Our climb up Mount Snowdon in the winter

We had such a great time hiking to the summit of Torres del Paine in November 2015, that a few days after we’d done it, we made arrangements to trek to the top of Mount Snowdon in January. We thought that the winter conditions in Wales in January would be similar to that of Patagonia during Spring time and we weren’t wrong, give or take several feet of snow!

A week before the trek, we checked the weather forecast, various online reports and social media posts to find that many climbers had abandoned the trek and turned back due to perilous weather conditions. We tried to cancel our accommodation but were told that it was 100% cancellation fees so we decided to drive to Wales anyway and make a weekend of it, even if we didn’t climb Snowdon.

After 5 hours on the roads, we arrived at the YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass Hostel late on the Friday night and went straight to bed, excited about the following day. We woke up early the next morning and managed to catch the beautiful sunrise and also saw lots of hikers getting ready to start their ascent to the top of Snowdon. After taking a few snapshots, we drove a couple of miles down into the village to enquire about hiring crampons and an ice axe to be told that our hiking boots were not suitable for the crampons they had. We were also told to wait 45 minutes until all their clients had arrived and picked up their equipment, before they could offer us anything. Feeling slightly deflated, we left the store and decided to walk the base, assess the situation, turn back and spend the rest of the day chilling out in the hostel, and then come back to the store the next day to pick up our equipment and perhaps attempt to climb to the summit then.

So around 9.45am we started walking along the Pyg Track, the shortest route up Snowdon, and one that involves the least amount of ascent. However, reports say that it can be steep and tricky in some places and they weren’t wrong. Less than a mile in, the ground was already covered in snow and getting hard to climb. That first mile took over 35 minutes according to my Garmin! Once we reached the point where we could see the lake Llyn Llydaw below us, and Crib Goch to the right, the path levelled out and we had a quick snack break. It became quite easy after that so we continued to the point where the Pyg Track met Miner’s Track. Here, we found several groups of hikers including some experienced ones with all the correct equipment, who were giving up and turning back because of the thick snow and low visibility. We spoke to some of them and decided to continue until we found it too difficult. It did get quite scary, especially once we reached the sheer cliffs below Garnedd Ugain. Usually hikers can see the wire gabions which mark the point at which the path turns right up the infamous zig-zags, but the wire gabions were buried in snow and we could barely see them! Another small group passed us as they headed in the opposite direction to where we were going, and the German Shepherd that was with them literally froze as it was too scared to carry on. Nonetheless we continued climbing, and we met another couple who also had no equipment on them but wanted to see how far they could get. It wasn’t long before we got to the crest of the ridge marked by a finger post, Bwlch Glas and realised that we’d almost made it to the top! The path continued on the left and it was only another 100m to go, so we joined the many hikers who had also made it, and carried on trekking for another 10 minutes until we reached the summit.Visibility was very poor, we were now exposed to the bitter wind and my hair was frozen so we took a few celebratory photos and quickly started our descent down. Considering the reports and the many hikers who had turned back, the summit was still swarming with people who had made it, including us. If, like me, you have long hair, then be sure to keep it under wrap as the ends of mine were literally frozen and were at risk of breaking! Not wanting to sport a bob for the rest of the season, I quickly tucked my hair into my woolly hat and snow jacket, and the ice around each strand of my hair quickly melted away.

Read more about our descent down, what I wore and packed and important notes…

 

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