing venue with a number of popular classics such as Banana Gully II and East Ridge II. Y Garn sits back at the head of the impressive glacial trough of Nant Ffrancon. Below the summit there is a steep area of broken buttresses and gully lines dropping down into the north west facing Cwm Clyd. The routes are in the grade I to III range; some of the trickier buttress routes give a taste of modern mixed climbing.
Foel Goch, situated 1.5km to the north provides further good winter climbing opportunities. Here at the top of Cwm-coch you will find around ten routes up to grade IV, but mostly in the grade II to III range.
There are also a few winter routes in Cwm Cywion, which sits just to the north of Y Garn.
The ridge and buttress routes come into condition very quickly and give a good early season option, although they should be avoided if strong winds are present. The main gully lines quickly fill with snow but are best avoided until some consolidation and freeze-thaw action has allowed the snow to firm up and stabilise. Avalanches do occur here so care is essential when assessing conditions. Cornice collapse is another potential danger.
The routes can be reached by walking up from the Ogwen Cottage car park.