Wales: Scaling Snowdon

We’d done Fuji together, and that’s 3000m! Snowdon was more than doable, a mere amble at 1000m – right Rob?

Never before, in any of adult life, have a better understood how fucking awesome Easter is.

It’s like Christmas for adults; devoid of any expectation and compulsory visits; the promise of good weather and friends – and two 4-day weeks!

The Adventure Begins

Setting off from Richmond, rather than home, saved an hour on our 4.5hr trip, and with four in the car, we were saving a killing on travel over the train – other than muggings here driving 3 non-drivers…

Arriving in Wales, we were soon(ish) hitched up in our AirBnB, waiting for the other two to arrived.

Turns out we hadn’t booked a house, but just the bedrooms! Still, with a fry up breakfast thrown in, and just a lil begging to be allowed the use the kitchen to make dinners, I think we had done pretty nicely for ourselves.

The big climb lay the day ahead of us.

Mounting the Mountain

We had been sent out packing list a couple weeks in advance – a gift.

It included all the essentials, down to spare laces – the curse – we needed huge sacks to carry everything!

They guys had decided which route to take to the summit – gift! Naturally we wouldn’t be taking the path, waaaaay to easy. Nope, we would be first scaling Crib Goch, en route to Snowdon’s summit – curse.

With it being Easter weekend, the area was packed with cars, filling the car parks and lining the sides of any roads they could. But the gang knew a car park a kilometre or two from the trailhead – gift.

Of course, we wouldn’t walk the road to the trailhead, waaaaay to easy. Nope we would climb over the car park wall, down the hill, across and river and back up the ravine to trailhead – curse.

I was already out of breath, sweaty and had redressed 3 times – from wearing all my gear, plus hat and gloves, down to my underlayer and cursing wearing my leggings under my shorts – at least I hadn’t put on the fleeced waterproof trousers!

We gathered our thoughts at the trailhead station, left behind a lil brown part of ourselves and we were off!

As soon as the girls got back from the toilet.

Scaling Snowdon

The busy trail consisted of large, flattish rocks that made up the footpath, the barrage of people forcing us to keep pace as we climbed higher and higher along the side of the valley. From the trailhead head station the road snaked out along the valley floor, the steep ‘v’s of hills jostling with each other to be better seen and in the distance, the massive lake we had driven past an hour before hinted at its own existence with a flickering golden luminance in the corner of the scene – how was it so small now?

Photo by Rob Fudge May

After maybe an hour or so, we reached the point that marked your hikers from your climbers; the division of the Pyg path – the relatively simple, consistently inclined path that snaked its way up the mountain – and the Crib Goch route, a fun trail up a 923m ‘knife-edge’ ridge, considered a scramble in summer and a climb in winter, on which numerous people have died from exposure – we of course took that one!

Which definitely paid off!

What could have only ended in death had I been alone, the experience of the other guys –  their ability to spot routes, remember directions based on landmarks and motivation to keep moving forwards – made it almost easy!

Well, that and the fact that going back down the rocks I had already seen was a lot less alluring that pushing forward, upwards into the unknown, even if Snowdon itself was a horseshoe of a mountain path away and hidden in the distance under a veil of mist and cloud.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

We had gotten super lucky with weather! At the lower elevation only a couple of layers were needed, sleeves rolled up after the physical exertion of climbing with both feet and hands up near vertical rock faces.

The lay of the rock made for plentiful hand and footholds, especially in the dry weather, and often formed natural (thought frequently very tall) steps. I dread to imagine the scramble in the snow or wet, or even going down (like one couple and their dog, in trainers!) but the only real challenge for most of it was scouting out the best path, especially nearer the top, and whilst scrambling along the ridge.

Climbing the ridge was the most exhilarating and nerve-wrecking part. Whilst scrambling, you had holds above for your arms, sure footing for your feet, and should one part slip, you still had multiple points of contact.

Upon reaching the ridge, you became a gangly mountain goat.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

The angle along the ridge was so acute, literally just an upside down ‘V’, with kniggly, angle surfaces to step along. When the ridge was flat-ish, you had nom more than a 30cm width on which to balance, as the wind pelts you as it rushes over the mountain and you’re left standing your full height about the top of the mountain, which only steep, rocky slope either side of you.

Needless to say, much of the summit was spent hunched over on all fours, like a Quasimodo-Golem love child, and there was even one segment where I watched a woman crawl across on her hands and knees!

This being the point of ‘vertigo meltdown’, we saw a fair number of slow movers, dropping down the slope a tad to overtake them and head on way to the summit of Snowdon.

Photo by Rob Fudge May

Though between Crib Goch and Snowdon, there is another, all peak, as the cloud wrapped in around us, this felt rather like a non-adventure, shielded from the view, the plummet around us a few mere metres and a wide path left us with no troubles, and we marched hand in hand, the 6 of us, down the other side of Garnedd Ugain, pass the top off the Pyg path and onto the summit post, celebrating with Summit Booze!

The Return Home

Largely uneventful, we followed the Pyg path back down, our knees taking the brunt of our downwards descent, with the fittest and most mounty-climby of the group running a head to bring the car round from the car park, to spare the legs of the rest of us.

Despite the late hour, we managed to doodle back along the valley road, and were indoctrinated into the cult of ‘Pete’s Eats’ with a mountain of cream, marshmallows and hot chocolate.

We had climbed Snowdon and survived.

Where to next? Why, Ben Nevis of course!

By J.Molkenthin

James Molkenthin is an enthusiastic and energetic British Designer, with a background in Graphics, Website and Product Design.