A friend of mine has never walked Snowdon and as she was home from Australia for a few months we found a weekend free and off we went.
I’ve walked Snowdon twice before, using the Llanberis path both times. The first time was with Ash’s family, during Easter Weekend in 2010 when Guinness was only 8 months old. The second time Ash and I ventured up in January, setting off as it was just coming light and barely seeing anyone the whole way up.
The first time we did it in the average time of 4 hours up and 3 hours down. With Ash in January it took us 3 hours up 3 hours down.
I was confident that I could take Beth up but I was a little apprehensive, the last big peak I did was Scafell Pike and I really struggled, right from the word go. I knew I could do Snowdon again, but I was slightly worried about how slow I would be.
As we set off I found I was fine, powering ahead confidently. Unfortunately Beth had a cold so we took it steady with plenty of stops and worked our way to the top without rushing.
I felt really good, the whole way. I was really surprised and so pleased to find I wasn’t struggling. Sure I was out of breath on some of the steep climbs, but nothing dramatic. Nothing like Scafell.
We reached the top in about 3 and a half hours, ahead of schedule despite our steady pace.
I think it just shows that I can make it up big peaks at my own pace, I just can’t keep at Ash’s pace! Considering he is taller and much fitter than me that’s not exactly a surprise, nor does it take any credit away from my ability.
The foot traffic on the way up was busy and the top was heaving. As you would expect from a sunny Sunday in July. The train to the top only adds to the amount of people on the summit and it has left me resenting Snowdon a little.
There is a little rock podium with the top marker stone on and it’s really narrow, with lots of people trying to cram on to touch the top and get a photograph. It’s becoming unsafe in my opinion and I really think something should be done to change it. The café and the train both contribute to the number of people up there so perhaps they should contribute something towards it. I’ve seen it busy before but nothing like this time, and I get the impression that it’s often like this on a nice clear day.
One thing I didn’t expect to see up there was a Chinese Dragon! A group of walkers had carried it up there to raise money for Mountain Rescue. I popped a few coins into their bucket.
Unfortunately the summit was sat in a lingering cloud but the views on the way up there and back down were stunning.
We were back down in Llanberis in 6 hours in total, good going considering we were going steady!
In Llanberis crowds of people gathered around the train station and I was again feeling rather sad at how it had become such a tourist attraction. While I think it’s great that people can get to the top of a peak when they may have otherwises be unable to, for me a mountain is peace and quiet, secluded, a challenge, an adventure, and deserves respect… but all of that has been taken away from Snowdon, or at least from my experience of Snowdon.
People need to respect the dangers which mountains can propose. The changing weather, navigation, slips and trips. You need to set out to walk a mountain prepared and I feel that so many of the people heading up Snowdon, either by foot or on the train, don’t think about this. This is one of the reasons that problems occur and resources such as mountain rescue have to be called out.
I’ll always remember the story of the two lads who had to be rescued from Ben Nevis. They had no water with them and no extra clothes. They had set off in jeans, trainers and a thin waterproof. Just ridiculous.
Regardless of this I still had a great time with Beth and enjoyed making it up to the highest peak in Wales together. But I think that will be one of the last times I walk Snowdon, at least in summer anyway. There are many more secluded mountains out there to climb!
Snowdon, January 2012