S is for Snowdon

For someone who’s blog mainly concerns the mountains of Snowdonia you’d think I would have written about Snowdon a while ago, but I guess that just goes to show how much there is in and around Snowdonia.

It was almost a year ago when my flat mate Karla voiced her interest in climbing Snowdon and I was more than happy to fulfill this request, as it’d be a nice way to end the term year. We started out on a sunny Wednesday and despite it being the middle of the working week the little car park near Pen y Pass was almost completely full, there was literally one car park space left, which we promptly occupied by us, though it cost £10 to park there. Also along for the trip were two of Karla’s friends, Owen and Niall, of the four of us only me and Niall had climbed Snowdon before, so we acted as the guides along our route which was to encompass the entire Snowdon Horseshoe. While it was glorious day, without a single cloud in the sky, it was also really, really hot, which meant were downing a lot of water after only climbing just a few feet.

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The packed car park at Pen Y Pass
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Looking down the Llanberis valley
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The Pyg Track

Starting from the car park, we heading up the Pyg Track, which is prehaps the busiest and quickest route to the summit. Despite the heat, the going was fairly easy, with only a bit of scrambling towards the end of the section. After a little while we reached Bwlch y Moch, which granted us a beautiful view over the Snowdon massif.

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Lokking back to Pen y Pass
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Looking over Llyn Llydaw and Y Liwedd

After a quick break we left the Pyg Track and began to head upwards to Crib Goch, honestly this was prehaps the hardest part of the walk, containing both a steep ascent and only a ill-defined scree path.In addition I could feel my feet rubbing inside my boots and cursed the fact that I hadn’t worn thicker socks. We had to climb a good 1000 feet before reaching the beginning of Crib Goch, but what a beginning it is.

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Leaving the Pyg Track
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Crib Goch

In my opinion the only way to climb Snowdon is via Crib Goch, the knife edge arete provides some of the finest scrambling in the British Isles, though you do need a bit of a head for heights. Crib Goch is a special place for me as it’s really what inspired within me a love for mountains and mountain landscapes. On a clear day like this one, a walk along Crib Goch is pretty unforgettable.

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Me in 2015
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Me in 2007
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Looking over the back of the Glyderau mountains
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Looking off to Moel Siabod
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The arete of Y Liwedd

But oh boy is it long, we were walking for a good two hours and a half, climbing up and down and up again. If you ever climb Snowdon bring plenty of energy food, cause your probably going to need it, especially following the Crib Goch route as it takes forever. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, standing far taller than all other nieghbouring peaks in Snowdonia and the Crib Goch route adds an additional two summits to the climb, making it an exceptionally long path. Another thing I enjoy about Crib Goch is that it is the highest and quietest path along Snowdon as when your walking the busiest mountain in the British Isles it can be really hard to find a spot to just sit and enjoy the sounds of nature, but Crib Goch is one such place. I also enjoyed looking down at the all the queues of tiny people milling about on the lower paths, completely oblivious to the four scramblers looking down upon them.

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Scrambling along Crib Goch
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Staring at our target, the pointed summit of Snowdon
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Snowdon and Garnedd Ugain

It was already close to three by the time we reached the edge of Crib Goch and the summit  of Garnedd Ugain the second highest mountain in Wales. Interestingly Garnedd Ugain translates to ‘Cairn of the Twenty‘, an apparent reference to the Roman legion that was once based at the nearby Roman fort of Segontium (which I mentioned briefly in my last post).

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Looking back towards Crib Goch
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Garnedd Ugain, 3949ft
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Y Liwedd
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Looking over Lanberis and the slate quarry of Dinorwic
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The Moel Elilo Hills
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Ryan posing

After we’d finished lunch and posing, we decided to head on towards the summit, my feet were seriously rubbing now and walking was pretty uncomfortable but I was determined to reach the top, fortunately I had my walking sticks which meant I could afford to not put all my weight on my bad foot. Though the final walk from Ugain to Snowdon is pretty simple and laid out with a nice row of stone steps, the climb from Crib Goch had taken its toll on us and we slowly shuffled our way up the mountain.

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The summit of Snowdon, 3560ft

Now if your looking for a nice empty summit, then you won’t find it on Snowdon, that place is as busy as all hell, there are hundreds of people crammed on top of this summit. In 1896 the Snowdon Mountain Railway was built and since then it has been bringing up tourists in their droves, to such an extent that they expanded facilities on the summit to include a fully operational cafe. You have to wait in a bit of a queue to even put your hand on the summit cairn, and then your only allowed to admire the view for a little bit before you have to move aside for other people. You’ll be hard pressed to get a good photo of the surrounding landscape without a dozen people stepping in front of it. The overcrowding problem has definitely gotten worse since I last conquered Snowdon. Unfortunately the crowds bring another problem, rubbish is prevalent on the summit, and this has attracted ferocious seagulls, who endlessly prowl among the crowds, snapping at any thing that has the possibility of being food, be it actual food, rubbish, your equipment, or even yourself.

Snowdon may be the highest mountain in Wales, but while cramped on the summit, I never knew there was a mountain which could feel so small.

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Looking over the Rhyd Ddu valley
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Y Lliwedd and Southern Snowdonia

Furthermore, I was beginning to develop blisters on my feet and I knew I wasn’t going to able to make the rest of the Snowdon Horseshoe, as we’d originally planned. So while my friends descended down Snowdon, towards Y Lliwedd, I turned around and started slowly down the steps of the Pyg Track. I was bitterly disappointed, its especially hard when the problem is one that could have been so easily  prevented e.g. bringing an extra pair of socks or wearing thicker socks in the first place. Perhaps the hardest thing to learn about mountain climbing is when its best to just turn around and walk back, but its also the most essential thing to know.

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The lonely walk down

I slowly made my way down the Pyg Track, and then down on to the Miner’s Track, which ran along the shores of Llyn Glaslyn and Llyn Liwedd. The route down had been killer on my feet and I was so thankful just to be able to bath them in the cool waters of Llyn Glaslyn. The towering monolith of Snowdon rose up in front of me, I tried to see if I could make out my friends on Y Lliwedd, but I could not see them.

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The pyramid of Snowdon, obscured by the sun
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Llyn Glaslyn

After the a whiles rest, I began the final long walk back to Pen Y Pass. By this time the sun was dipping down behind Snowdon and the rivers of people had vanished to all but a small trickle. Alone and weary, I trudged along the vast shores of Llyn Llydaw, enjoying the shimmering evening light that played on the waters. When I at last reached the car park, my friends were no where to be seen. A quick phone call confirmed that they were still up in the mountains and wouldn’t be down for hours, they told me to take the car and head back to Bangor while they caught the bus. So, dutifully, I obliged and drove back, still tired and alone.

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The edge of Llyn Liydaw
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Llyn Llydaw
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One last look at Snowdon

If you enjoyed this tale feel free to write in the comments, or leave like and thanks for reading.

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9 Comments

  1. Snowdon’s always an enjoyable walk – though as you say there are so many people there nowadays! The views from Crib Goch look stunning – not a route I’ve attempted yet but perhaps one day in the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You got some great photos and until you described the crowds at the top I was quite tempted. Having said that, I still enjoyed my recent walk up Pen y Fan in spite of the crowds, so maybe I’ll do it someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hoping to climb Crib Goch by its North Ridge at the weekend, weather permitting. I climbed Snowdon in the summer last year (first time up for my son) and was staggered and appalled by how busy it was. Luckily the Snowdon massif is huge and there are plenty of quiet corners. Great photo btw 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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