Featured post

Snowdonia Peaks

Friday, 4 January 2013

SNOWDON New Years Day 2013

I had been wanting to go up Snowdon on a new years day since new years day 2009. I first did this as Jill was working, the dreaded shift work, and the kids were out partying so I thought sod it, I know what I'll do. That day 4 years ago was a blue sky day with the temperature in the valleys touching -12 with people skating on Llyn Lockwood next to the Pen y Gwryd Hotel! A tad cold!. Going up the Pyg Track though was quite different as the temperature was quite warm, in fact at one time I was sat having a break basking in the warm sun in a tee shirt! The summit offered great clear hazy views it could of been summer up there.

 So fast forward 4 years and another new year shift for Jill and no kids, well young adults now. How time flys!
I had been looking at the weather for a fortnight and it did look like I wouldn't make it as first the snow and then the rain kept on falling and just didn't look like stopping. It wasn't until about 3 days before that there looked to be a dry day coming along, new years day, and also checking the various webcams it looked like most of the deep snow had all but disappeared making it more favourable to get to the summit without to much hassle. So the day was set and at 6am I found myself on the deserted motorway & A55 heading towards Snowdon. These are the days when driving is most enjoyable as i was virtually the only car heading it that direction. Some may say I'm mad but once in a while it's good to have a clear head at new year and as it happened I wasn't the only one!
I had decided to take the Miners Path as my ascent as I hadn't gone up this way before and also if there was a sudden change in the weather it's an easier path to come down.
I started walking at 8.15am and although it was overcast there was a breeze blowing making it feel quite cool but thankfully no hint of any rain.

 Making my way along the Miners Path offered great views down the valley towards the Plas y Brenin Centre sandwiched between the Glyderau & Moel Siabod.

The Miners Path is for the most part a well laid out path that is very easy, fairly flat and straight forward. You soon get a great view of the Snowdon Horseshoe laid out in front of you as the path snakes it way round Llyn Teryn

and looking back towards Moel Siabod as the sun tries to break up the clouds

A short walk round this Llyn and you come the the large reservoir that is Llyn Llydaw with the mighty peaks of Crib Goch

And the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd towering Snowdons largest lake

This is a popular place all year round as it's made very accessible to all. There was even someone braving a camp out on the shore. A novel way to see in the new year!

At this point the path starts a steady climb up towards Glaslyn aka The Blue Lake. Its a gradual climb rather than a steep one and follows the waterfall that come from Glaslyn into Llyn Llydaw

Once at the top of this section you soon start to feel the special atmosphere that this place has to offer. It's a good place to rest up after the steady climb and just take it all in before the steep section climbs up and joins the Pyg Track.

The way up to join the Pyg Track is by way of a path that cuts up through the rocks. Although it is fairly easy there are a few places where you can find yourself straying away from the path so some concentration is needed especially in poor weather.

Once at the top of this section there are some good views back down, although I was now on the edge of the mist that had been hanging around the tops all day. There was also some lads who were braving the cold weather and what must of been freezing water to take a dip! Rather them than me!!

A steady climb that took me into the mist with patches of hard compact snow and also the first signs of ice on the path. It was now that I was fully out of any wind and was feeling quite warm. It had been a very pleasant day with only a few other people about and not really that cold. It was now just a matter of the zig zag section before I topped out at the Finger Stone marking the spot where you join the main path upto the summit.

Now this is where it all changed! After being out of the wind and feeling quite warm it was like walking into a gigantic freezer with the blowers going at full blast!! It certainly took your breath away as the wind was blowing up the west face with a bitter wind chill. The finger post looked like something out of the arctic compared to the rocks and paths I had just been on

It was certainly a stark change in conditions but luckily I had enough layers on to keep the freezing wind at bay. This is where wearing the right gear pays off and despite the wind I was very comfy as I made the last 10 minute walk up to the summit

I got to the summit and wasn't alone. There was five other people there, the least amount of people I have seen in all the times I have been on the summit of Snowdon. There's usually a few more than that especially on warm sunny days! I managed to get the obligatory summit photo despite being blown about by the wind. I think my expression says it all :-)

I managed to find a spot out of the wind, behind a wall near to the cafe, which was closed at this time of the year. I was hoping that just this once it was open but then that would take the fun out of fending off the elements and the seagull that I fed might of gone hungry :-)

I had about 20 minutes at the summit before I'd had enough of the wind so made my way back down by following the train track as this proved a bit easier and keeping a lookout for the finger post that marks the top of the Pyg Track. I took a photo to show the ice on my jacket but its a bit blurry as the wind was quite strong here.

As soon as I got down the first few steps of the path the wind had stopped completely and there was an errie silence for a bit.

It was like another world for a few minutes as out of the mist came the first of quite a few other people on their way up. In fact there was quite a lot over the next half hour or so, so I was glad to of been up there when I was otherwise it would of been quite busy. Then again, the way some people were dressed, they were in for more than just a shock at the change of conditions but that's for another day. I was now coming out of the mist and back into civilization again as Glaslyn came back into view where the wind was making patterns on the surface

And there seemed to be quite a few more making their way up from the Miners Track

I was out of the mist and there were some great views to be had although Snowdon was still shrouded and the clouds were quite low.

I never tire of the views around this area and they change with every visit. With the wind making patterns on the Llyn's below to the clouds and patches of blue sky made it look and feel very dramatic.

By this time the Pyg Track is very straight forward and skirts around the bottom of Crib Goch, the knife edge ridge that forms the early part of the Snowdon Horeshoe, the clasic Snowdonia ridge walk

Just a steady walk round to the paths junction with Crib Goch and also The Horn and looking back from where I have just been

Before I made my way down to the car park and some great views down the valley towards Llanberis

The Glyerau were also still shrouded in mist, making them very atmospheric

I arrived back to a full car park and also a lot of cars parked on the roadside and the parking places at the bottom of the pass. Plenty of people out making the most of a dry New Years Day

All that was left now was the steady drive home in time for our traditional new years day treat of a mixture of cheeses, crackers, grapes, apples, rustic bread and other treats :-)

Happy New Year to all out there 

A short video that shows the different conditions of the day


  1. Hey Andy. Wonderful write up. As for emerging at the finger post, it was the same in May. I came along the Pyg Track, sheltered, until they step up ont the ridge, and the wind hit hard and cold. Suddenly I had to get me hat, gloves, fleece and coat on. I'm glad you had a good start to the New Year.

  2. Thanks Lesley, it was a great start to the new year and i for one hope it carries on that way.
    That sudden change in the temperature made the air a bit more blue I can tell you :-) Another great day