Mt Snowdon vs a few lads
Updated: Dec 7, 2018
Snowdonia, 823 square miles of pure mountainous bliss that attracts over 3 million visitors a year and generates over £430 million a year in tourism expenditure. Myself and a few lads were a few among the 3 million tourists who traveled many miles to conquer the mighty Mount Snowdon, and on Saturday August 5th 2017 we did just that. Upon departing from Norwich, Norfolk the flat lands of United Kingdom where an ant mound is considered a hill, we had just embarked on a 300 mile journey to the uneven and jagged terrain of Wales.
Myself and the boys camped at Llys Derwen Caravan and Camping site and hooked up a tent for two nights, the site charges £16 per night per tent for two people (as of 2017) and has access to hot showers, toilets, washing rooms, launderette, disabled wet room and many other facilities. The other advantage of this particular site is its location, literally a 10–15 minute drive from Mount Snowdon and also very local to the Glyntwrog public house(lovely food, fair prices), which is perfect for a good feast after a hard day’s climbing.
Saturday morning after a good sleep and heart warming breakfast me and the boys decided to venture towards Mt Snowdon to Pen y Pass car park off the A4086 located at Gwynedd, north-west Wales, which is where the starting location of ‘The Pyg Track’ begins. We arrived at the car park at about 08:00 am and the car park was full so we had to drive further down to the 2nd car park which is owned by the same organisation and charges £5 for a stay over 4 hours (which you will if you are climbing Snowdon), be warned the parking machines only accept coins, no notes, card or phone payments here! As the 2nd car park is mile or 2 further down from Pen y Pass there is a local bus that will transport you to base of Mt Snowdon for £1.50 per person (each way) and runs most of the day.
Pyg Track, Caernarfon LL55 4NU our chosen path to tackle the formidable mass of pure stone that awaits for our arrival. Nobody knows for definite why this path is called the ‘Pyg Track’, though some believe it was to carry ‘pyg’ a black tar to the copper mines of Snowdon. All I know, is that this path is a pyg to climb and is one of the hardest and most rugged paths of the 6 you can take up to Snowdon. From the offset this path is a constant up hill battle of man vs nature and your thighs will be burning within the first 10 minutes of the climb, however, no pain no gain. Take my advice (or don’t) to tackle the Pyg track you need to be fit and mobile, this path is unforgiving and will pray on your weaknesses like kryptonite to Superman. Pyg Track is the shortest of all the paths as it starts slightly higher than the rest and expect 7 miles of climbing at an elevation of 723 metres, however, (in the voice of Yoda) shorter it may be, more challenging it is.
Upon walking Pyg track you will notice the razor edge of Snowdon which is the Crib Goch path, by all means avoid this path unless you are an experienced mountaineer as this is the most dangerous and many people have lost their lives trying to cross it, trust me Pyg track is hard enough. The first section of Pyg is rocky and rough and tread carefully as misplaced foot can lead to an ankle injury or worst a fall. Upon climbing the first section you will see stunning views of Glyderau mountain range and the Llanberis Pass and the beautiful valleys carved out of ice from the last ice age. Continue walking for another hour or so and you will come across Bwlch y Moch a popular site for rock climbers and Llyn Llydaw will come into sight below with views of the lakes surrounded by Mt Snowdon's ominous presence as it towers 500 metres above the lake (see image below).
During the ascent you will notice a standing stone which marks the spot where the Pyg track and Miners track meet, from this spot the path climbs steeply towards Bwlch Glas or ‘Blue Pass’ called by the welsh ancients and needs to be treated with respect as it stands 990m above sea level and can be treacherous in the winter months. As you arrive at Bwlch Glas you will see the railway up the right hand side which has been transporting visitors since 1896, you will likely see the old coal powered train ascent and descent the mountain and takes about 2.5 hours from top to bottom at a cost of about £20 per adult. From this point you are on the final stretch towards the summit and will take about 15–20 minutes at a leisurely pace which is a blessing since the hard shift you will put in to get here. When you reach the summit, be proud of your achievement and inhale a deep breath of fresh air and gaze upon the awesome views of wales and on a clear day you can even see Ireland or the Isle of Man. Be warned the summit can be a perilous place even in the summer months, especially with the winds which in winter can reach up to 150 mph, so if the weather is undesirable pop to the local summit cafe ‘Hafod Eryri’ for a well deserved hot cup of tea.