Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path

Snowdon In The Snow 2016 jaunt

Last week was that time of year again for the annual pilgrimage to Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon summit: Snowdon In The Snow. Pilgrimage? Well, the same route repeated each year, albeit with varying group composition and often with a physical / meteorological challenge to get to a snow-capped pinnacle feels like a pilgrimage to me. I’m not religious but I was praying for decent weather and the chance to see (for once) some views from the top. Hallelujah (ok, I’ll stop now) – the weather was with us and we had great views in the biting air on the summit.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
(forecasted conditions for the day we walked – although photo taken the next morning at Pen Y Pass hostel).

The route we took was, as per the previous (five, I think) years that I’ve joined this social hike, the Llanberis Path. This was the thirteenth or fourteenth year that a bunch of friends and acquaintances (mostly Marsden-based) have undertaken ‘Snowdon In The Snow’. We headed over to North Wales early on Saturday morning to get as much walking done in daylight as possible.

A couple of things were different this year:

– We were heading to Snowdon later than the usual early January. So that need for an early start wasn’t as pressing (in hindsight). There’s a marked difference in available end-of-day light between very early January and late February.

– I organised the trip. I arranged last year’s jaunt too but that was with a small group. This year there were sixteen of us, with a few more who had ‘signed up’ but sadly couldn’t make it on the day. Not that the organising was tricky – thank you Facebook closed groups. I stepped in this and last year as, ‘founder’ Steve had too much else going on. He was missed though and hopefully he’ll be the man with the plan next time.

‘Good’ weather

We had an eye on the weather and if we were to encounter a blizzard, as we have a couple of other times, we would have turned around. Luckily for us the weather was great and even the forecasted wind chill of -14 wasn’t as cold as predicted (around -2  on the summit I’d say). Lucky also for a couple of folk who I saw wearing trainers and jeans on. Most people up there (and it was pretty busy) had the right gear on, with boots (and in some cases like us, with spikes) to be used above the snow line. But yep there were some trainers in evidence. Blimey.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Heading up the Llanberis Path with snow evident towards Snowdon summit
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
A breather below the snow line (which started around Clogwyn bridge). Llyn Du’r Arddu (I think!) below us.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Son Joe and I below Clogwyn bridge.. yes I was pretty warm at this stage..

Everyone in the group was known to me but not all known to each other at the start of the day. And it included a couple of friends of mine who I used to work with, it was great to have them along and walk and talk on the mountain. I think we worked together around 2000-2003 (ish), in the ‘new media’ bolt-on of a big ad agency. We’ve stayed friends since and (mostly) avoided work talk on the day.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Me with Neal and Chris.

A couple of guys who have been on several of the previous trips ducked out this year as they’ve grown bored of the same route each year. As it was, (and again with hindsight) doing this ‘later’ in the year would actually have given us wider scope to use a couple of the other routes. We saw quite a few people coming up the Pyg Track as we got to the standing stone.

But even though we traversed the same route as every other year I’ve been, it wasn’t boring for me. Probably for the same reason I like repeating some walks on the hills near me: Black, Pule and March amongst others. It’s the same hill and often the same track (when I’m not going off-piste) but the change in weather, season, time of day and frame of mind means I experience the changing fauna, flora and vistas differently on each traverse.

And for me, Snowdon In The Snow is also about
– the company and experiencing the ‘ritual’ of a familiar route with them
– the will-we-won’t-we-get-to-the-top discussions before we reach Clogwyn bridge to see just how much of a whiteout awaits us around the corner
–  the evening social in a different location to where I would normally see the guys who live in the same village as me.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Jenny, Taru and Scout dog on the path above the Cwm Glas Bach cliff section. There were people below us walking up and down the train line to get to the summit. Not sure why.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Giddy walkers, realising we would actually have views at the top.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Spikes were very useful the higher we went, as Tony would agree. Not everyone up there was using them but the definitely helped on the way down!
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Jeff, Tony and Mac enjoying the rare (for us) vistas.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
A lot of the Llyns / Lakes were visible below us. I can’t name them short of jumping on Google maps, sorry.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
More giddy summiteers.. we had to queue to get to the trig point.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Stu also happy.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path

For the post-jaunt social over-nighter we ate in the welcoming Vaynol Arms and stayed in the Pen Y Pass YHA. Thanks to Mac, Tony, Jeff, Joe and Taru for providing the musical entertainment. And thanks to David  for driving Joe and I over (and for the great in-car soundtrack to the trip). I’d planned to drive but picked up a cracked windscreen the day before on the M1.

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Team photo by an obliging passer-by. In recent years we have been head down in driving snow , so it was great to relax and take the chance to enjoy the time together.
Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path
Mac on fiddle, Jeff on bones at YHA Pen Y Pass. We had a 10pm curfew so as not to disturb others. You could just about hear the music above the wide-screen TV at the other end of the dining room where we sat. I shouldn’t romanticize good company, live music and beer in a mountain hostel and accept some people want TV even in that setting. Enough said the better 😉

Snowdon In The Snow hike trip Llanberis Path

Another fun Snowdon In The Snow – this time with added views from the summit 🙂


4 thoughts on “Snowdon In The Snow 2016 jaunt”

  1. This is quite a cool tradition I reckon. There’s something very special about returning to the same place year on year; it’s a great opportunity to see what has changed both in the view you are faced with but also in your own life. I’m really looking forward to walking up Snowdon in October – will be my first time up to the top.

    • Yep it’s a nice tradition, Zoe. And I like your thoughts about those changing views, nicely put. I’m looking forward to walking up there with you 🙂

  2. Fantastic photos Mark! Really crisp, just like the views. I love the idea of an annual pilgrimage with old and new friends joining each year. I love nothing more than finishing off a day’s walking with a hearty meal and beverage in a cozy pub.

    I think you will be joining the other Snowdon experts from Mud and Routes and leading the way for the Outdoor Bloggers Weekend in October!

    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

    • Thanks Jenni!

      I might be leading from the back if my knee keeps troubling me (should be resting it more but I’ve got a narrowboat move (I’ll walk a lot of to do locks so abut 12 miles over days) and a 3 day trip to Cairngorms coming up. Which is great but my knee won’t like me 🙂 I’ll just mooch up and let the expert and fitter guys lead on 🙂

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