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Snowdonia Peaks

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

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