Take a look at the picture below. It is the first view I had of Tryfan. Aged twenty, I had arrived at night in a van full of students taking a weekend off college to go walking. After a night in a climbing hut that groaned as the corrugated casing contracted against the wooden walls, I awoke and went outdoors for the view. The memory stays with me today, a magnificent mountain looming down on me, crystal clear in the air cleared of dust by the previous night's rain.
Tryfan is the eastern part of a horseshoe shaped corrie, Cwm Idwal. [What the Scots call a Corrie, the Welsh call a Cwm.] Look carefully and you can see a line up the mountain side. This is known as the Heather Terrace and it forms the easiest way up the mountain, a steadily ascending gentle slope that eventually reaches a Col [Bwlch Tryfan] between Tryfan and Glyder Fach, a name that means Little Glyder to compare it to its larger sibling, Glyder Fawr [Big Glyder.]
From this ridge double back on an easy scramble to the summit. However, at the top are two pillars,Adam and Eve, on one side of which there is frightening exposure and a serious drop. Adventurous lads often jump from one to the other. What lads do to impress girls! I gave that endeavour a miss.
The toughest route up Tryfan is the North Ridge which you can see see above the Heather Terrace which can involve scrambling, and there are on the ridge dangerous spots. Another route takes you up from Cwm Idwal. This is part of the Miners' Track. Welsh slate miners from the villages of Nant Francon used to work away at the slate mines near Llanberis, and at weekends they would walk home, crossing the mountain at the Col [pass, Bwlch in Welsh] between Tryfan and Glyder Fach and descending then to their homes for their much needed rest.
The view from the summit is glorious. You can see the whole range of North Wales, with Snowdon to the south and the mighty Carneddau to the North, and to the East the broad moorlands that stretch away towards England. You look down on two little jewels: the waters of Cwm Idwal and higher up the smaller lake of Llyn Bochlwyd.
From the Ridge you can sometimes see the Royal Air Force practising, using the peculiar Geography of the valley below. The Ogwen Valley, by which Tryfan and its fellows stand, turns at right angles into the valley of Nant Francon, with the river that empties from Llyn Ogwen tumbling over a series of small falls at the bend. The RAF practise sharp turns around this bend and you can often see the jets like tiny red flies below you as you stand on the rocky vantage point.
Years ago on a train I met an old woman who had grown up in the shadow of Tryfan, who told me that one of her childhood jobs on the hill farm where she was raised was to ascend Tryfan to the moorland besides it and collect whinberries, which we in England call bilberries. I got then a peek into an earlier Wales, life as it was for centuries before supermarkets. She looked a very healthy ninety plus, with a good complexion and a happy character. The outdoor life had surely been good for her.