Can Tryfan be seen from Snowdon?

There are sometimes question that begs of the mountain climber in Snowdonia. One of these questions would be, ‘can Snowdon be seen from Tryfan’ – or vice versa. The Glyders, at five miles distance, are clearly visible from the summit of Snowdon so Tryfan must be there somewhere! Its actually very difficult to spot and no doubt depends very crucially on the amount of light, its direction, weather and atmospheric conditions towards the Glyders, and upon the Gribin Ridge itself.

Searching through dozens of my photographs, none appeared to produce a single sighting of Tryfan from the summit of Snowdon. A better zoom lens however produced a couple of pictures taken in February 2011. These just about managed to show the barely discernible rocks belonging to the Snowdonian climber’s favourite peak. A much more powerful lens used in March 2011 combined with excellent weather conditions produced clear pictures of Tryfan’s summit.

The panorama view creator, Chris Jesty, whose excellent productions made a day up the mountains so much more interesting, makes it clear that the iconic Ogwen peak can be seen from Snowdon, and this is shown in detail below:

Section of Jesty’s Snowdon panorama (1980) showing the 2 bumps belonging to Tryfan’s summit.

Summer afternoon view to Glyders from Snowdon. Bristly Ridge can just be seen, but no Tryfan.

Castle of the Winds centre, Bristly Ridge on left, Glyder Fach at right & Tryfan far left.

Zoom showing Adam and Eve and Tryfan’s two summits from Snowdon

As the above pictures show, the Bristly Ridge that links Glyder Fach to Tryfan can be quite easily seen. Compared to this, since its further away, looking for Tryfan is like searching for a needle in a haystack! The visible parts of Tryfan are quite small, so it is no surprise many do not know the peak can be seen from Snowdon. Atmospheric conditions may either make Tryfan’s summits invisible – the amount of ‘shimmer’ along the length of the Gribin Ridge will often be a deciding factor especially in the summer months.

Now the vice versa bit! I dont ever remember seeing Snowdon from Tryfan, actually I did not think it was possible due to the bulk of Glyder Fach being in the way. It is perhaps a great irony that once one has descended the Bristly Ridge from Glyder Fach towards Tryfan, the excellent views of the Snowdon massif disappear behind Glyder Fach completely. For this reason many of us probably do not even think about looking for Snowdon when we are stationed upon the lofty environs of Adam and Eve.

Searching the internet just one picture produced the neccessary view that would have possibly shown the summit of Snowdon. Unfortunately the light is too bright across the top of the Gribin Ridge to see clearly beyond. The only picture I can find is a very old one from one of the books of the celebrated mountaineer, W. A Poucher. His book, Snowdon Holiday (published 1943) discusses the issue of whether Snowdon can be seen from Tryfan. Poucher alludes that most people who have broached upon the subject believe it is impossible to see the topmost of the Welsh summits.

Poucher’s wartime picture showing the very tip of Snowdon’s summit. Glyder Fawr is on the right. The ‘UFO’ is actually a mark placed by Poucher on his photograph to show where Snowdon’s summit is because even in this direction, its peak is not at all easy to see.

Updated May 2011

© 2011 Gwychder y Wyddfa/Snowdon Splendour/Snowdon Wales

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