Ever since I moved to Wales 2 years ago I had a quiet wish to climb the highest peak in this country - Snowdon. Last weekend was showing to be a perfect opportunity to fulfil that wish. I was working only till 12 pm and the forecast was for sunshine and high temperatures stretching way into the following week. Getting some good literature , so you know what your are doing, is very advisable.
If you are based in southwest Wales it is a good idea to head up there on the day before you are climbing as the road trip takes you over three hours. There are no motorways or even dual carriageways between the south and north parts of Wales! Instead of going for a more expensive option of a hotel or B&B (the decision to go to Snowdon was make pretty late and the hotel accommodations were either not available or very pricey) I opted for a campsite . The last camping I did was for a skydiving tournament that was held in my “home” DZ in Prečna near Novo mesto a few years back and I was a bit worried I might forget to bring along something essential. Hold that thought.
There was a slight snag with camping in this part of Wales. I looked at the weather forecast and the low day temperatures were very, very close to freezing - and I mean 0° or 1°C. This was the forecast for Llanberris. So instead I went for campsites a bit closer to the sea and, of course, the warmth. I found one close to the town of Penrhyndeudraeth called Barcdy . Would recomend it, but it is a bit more pricey then others: it cost £10/person/night for a tent - other campsites were around £6 or £7. The additional problem you might have to contend with is kids - there was a family that came to the camp after me and they put up their tent right next to mine and, you guessed it, had a bunch of very noisy kids with them. Don’t seem to be a big fan of them, but would maybe feel different, if they were mine - and I stress - MAYBE ;-).
Coming back to the issue of forgetting things - by some strange reason I forgot to take my sleeping bag with me - when I returned home on Sunday it was there, sitting on the floor in my bedroom, waiting to be taken along. I put all my camping stuff on one big pile to pack in the car and somehow I missed it. Thank god for sat-navs and Tesco Extra . I found one in Bangor that was open 24/7 and had a good selection of camping gear. The other unpleasant thing that happened was my car. At about 2 or 3 am it decided it is being attacked or stolen and the alarm went off. Now usually I wouldn’t be that upset about it but it was parked just outside the tent about 2 m away from my head with not much soundproofing in-between (if you can consider a tent wall soundproofing, that is).
The following morning I set of quite early and arrived at the Pen-y-pass car park at about 7am as the parking spaces were just running out. Some trekkers were already returning from the summit! Come to think of it, it might have to do with the parking as there were no parking attendants at that time in the morning. Just a word of warning - bring enough change. The parking is a pay-and-display and it is quite expensive, especially if you are staying longer than 3 or 4 hours as the parking is about £6 and the machine does not take notes. At that time in the morning there is nowhere to get change so you have to bring enough along. I, of course, did not have enough but an angel appeared in a form of another climber who saw my predicament and just gave me the missing three pounds in coins - just like that. I couldn’t believe what happened, I was in shock. I quickly realized I did have a £5 note and I ran after him and caught him on the parking lot just before he set off to the summit, gave him the £5 note and thanked him for about the fifth or sixth time. Really, why should he be out of pocket, I did had the money but just not in coins. See, there are still some nice people going around who will help you when you need it. I don’t know his name but I am sure his good deeds will be rewarded sooner or later.
The trek itself started off on a reasonable steep incline, with the morning sun warming my shoulders. I started on the Pyg track and then turned right on top of the pass to continue on the Crib Goch path. Now I would not recommend this route for beginners or young children - it can be very tricky. The majority of the track runs along the Crib Goch ridge and in some places is only about a metre wide with sheer cliffs on either side. Then you also have to contend with the wind trying to blast you off the cliff. If you have fear of hights then give this route a miss. You also might freeze on that ridge from fear and getting you down could prove to be very tricky. The route is also not recommended as a descend from Snowdon. I was surprised how much climbing was actually involved, much more than I was used to in mountains in Slovenia. This took a toll on my legs and I had to stop a few times, even on the descent, to relive the cramps in my upper legs.
There were not many climbers on the Crib Goch path but once you reach the 3m marker stone you joined the rest of climbers from the Pyg and Miners track and there were loads of them on that beautiful day. On this weekend it was like downtown Haverfordwest - full of people. The remainder is a short walk up to the summit walking by the Snowdon railtrack.
The descent on the Miners Track was a bit tedious and still quite stressful on the legs - it is almost completely covered by rock slabs and that does not make a very comfortable walking surface. In other places you have smaller stones and there you have to watch you dont sprain an ancle. There are some nice views of the lakes (see photo gallery) and the end part of the track is very easy - like a walk in a park :-)
At the time of my trek on May 30th the top railway station was closed for renovations and there were no refreshments or toilets available. I was surprised not to see a local entrepreneur selling us drinks and snacks - I remember seeing someone at the top of Triglav and there definitely weren’t as many people on that summit as there were on Snowdon.