Last weekend I decided I wanted to climb a mountain. Most people I knew were busy and had other other plans so I decided to go alone. I picked Mount Snowden because I had only climbed it once previously and on that occasion there was zero visibility at the top. I’m so glad I did as I had perfect visibility!
The weather forecast for Saturday was pretty poor while on Sunday it was expected to be clear with good visibility until about 3pm. Sunday it was then! I’d gone out bowling on Saturday night with friends, and one person questioned why I was going to climb Snowdon alone. Well. It was either go alone or not go. And I really wanted to go.
I could not have picked a more perfect day! When I arrived the air was crisp and the sky was clear with little whiskers of clouds. The carpark was full so I parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up to get to the start of the walk which took about 20 minutes along a narrow windy road. Lots of cyclists passed me on their way up – I didn’t envy them on that incline one little bit!
I took the miners route up which is relatively flat for the first half, graduating weaving up the mountain sides past lakes and flowing creeks. The mountain ranges surrounding were still covered in snow in places and the clear lake waters were icy – some of the smaller ones were completely iced over.
The second half of the track however, is a completely different story. Once you reach the top lake there is a steep climb or scramble up a rocky ‘path’. To be honest, most of the path is non existent and it becomes a make your own adventure. The snow added another level of complexity to the challenge as it was a bit slippery and at steep in lots of places. There were deep holes pocketed in the snow where someone had obviously fallen in or stepped in a spot. I knew that I definitely wouldn’t be going down that same route by any long shot. Some people I met on the way up were going down as they had given up with the snow. I however pressed on as I was determined to make it to the top!
Once I’d reached the top of that steep section and joined up with the Pyg path (a more gentle path) I stopped to have a break and refuel with energy as I figured the final ascent would be a bit of a challenge. This last section is a steep zigzag track that cuts across the mountain up towards the summit. It wouldn’t normally be so much of a challenge, but the entire path was covered in snow… It’s hard to depict in images just how steep the slope it is, but if you fell down you’d do some damage. Put it that way.
While I was sitting on a rock enjoying the sunshine I made friends with a group I had previously passed by further down the path. After walking together and chatting for a while, it turned out that they lived just down the road from me in Liverpool! Meant to be. They welcomed me into their group and together we climbed up the slippery icy slopes until we reached the summit.
Honestly, the weatherman was right on the money that day! The forecast had said it would be clear till 3pm on the summit. My new friends and I reached the summit at about 2pm with perfect visibility around us. We took pictures then set down in a less windy space to have our lunch. Barely 30 minutes after reaching the top the clouds began to roll in. It literally took all of 3 minutes for it to go from clear sky to white fog nothingness. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Anyone still climbing must have been gutted to watch the visibility slip away before their eyes, wishing they had started off earlier in the day.
Getting down the mountain was fun and much easier than going up. It was a mixture of sliding/skidding/jumping and slipping our way down to the bottom through the slushy snow making good banter with the other walkers we met on the way.
I wore my Garmin watch to get an idea of how far we walked. With over 23,000 steps, it turns out we did more than 17km over about 5 hours of walking. Great exercise and well worth it for those views. Have you climbed Snowdon before? I’d recommend it!