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Snowdonia Peaks

Sunday, 31 January 2016


My 2nd walk of 2016 saw me back in Snowdonia and another walk up Moel Siabod but this time in the snow. I did attempt this last year but the depth of the snow and blizzards prevented me from reaching the summit but this time was to be more successful. It was also the busiest I have seen it with a string of walkers all making their way and enjoying the good winter conditions. It also made it slightly easier as there was a well trodden path to follow and plenty of folk around if there was to be any mishaps, and thankfully there wasn't. I thought it would be a busy one when I got to the car park at the Bryn Glo Cafe and most of the spaces were taken up as was the lay-by across the road. At this point there wasn't any low lying snow about, just a bit of light rain that made it a bit damp. A bit different to the forecast as it was meant to be quite a good clear day with good summit views!!! Been there before :-) It was still good visibility and the summits were all clear of cloud so as hopeful as ever to see some fine views from this fine mountain. Across the road, over the bridge that has the Afon Llugwy running undernath, up the steep lane that takes you past the farm and Siabod Cottages and then starts to levell about a bit as Siabod comes into view.
My route for the day

Moel Siabod from Plas y Brenin
Bridge over the Afon Llugwy
A snowy Moel Siabod ahead
 By this time there was a bit of snow on the ground and because of the light cloud cover it all seemed a bit monochrome in appearance. The lying snow was quite slushy and as I got to the unnamed Llyn it had melted quite a bit on the path and proved to be quite easy walking with no ice knocking about. Although I had my spikes with me they were to stay in my bag for the whole walk. Infact of all the people I saw out on the mountain there was only two or three that had any sort of spikes on. As the snow was fairly deep and soft and and the path made by all the people out there was well trodden, there was no slipping and sliding to be had.  I'm sure, like me, that folk had them in their bags if needed just to be on the safe side. As it was, good progress was made and I had my first rest at the old Quarry before another steep asent and what proved to be quite deep snow at this point.
Looking down on old quarry buildings and the unnamed Llyn
More old quarry buildings higher up
The old quarry pool
Follow the leader
The going from here up to the col was quite hard as the snow was in places over a foot deep but following in the footsteps of the previous walkers meant there was no hidden obstacles. The usual path follows besides or straight up a stream that runs down and is quite rocky in places with the ground besides it being quite boggy. This time though someone had gone straight up the middle of the bank and everyone just seemed to follow in the footsteps making it more bearable. At the top of the col it offered some good views down on Llyn y Foel and across to the Daear Ddu Ridge which was to again be the way up to the summit
Looking back down towards the old quarry
A frozen Llyn y Foel with the Daear Ddu Ridge on the right
Looking back to the top of the col
Frozen Llyn Y Foel
The start of the Daear Ddu Ridge
It was on the ridge last year that I turned back after getting stuck in thigh high snow and with no others about it was safety first. This time I was in a convoy of thirty others stretched out the length of the ridge and all following in each others footsteps making it relatively easier to follow but still taking time as I made sure I could see people either in front or behind me as the mist kept on coming in and out the higher I got making it difficult to see at times. It was also snowing lightly adding to the atmosphere. Despite all that I was thoroughly enjoying it and despite stopping to take photo's and checking I was following the right footsteps, the summit seemed to arrive much quicker than it does on a clear sunny day. On reaching the summit there was no views to be had and it was a bit bracing in the wind so I took shelter behind the busy wind shelter for twenty minutes or so for a warm drink. I've been up here quite a few times now and can't remember seeing as many people on the summit as this day. Even in the height of summer you can find yourself on your own, felt quite strange really but I was quite glad to of had a decent path in the snow to follow.
Looking down to Llyn y Foel
Following in the footsteps on the ridge
Keeping an eye on those behind me
An all but brief glimpse back down the ridge
The ice block summit
Lunchtime view of my descent route.
As the views came and went during my break it finally opened up a bit revealing the way ahead and once more quite a few folk making there way up from Plas y Brenin. I was tempted to make my way down that way as most folk were taking that route but I didnt really fancy it and at the same time didn't want to risk going over the spine with all the boulders and ups and downs. I knew I could go under the rocky top and head for a stile in the fenceline to take me down the gully/path/stream that leads back onto the main path so I headed in that direction, again following footsteps but this time the snow in places was thigh deep making it hard going. I was loving it :-)
A break in the cloud shows the way ahead
More people on the way up
On the approach to the stile through the deepest of the snow
The sun doing it's best to get through the cloud cover
Another short snow fall
The view down to the main path below
Another rest before the steep descent
Looking back up the descent path on the right of the ridge
Well another fine day on this fine lonely mountain that never disappoints despite the no views from the summit. A great day in the snow and I was kinda glad that there was a few others about as it certainly helped with route finding following in others footsteps. Despite the wind on the summit I didn't really feel the cold and also found it quite secure underfoot without the use of my microspikes. As I said earlier, I only saw one or two with crampons/spikes on as the snow was quite deep and soft without being too compact. With the weather being what it is in England & Wales at the moment I'm not sure wether there'll be many more snowy mountain days to be had so I was glad I took advantage this time.

Thanks Siabod, till next time :-)

A short video of the day

Sunday, 3 January 2016


Happy New Year :-)
My third time going up Snowdon on New Years Day in the past 7 years and this was just as interesting as the other two. As Jill was yet again working an early shift, I had been checking the weather forecast everyday for the week leading up to NY'sD, as this part of the world had been getting a good old soaking with the wettest December on record. Floods and high winds seemed to be the order of the day, every day so a bit of forward planning was needed. Despite all the bad weather, NY'sD was at least looking to be one of the driest for the most part and only changing by late afternoon so an early start was needed. 4am and off went the alarm, 5am and off I set down the deserted M56 & A55 getting to Pen y Pass about 6.40am to see a nearly full car park!! Going to be busy I thought, as I set off along the deserted Miners Path about 7am in darkness, with the only light provided by my head torch and the moon trying its best to get through the thin cloud cover. Not a soul in sight as I made steady progress round the well laid out and easy to follow path that snakes round the bottom of the horns and comes out facing Llyn Llydaw with a snow capped Snowdon looming large and quite atmospheric watching the torchlights of people as they made there way up and down the summit. There was also a few folk enjoying a wild camp out on the shores of Llyn Llydaw, a novel way of seeing in the New Year!!
My route for the day

Looking back to Pen y Pass
The moon trying to light the way
The best of the sunrise
Snow capped Snowdon & Crib Goch
Room with a view
 By this time it was light enough to be without a torch as the sun was trying its best to break through the clouds but like the moon, to no avail so not much of a colourful sunrise. It was quite pleasant and not much wind as this path can be quite sheltered and despite the snow on the tops and all the rain over the last few weeks, it was very dry underfoot making it a good morning to be out. The Miners Path is a very well laid out path that follows the shore line and passes the old copper mine before a steady climb up to Glaslyn, The Blue Lake. This path is ideal for those that want a fairly easy walk to the lakes without getting to the summit and it offers great views of Snowdon
Snaking round Llyn Llydaw with Snowdon in the background

Looking back over Llyn Llydaw and the sunrise
Old Copper Mine

On the path to Glaslyn

Glaslyn outflow with Snowdon as the backdrop
From Glaslyn this is where the first steep climb is used to join up with the higher Pyg Track. Again it is fairly straight forward as there is a marker post and some laid out steps as if snakes upwards. This is where I encountered the first of any ice as there is quite a bit of water coming of the steep slopes and running down the path. The path is also a mixture of laid steps, loose scree and a few rocks and boulders to get over so care must be taken not to stray to much off course. Once at the top and joined onto the Pyg Track the ice and snow was more evident here and as a precaution I put on my microspike to help get a good grip. Perfect for the conditions as I didn't fancy any mishaps as there are some steep drops so any slip could be very uncomfortable. It was still very quiet at this time with very few people about, making the early start perfect for missing any crowds. Again, the Pyg Track is a good path to follow but it has its fair share of ups and downs and is more of a track than a laid out path as it snakes through more rock and boulders and is more likely to have more snow and ice lying about as it is more sheltered from any winter sun so more care is needed. As it was now good light with no mist it was very easy to see and all tops were clear making it very enjoyable as I made my way up to the top of the Pyg Track where it joins the main path up to the summit.
Looking back down onto Glaslyn from the Pyg Track
Looking back along the more wintery Pyg Track than the lower Miners Path
Looking back down to Glaslyn & Llyn Llydaw from the start of the zig-zags
The final snowy hundred metres of the Pyg Track
The marker post at the top of the Pyg Track

View back down on my ascent
 Once at the top, the wind was more noticeable as it was starting to pick up and the snow and ice made the place quite monochrome looking as I made my way to the summit. One thing about being up and out early at this time of year is the lack of other people and you really get a sence of being on top of a mountain rather than a summer tourist attraction. As I reached the summit there was 5 other people there enjoying the great views and relative solitude. A few happy new years and hello's I found myself having the place to myself for about 20 minutes as I soaked up the last of the clear views before the wind started whipping up the lying snow and bringing in some clouds. I found a spot for a warm drink and a bite to eat before I made my way down and hitting quite a lot of people making there way up just as the wind and clouds were rolling in.
Cafe summit views looking out towards the coast
Summit ravens fighting over a bit of mince pie :-)
Summit view looking down on Llyn Lludaw and the Miners Path
Summit view looking down on the zig-zag Pyg Track
Hobbit on the summit

Summit view of the cafe and South Ridge
Snowdon Summit Trig Point
View down to the Pyg Tack

Looking back to the summit
View down to Glaslyn & Llyn Llydaw
 It was on the way down that I was pleased to have been so early as I had the best of the last good views and the weather. More cloud was rolling in and out as the wind was getting stronger and I felt a bit sorry for the folk just making there way up, not only that they would miss the views but the way some folk dress for a winter walk in the mountains is a bit mystifying. I for one was glad I invested in a pair of microspikes to get a good grip on the ice. Not as technical as full on crampons but good enough for this amount of ice and they certainly put a bit more confidence in each step you take. Despite the wind whipping the clouds up over the tops, it was still clear as I made my way down and out of the snow and ice.
View down from the Pyg Track
The steep icy slopes of Garnedd Ugain & Crib Goch
View back to Snowdon with the wind whipping across Glaslyn
High above the windswept Llyn Llydaw
I also came a cross a party of people who were giving assistance to some guy who had taken a tumble off Crib Goch and also his friend who was stuck on a quite dangerous ledge. I'm glad to say that both got down safely later in the day thanks to the good work of the Mountain Rescue Service. A reminder that although the mountains of the UK are a great place to visit, accidents can and do happen and great care should be taken.
Crib Goch and the rescue party
Last photo of the day as the weather took a turn for the worse
 It was also at this point in the day that the predicted weather rolled in quite suddenly and turned quite wild within a few minutes. Rain, hail and very strong winds were with me for the last 45 minutes or so as I made my way back to the car very satisfied that I had started the new year off in great style. Something tells me this year may be a little adventurous. :-) Despite all the cars in the car park very early on, there was very few people on my ascent which surprised me a bit. It was quite different on my descent as I passed a lot on there way up. Here's hoping that they all enjoyed there new years day on Snowdon as much as I did despite the worsening weather and they didn't get too wet or cold.


A short video of my walk up the Miners Path to Snowdon Summit