Clinging to the side of a mountain

Posted on Mon 29 March 2010 by alex in general

The trip up the tallest peak in Wales was a fairly interesting affair. It's certainly not understood by one of our Danish hosts who despite working next to Snowdon has never been up it. Apparently the Danish don't make a habit of walking up hills just for the hell of it. I guess not having many hills of interest makes them keener cyclists.

We took the Watkin path up which is one of the less crowded paths. It take you past a number of blasted ruins and the site of a more popular political rally. The climb was slow and steady and certainly kept me warm on the way up, however the final peak continued to loom. The sense of perspective is oddly distorted at the bottom of the valley and gets progressively more dominating as you approach the final peak. It was wreathed in a cloudy top which also hid a lot of scree shifting underfoot. The final assault involved a scramble up a fairly steep slope with lots of shifting scale. There were a number of times I attached myself to the nearest solid looking rock while I caught my breath. There was the occasional burst of vertigo when I looked into the distance. However I soon learnt to stop doing that and concentrate on the task at hand and continue upwards. Thanks to the cloud obscuring our progress the sudden appearance of the cafe looming out of the mist was a welcome surprise. The steps to the final peak where a lot easier to negotiate.

The top was still covered in snow which made coming down the other side a little treacherous. However it was also a lot busier as most people seem to be using the non-scrambling (and also train friendly) route. Although we headed down this side of the mountain we quickly split from the main thoroughfare and descended the Pyg track. The initial bit of the track involved controlled sliding through the snow whilst trying not to think about how narrow the path was. However past the worst of it and we made rapid progress back down the other side of the mountain. The track splits up halfway down and we stuck to the more scenic Pyg track ignoring the flatter and easier Miners track. However it's evident the track has been fairly heavily hammered in previous seasons. There were a lot of sacks of stones for re-doing the path. This made the going fairly heavy and quite hard on the knees thanks to some big steps. By the time we arrived at the Pen-y-Gwryd hotel we were appreciative of the local Welsh ale waiting for us.

Special mention must go to the hotel. It has shared bathroom facilities including one of most amazing Victorian baths I've ever seen. Although it scored points for being so incredibly big (at 7 feet long you could lie in it) it also had some fancy brass-work controlling the multiple delivery options. I shall see if I can actually get the video I have uploaded somewhere.

EDIT TO ADD: There, my first YouTube upload.