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Snowdonia Peaks

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


So with the weather being settled and quite mild during the week and Jill having to work on the Sunday I thought I'd take my self out somewhere for a walk. At first it was going to be just a local one taking in the Autumn colours but as the week dragged on I thought I may pay the Lake District a visit as I've not been up there for a bit and Striding Edge and Helvellyn was looking favourite. That is until I started checking out the weekend forecast and was seeing that there was going to be a chance of cloud inversions around the highest mountains across the UK. Now this is one thing that I have wanted to see for a long time as I've not yet witnessed a full on inversion, quite a few near miss's and been in a situation where one was developing until the mist and cloud came down as well as up and ended in a pea soup!! As it had been quite warm during the day and cool in the mornings and evenings, the forecast was encouraging and also no rain was on the agenda which is also a good sign. So as the weekend approached there was only one place I was heading and that was the highest point in easy reach of home and also the chance to get in another crossing of the Crib, yep, Snowdon was the chosen one to witness what I was hoping to be an unforgettable day above the clouds :-)
As the clocks went back an hour, UK daylight saving, it meant an extra hour in bed but as I was up at 5am I'm not sure it worked out that well and it also meant that I had to be on my way down the mountain before it started to get dark around 5pm. So, up, out and  a very quiet drive down the motorway saw me booted up and walking for 7.45 in what can only be described as a bit murky, not what I was hoping for. It was a bit cool to start with and there was plenty of high cloud with pockets of mist here and there but at least it was dry and very still with hardly a breath of wind. At least that part was in my favour as going over Crib Goch is best done in good clear windless conditions, so that part was looking good. I had decided that I'd take on the North Ridge again as I enjoy the walk round and also the bit of extra scrambling this ridge gives you. As I set off from the Pen y Pass I noticed that the mist had got quite thick around Moel Siabod and the southern side of the Snowdon range but still quite clear in the direction I was heading so something was going to give, hopefully. There wasn't much going on in this part of Snowdon and the pass to Llanberis was almost 100% clear apart from some feint mist making it a bit on the murky side. It was, however, warming up and my jacket soon made its way into the pack and stayed there all day.
View of Crib Goch from the start of the Pyg Track
All clear down the pass and up to Crib Goch
It wasn't until I got to the path junction that I could see the difference on the south side as opposed to the more clear North side. And it wasn't until I got higher up that I knew something special was happening. My favourite Snowdonia mountain, Moel Siabod, was poking her head out of the cloud as if playing a game of peek-a-boo. It made for quite a dramatic view and as I got higher it got better and at one point I was looking down on the pass below me being engulfed by the cloud as it looked like a moving glacier taking over the valley, quite surreal really, especially as I was in the clear and the top half of the Glyderau range on the opposite side of the valley was also well clear. At one point the cloud did start to rise upwards and it looked like I was going to be engulfed but it turned out to be a false alarm as a sheet of mist came and went leaving me with a clear path to the bottom of the North Ridge.
Here we go
Moel Siabod, on the right, just clear of the cloud with The Glyderau, to the left, showing a bit more
Cloud rising up from Pen y Pass
Looking back along the goats track to the East Ridge with Moel Siabod above the cloud
Watching the cloud engulf the valley below
Unfortunately the cloud seemed to stop encroaching down the valley and started to retreat back, not sure why but again it was fun watching it as on a couple of occasions, it rolled in again before seemingly disappearing altogether! When I got to the top of the North Ridge and on to Crib Goch the views opened up and you could see the extent of the inversion. It stretch for as far as you could see southwards with all the highest summits just poking out of the cloud like a cluster of islands in the middle of the ocean. A joy to see as that's the first time I have witnessed it for real. A little disappointing that the whole area wasn't like that but a great sight nonetheless and one I won't forget in a hurry.
Distant summits above the clouds
The North Ridge leading on to Crib Goch
Moel Siabod
North Ridge
Looking back down the North Ridge and a clear valley below 
Looking down Crib Goch East Ridge
Across to Y Lliwedd
Looking down a clear Pen y Pass to Llanberis
As well as the inversion taking part, the other bonus, well two really, was the lack of any wind and also how warm it was. It was more like summer than summer and everyone was just in a relaxed mood as we all enjoyed the perfect conditions. It really couldn't of been any better to be out here and instead of the mist rolling over the top of us taking away the splendid views, it was all happening beneath and out to our left, brilliant. Crib Goch seemed to be over in a flash and I was soon making my way up and over more scrambling that eventually takes you to the second highest summit, Garnedd Ugain/Crib-y-Ddysgl and from here you could see that the inversion had taken over most of Snowdonia but with the thickest cloud still in the South. A great sight as I hung about up here for a good twenty minutes soaking it in.
Start of Crib Goch
Moel Siabod and beyond from Crib Goch
Crib Goch
All clear ahead
Crib Goch
Crib Goch
North Ridge Crib Goch
My route along the North Ridge & Crib Goch
 Y Lliwedd & Snowdon
The Glyderau, Moel Siabod & Crib Goch
Y Llwiedd disappearing
Garned Ugain summit with Snowdon as the backdrop
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang :-)
Garned Ugain Summit
I moved off and joined the crowds making there way on and off Snowdon from the various routes and also the train. I think it was the last day the trains ran as the season comes and end and what a treat for the lucky few who choose this way up, surely one of the best of the year. To be fair there wasn't that many people, well not in Snowdon terms, at least you could get to the summit trig without queuing and also use the cafe & toilets without queuing and there was a few spare tables and that's saying something on a day like today. There was still all manner of folk up there including quite a few mountain bikers but it was a very relaxed summit and there was plenty of space to find a quite spot for a bite to eat while taking in the splendid views and what views! I've been up here in brilliant clear sunshine with views for miles around, views as far as your hand in front of your face, getting blown over by the wind, snow and ice but this was a first inversion that just seemed to close in at the right time and open up again as I made my way off. It was also still warm and very still which seemed to make the place eerily quiet despite folk milling about. Fantastic!
On my way to join the crowds
Y Llwiedd getting swallowed up
Looking back on my route so far
Full inversion in the Snowdon bowl
View from my lunch spot on Snowdon
View down the South Ridge from my lunch spot
Clouds retreating from Llwiedd
Mountain bikers on Snowdon
I made my way off and headed down the Pyg Track. The inversion was still going on and on the odd occasion looked like it was going to swallow everything up but in reality it was just dispersing and only a light mist rolled in and out. I had made up my mind that I would descend to the car park by way of The Horn as it breaks up the trudge of the Pyg Track and offers some splendid views right to the end and with it being such a good day it seemed the perfect way to finish off. It's also less strain on my knees as the ground is more soft than the rocky and slab paved descent path! 
View down to the Pyg Track
Pyg Track marker stone
Inversion still hanging on over Glaslyn
Glaslyn reveals itself
Then disappears again
Cloud creeping along the Pyg Track below Crib Goch

All becoming clear as I make my way on to the horn
View towards Moel Siabod from the horn
All clear from the horn
My way forward along the horn
One last look back at the Snowdon Horeshoe from the horn
Pen y Pass car park with the Glyders as the backdrop

I was back at the car about 3,30pm so just short of eight hours taking in the awesome views this day had to offer. Excellent :-)

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