Ultimate Circuits: Llanberis Pass - Roadside and Wavelength Boulders

© Nick Brown - UKC

The Llanberis Pass is a place of mountainous majesty. Visiting it for the first time is a major event in any climber's life, and even for those who've been many times before it's hard not to get carried away by the sheer amount of rock, because it's everywhere. Upon first acquaintance it can be mind-blowing to come to a place where both quantity and quality abound. When faced with such riches the dilemma is: where do you start? We've tried to answer that question, for boulderers at least, here.

Writing a single destination guide to the Llanberis Pass is an impossible task and the circuit we've suggested is just one of many. Even still,  we've only outlined a handful of problems within each area, from among countless options. As always, we'd recommend taking a guidebook, keeping your eyes open, and doing whatever looks most fun.

The author on Utopia Central   © Nick Brown - UKC
The author on Utopia Central
© Nick Brown - UKC


The Roadside Boulders are - as you might expect - the most logical and accessible place to start. Due to this accessibility things can feel a little worn, with some smooth, polished rock to be found - particularly the footholds - and in order not to add to this make sure your shoes are both clean and dry. The rock above tends to be sharper, with a whole lot of edges, pockets and cracks. There's a variety of gradients to be found from slabs all the way through to roofs, and grades from easy all the way through to hard, so there's something for everyone within a short stumble of the road.

Whilst connoisseurs might say that the Roadside Boulders have the worst quality rock in the Pass, it's a great place to warm-up, and in spite of its flaws - we love it. Just try not to spend too long here, as the best is yet to come.

Xa White on Brown's Crack  © Nick Brown - UKC
Xa White on Brown's Crack
© Nick Brown - UKC

Tim Hill having too much fun on Brown's Mantel  © Nick Brown - UKC
Tim Hill having too much fun on Brown's Mantel
© Nick Brown - UKC

Once you've warmed up, it's time to head up the hillside. Walk a short distance down the road, pass [climb(29804,"Jerry's Roof") (or climb it if you're feeling keen), cross the bridge by the Climbers' Club Hut at Ynys Ettws, then get those major muscle groups moving as you make your way upwards.

Have a moment, take in the scenery, and marvel at just how bloody brilliant bouldering in North Wales is

Because of the way the problems are scattered around the hillside there's a variety of ways you can tackle the circuit. One option, which we've described here, is bottom-up, but as you'll see from the video we did something slightly different on our last visit, picking off some areas on the way up, then catching up on the ones we missed en route back down. There are no rules, so do whatever you want - providing you respect the rock (and remember, it's a marathon - not a sprint).


When viewed from afar the Utopia Boulder looms large and from up close it looms even larger. This big boulder has some absolute beauties, but be warned - it is high. As such, get your pads set up properly and your spotting team into rank and file before setting off. If you don't fancy going to the very top there's always the option of reversing from the break, downclimbing as far as you can, then jumping off, but this too can be quite intimidating! If you're looking for something a little shorter and more accessible, a couple of other boulders can be found around here which offer a more relaxed climbing experience. We've outlined these below.

Utopia Central  © Jodie Evans
Utopia Central
© Jodie Evans, Oct 2019

Summer evening bouldering   © jethro kiernan
Summer evening bouldering
© jethro kiernan, Jul 2021

Wavelength  © Fresher
© Fresher


The Wavelength Boulder is one of the best - and most beautiful - boulders in the whole of the Llanberis Pass. The stratified formations that feature on its right hand side - where its namesake Wavelength (V8+) goes - are truly exquisite. Whilst there aren't actually all that many problems on the boulder, what you get is pure gold. 

At this elevation you'll notice the rock type change, as it shifts from rhyolite to dolerite. Dolerite is a much more textured rock, with a rough and crozzly feel. It also offers a some lovely shapes, with more rounded features, so expect a few slopers!

Going for the final push on King of Drunks, what a line!  © jc_lister
Going for the final push on King of Drunks, what a line!
© jc_lister, Sep 2019

Tim Hill on the Wavelength Groove  © Nick Brown - UKC
Tim Hill on the Wavelength Groove
© Nick Brown - UKC

The Grooves

You can just about see this boulder from Wavelength if you know what you're looking for, but if you don't it's a little indistinct from a distance, as you can only see the very top poking out from above the hillside. As a result of this it's hard to get a gauge of it until you're actually stood under it, when it looks a whole lot larger - and steeper -than it did from afar. The fact it's quite undercut at its base gives it an even more intimidating feel and it can require a bit of padding out to make it feel safe, but it's worth a trip over just to do one problem, the almighty Boysen's Groove.

Boysen's Groove.  © Mark Bullock
Boysen's Groove.
© Mark Bullock, Apr 2014

The Meadow

Further up the hillside things (finally) begin to flatten out. The Meadow has a very different feel as a result of this, with a more open landscape. The fact that you can no longer see the road makes a massive differerence too, because despite being a relatively short distance away from where you started it feels like you've entered another world. This is without doubt my favourite place to stop, have a moment, take in the scenery, and marvel at just how bloody brilliant bouldering in North Wales is.

Me on Meadow Crack   © Whealiebob
Me on Meadow Crack
© Whealiebob, Apr 2019

The Dome

If you've made it this far - well done! Your reward is arguably the best rock on the entire circuit, with Lordy Lordy being as good as anything anywhere else in the country. There's more to this area than that though, with a whole load of other mid-grade classics nestled amongst the bluff. Relish every moment of being up here, because climbing doesn't get much better than this.

Xa White on Lordy, Lordy  © Nick Brown - UKC
Xa White on Lordy, Lordy
© Nick Brown - UKC

The author on Death of an Idiot  © Nick Brown - UKC
The author on Death of an Idiot
© Nick Brown - UKC

Other Info

Access - Parking in the Llanberis Pass is limited to just a few laybys and during peak season these fill up very early. As a result, you've either got to get up even earlier or use the park-and-ride bus from Nant Peris. 

Guidebook - Simon Panton's superb and sizeable North Wales Bouldering - Volume 1: Mountain Crags provides everything you need (and more) for bouldering in the Llanberis Pass. Niall Grimes' Boulder Britain is another option, although it's extremely selective in its coverage.

Circuits - If you enjoyed the Wavelength Circuit, there's similar fun to be had in neighbouring Craig Cwm Glas Bach.

Other Areas - If you fancy a change of scenery then it's worth heading over the hillside (or more conveniently, driving around it) into the Ogwen Valley, where options abound.

A busy Jerry's Roof boulder, Llanberis Pass  © Jack Geldard
A busy Jerry's Roof boulder, Llanberis Pass
© Jack Geldard, May 2009

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17 Mar

Great stuff! Hoping to get up to N Wales in a week or so and will be trying to fit in at least an afternoon of bouldering. Might hit the Pass, but I’ll likely be on my own with only two pads. Any thoughts on the best area to head to given I’ll likely be solo? (And don’t just say Cromlech Roadside ive been there loads!)

17 Mar

Pretty much anything on this circuit except maybe utopia is fine with two pads and no spotters. Failing that the barrel (at least the side with the minimum), Jerrys Wall (up behind the roof) or as per the article, take a wander round Cwm Glas Bach. So much stuff to do rather than risk stepping in the inevitable van life log under ultimate retro party…

18 Mar

Cool - haven't ever actually done anything on the Cwm Glass Bach side so that's actually a good shout.

As per Ian's comments, you'll be fine throughout the vast majority of what we featured here, barring the occasional boulder and/or problem here and there (e.g. Utopia). I'd definitely encourage making the extra effort to work your way up and arond the hillside, because that's where the best stuff is. There's so much more than what we've featured too, much of which would be fine with 1-2 pads, so if you have a day to play with go and scout around - you'll definitely not run out of stuff to do!

20 Mar

OK cool. I've been meaning to King of Drunks for ages, but worried from the vid that it might be a bit dodgy on my own.

However the current major obstacle to bouldering in the Pass this coming weekend would appear to be the wet stuff falling out of the sky...

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