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