The last few years have seen me join a trip to Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (traditionally called ‘Snowdon In the Snow’) with a group of friends – some old, some new. I’ve organised it a couple of times too, if my unreliable memory serves me well.
The trip this weekend comprised seven of us and was organised by Jenny.
The annual (to date) trip originated before I first attended in 2012.
It’s always been loosely based on:
– a group of folks from Marsden (or compadres thereof – as many as 30 one year)
– being early enough in the year (ideally January) to hopefully have some snow
– being a walk / slog up the Llanberis path (the ‘easy’ route in summer but a different proposition in winter in heavy rain and fog / sleet / blizzards / foul weather)
– a hostel stopover, so people can socialise, tell tall tales and sing songs over a few beers
This year we had driving rain and high winds.
‘Saturated Snowdon’ may be a better walk name.
No snow. No views.
Just low cloud and biting wind from Clogwyn Station bridge onwards. And relentless rain. The snap crackle and popping of rain on our hoods the whole way. Miserable? No, I enjoyed it, in a Tolkien fashion.
It was, again, a great trip. Spending time with the friends, the camaraderie encountered with strangers who were also battling the elements and feeling satisfied having got to the top: all counterbalanced the miserable weather.
I was marking out the ascent in my head in bail-out points.
We had come close the canceling the trip when we had seen the forecast the day before. Wind chill was going to be bad at the summit and we knew, no matter how good the gear we had, that we would likely be wet through.
But we all layered up and had decent kit. Although nobody stayed dry for long.
We conferred at Halfway House, then under Clogwyn Bridge, then near the standing stone (after the worst of the gale and freezing rain on the exposed, steep section above Clogwyn). The consensus at the standing stone was to get the summit but not hang about to get too cold.
This is the bit where I bemoan folks who wear jeans and trainers and / or hoodies and no coat. All the above were encountered.
I’m not being sanctimonious – everyone has the right to decide the right risk:reward equation for them.
And it’s easy to think you’re warm when you are moving (faster than me in all likelihood!) uphill. And the cold would only really kick in when you stop at the summit. And most of the ill-dressed folk I saw had youth on their side – that additional energy, bravado and sense of invulnerability isn’t to be sniffed at. I’ve no doubt it got most to the top and back.
But I saw one lad being carried down in a thermal blanket / bivvy bag by others (it’s great that people were looking out for each other). And (related, I think) I saw some Mountain Rescue guys walking up as we were headed down. I’ll check the MR Facebook page but hopefully all ended well and my note here isn’t a frowny lecturing one, – I don’t know the circumstances of the lad being carried by others down the path but I hope all was well. And he wouldn’t have set off planning to run in to problems, we all make mistakes.
This is more a concern generally for people who go out ill-equipped for the prevailing weather and elevation. This was never going to be a sunny, dry day.
A woman stopped me as I was coming back down to Clogwyn Bridge. Her friends were looking just as hesitant as her about carrying on and she asked me how far to the top. She had trackies and a hoody on. I really didn’t want to come across admonishing / patronising, so I just said something like “about 2o-25 minutes. And it’s colder ahead. And the next bit is really windy. And there’s no shelter now till the summit. And the cafe isn’t open yet [more’s the pity].” They were debating as I headed off but I saw them a couple of minutes later heading down behind me. Good move.
By the way, I had a spare down gilet, gloves, hat, buff and bivvy bag with me in case any of our guys needed it. I figured the extra weight to have those available was worth it. As it turned out, all someone needed was a compeed plaster from my first aid kit – but that made me feel useful 🙂
We stopped at Penceunant Isaf tea rooms again this year on the way down.
Lots of coffee and Bara Brith and the chance to steam gently in front of the log fire. As always, Steffan and his team were very friendly and navigated their trays around all the soaked bodies. I heard four different languages whilst we were there. Lovely stuff.
We ended the day in The Heights hostel and bar, where we were booked in for the night. We all demolished the excellent food and ale (great atmosphere there by the way).
And we were joined by Mac, friend from Marsden who has had an association with Llanberis and the surrounding hills and mountains for many years. Mountaineer, walker, wild swimmer, septuagenarian fiddle player .. and teller of tall tales. Mac entertained us (and some other folks in the bar) along with Tony – and kept us up longer than maybe our weary bodies would have wanted to stay without the music and banter 🙂
Previous ‘Snowdon In The Snow’ posts here