CMD Arête vs Crib Goch – Which is Tougher?

After crossing both Crib Goch to Snowdon and CMD Arête to Ben Nevis, how do the two compare and which is the hardest? Here's my take.


Crib Goch vs CMD Arête – Which is harder?

Crib Goch.

There’s the very short answer. But of course there’s far more to it than a simple answer. Having crossed both of these ridges in very, very different hiking conditions, it is of course not a straight comparison between the two. And CMD arête was tougher than Crib Goch in certain ways. So let me elaborate a little on both of these exceptional UK scrambling routes.

Crib Goch vs CMD Arête in Summary

I think it’s impossible to compare the two ridges as a like for like unless you have the same conditions on both. So I do want to elaborate a little on the conditions I had for both of these and a bit more about the context.

 Crib GochCMD Arête 
Date of crossingJul-22Jun-22
Who with?CousinFriend
Weather conditions?Amazing! Clear, mild temperatures and dryHellish. Heavy rain and wind. No visibility.
Overall hike distance15.5km24km
Overall hike difficultyModerateDifficult
Overall hike time6.5 hours11 hours

I think it’s important to elaborate on conditions because terrible conditions can very, very easily turn something that’s a grade one scramble on paper into something much more complex of an undertaking.

Add to that how your mood can be affected by the weather and by generally how much hiking you’ve done and have still to do, and it’s important to look at everything together.

Crib Goch and CMD Difficulty Compared

I still think, despite the fact that I had impeccable conditions for my Crib Goch crossing, that it was the harder ridge to cross technically. And here’s why:

 Crib GochCMD Arete
ExposureVery, very exposed. One side a sheer dropVery exposed
Complexity of ScramblingMore complex scrambling with the addition of pinnacles at the end.Simple scrambling
How NarrowVery, very narrowAlmost the whole way there’s more than enough space to walk relatively comfortably
Distance Across RidgeA relatively short ridgeA much longer ridge
Accessing RidgePgy track first and then a scramble up to Crib Goch summit. A boggy ascent from the North Face path
Escape OptionsNone. It’s dangerous to attempt to leave the ridge until you’ve crossedA path runs much of the way just off the summit though at points it stops and starts, requiring you to stay to the crest

For me, the CMD arête route was a much, much tougher overall hike brought about by very boggy underfoot conditions, a LOT of ascent over the day, awful weather and no visibility.

It was, for me, the toughest hiking day I think I’ve ever experienced.

But I think Crib Goch is a technically more challenging (and enjoyable) ridge crossing.

Which is better?

In my opinion, Crib Goch is better for the exhilarating nature of the exposure and scramble to access the ridge. But I’d suggest trying both and forming your own opinion!

My Favourite Crib Goch Photo 

This photo gives some idea as to the amazing conditions, as the cloud hits the ridge and just hangs there.

crib goch cloud


My Favourite CMD Arête Photo

In this one, my friend tackles the crest of CMD arête in very poor conditions with next to no visibility.


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