Yes, the path is fairly clear - you have a 1:25 map and compass?
As I recall (and it was a good few years back when I did it!) it's only a couple of miles up, with the same route down. There probably is a longer, less steep, route round the 'rim' but you'd only want to take that for variety rather than need. I think you cross an old rail track a few times so it is an interesting enough walk so that when you get to the steeper climb bit you can cop out and call it a walk as far as you've gone.
Google Earth is your friend here.
Only you can guess your lad's ability based on what he has done before. Youngsters constantly surprise me with what they can do when motivated. Should be a good day's walk.
The normal route from Beddgelert does start quite steep up to a gate in the intake wall, then it eases off a bit before steepening again through some very mild little scrambly bits and working it's way through the upper levels of crag bands, where there are some unusual "cannonball rocks" to be seen.
For navigation ease I'd probably recommend returning the same way. The route back over Moel Yr Ogof and Moel Lefn is very nice and can incluse some old quarries but does leave you with the forest tracks to content with (ok with an up-to-date 1:25k map and a bit of concentration).
The potential descent to the SE starts well, but if you try to get down to Aberglaslyn the path disappears for about a km into an area of trackless bog, which is a shame as the return to Beddgelert through the Aberglaslyn Pass would round off the day really well. There is another track shown on the map coming northwards across the hillside back to Beddgelert but I've not followed it yet so can't say what it's like on the ground.
Just returned having managed the climb OK. Your right, it is a bit of a slog, as there is quite a bit of height gain in a short distance. Found the little scrambling bits on the scree high up and little awkward, and the nav was not so easy either, as there seemed to be little paths all over the place, and some easier than others. Got there in the end though, and the views are just stunning. The fab weather was a bonus
I must admit to stopping for one of those nice ice creams a couple of times, only for the boy though The wind was a real help to us, as it would have been a little too hot otherwise.
We were camping just up the road from elephant mountain, and had a lovely view of it from our tent.
Apart from not getting any sleep in the tent, it was a perfect weekend
Did you think Beddgelert was unusually quiet considering the weather was so good?
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