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Snowdonia Peaks

Friday, 29 December 2017

A Snowy Snowdon 27-12-2017

Well what can I say about this but another Epic walk in the snow. The pre-Christmas walk in the lakes was a fantastic journey that I thought would be hard to beat as 2017 comes to an end but this post-Christmas walk was one to match it for sure. Two walks in snow with different conditions but with the same amount of enjoyment and again excellent company from the WFP group. A dozen of us met at the car park at Ryhd Ddu and set off walking at about 8.45am, in bright but cold weather. The plan was to ascend by the Ryhd Ddu path and descend by the South Ridge. It's only the second time I have done this route but I have done it a few times in the opposite direction, as well as using the South Ridge as an extension to Yr Aran, and it's a great way up and down Snowdon. The path is a good well trodden path but quite muddy and rough after the recent rain and snow fall. It is also quite rugged as it starts to climb steadily but offers some great views, both in-front and behind as we made our way to the path junction where if you carry straight on, it will take you to the disused quarry at Bwlch Cwm Llan, and the path to the South Ridge. We turned left here following the Rhydd Ddu path at a steady climb towards the zig-zags and the hole in the wall at LLechog. With the weather being quite clear at the start, it soon warmed up and hat, gloves and coats were being removed as we all enjoyed the warming feeling after the initial cool start. Excellent views back to the mountains of the Hebog range, Nantile Ridge & the Moel Elio group, all looking quite spring like, with only the highest points having a sprinkling of snow amongst all the greenery. Good views back to the coast and even Snowdon summit showed it's white topped cafe on occasions. All was looking and feeling good :-)
Our route for the day
A snow capped Snowdon just peaking out
Mynydd Mawr left, Moel Elio right, Llyn Cwellyn centre
Snowy Snowdon ahead
Our descent route distant left with Yr Aran on the right
Looking back to the Hebog and Nantile Ridge groups
Good progress was made at a steady pace with photo stops and regroups along the way, we soon started to hit the first bits of thinly snow and ice that was more like slush as the sun got to work on it. It was only when we started to get in to the proper snowline that the temperature started to drop and also the wind started coming on a bit more. The clear views that we all enjoyed were also disappearing as the clouds started to roll in off the coast but thankfully seemed to be staying away from our direction, as was the snow/rain that seemed to be mixed in with the clouds. Would it stay that way??
The snowline at the Llechog Ridge
A distantWelsh Highland Railway going through Ryhd Ddu
Hitting the snowline

We got to the "Hole in the Wall" where it was a good idea to put spikes on as the snow and ice was getting a bit more serious now and it gave us that extra security. Coats, hats & gloves were also on as the wind had now picked up and had quite a bite to it. The clouds had rolled in and with it we had a few snow flurries but thankfully no big whiteouts, we could at least keep an eye on each other and also the route ahead of us which is always a good thing. The snow on the zig-zag part was a good few inches deep in places and the ice on the rocks and fence-line made it quite arctic like in places, especially when the wind whipped up the snow.
Looking down onto the icy Cwm Clogwyn wall
Approaching the "Hole in the Wall"
Clouds rolling in over Southern Snowdonia
Looking across to the Moel Elio group
Clouds rolling in
Clouds rolling in
It's Snowing! :-)

As we made our way from here the weather deteriorated with low cloud, snow and wind making it difficult to talk to yourself, let alone any of the others but we carried on, stopping and regrouping and taking in the winter wonderland of Snowdon. There was brief spells of silence out of the wind and also some views when the cloud opened up below us but for the most part it was a monochrome world and it was ace :-) This part of the route is quite exposed and care needs to be taken sticking to the path as opposed to going straight over the ridge especially in this weather, as there are some steep drops on both sides. Having said that it is an excellent way with some mild scrambling thrown in
Nothing to see down there!!
A snowy Bwlch Main
A monochrome Bwlch Main
Here comes the view
Cwm Clogwyn opens up
Nearing the summit
Icy summit cafe

We reached the summit and took shelter, along with a few other braves souls who had come out today, by the side of the summit cafe just as the snow came down quite heavy. Not proper flaky snow, more like balls of polystyrene mixed in with wind making it quite a wild lunch spot. That lasted for about fifteen minutes before it died down, the snow not the wind, so it was a mad dash to the summit trig for a photo shoot where the wind chill must of been around -10 or more. Not a place to hang around longer than five minutes but also a moment to take in as you only see an empty summit in the depths of winter. Quite the opposite to the height of summer when sometimes it's like queuing to get into some big sporting or music event, where you can wait ten minutes or more for your turn to "Touch the Trig"!!
Icy summit cafe
Icy summit cafe
WFP summit trig attack :-)
Looking down on the icy cafe from the summit trig
One for the album. The summit is all mine :-)
Icy, empty summit trig

As the Ryhd Ddu path and the South Ridge join a few hundred yards from the summit the initial descent is by the same way as the ascent, going back over Bwlch Main before heading in a more straight line as opposed to taking the right fork onto the Ryhd Ddu path. This route by Bwlch Main and the South Ridge is my personal favourite way up and off Snowdon, apart from Crib Goch but that's different territory all together and not for the faint hearted or inexperienced. It offers some excellent views of southern Snowdonia and at this time or year when the sun is low, some excellent views in winter :-) Two of the party headed back along the Ryhd Ddu path while the remaining ten had the joys of the South Ridge with the wind whipping the snow around and some fine views of the sun breaking though the clouds like someone was opening the curtains. Time seemed to standstill as we all stood in amazement taking it all in. I'm not sure the photo's and video really do it justice but it certainly made for a amazing descent down to the old quarry at Bwlch Cwm Llan
In to the mist
back along the ridge
Back along the ridge
Don't standstill too long :-)
Down the South Ridge
Let there be light
Let there be light
Sun beams over the Hebog Range
Sunbeams showing us the way home :-)
Whirlwind in the snow
Out of the arctic, into the spring
Yr Aran towers above the old quarry

We got to the wall where there's a cross roads of paths going in all directions. Our descent from the South Ridge that takes us through the old quarry and back to Ryhd Ddu, the path straight up to Yr Aran, and the path down into Cwn Llan that eventually joins the Watkins Path up Snowdon. We were now clear of all the snow and ice and also any major descent so we took a time out and re group before the relatively easy walk back  to the junction of the Ryhd Ddu path. Always an interesting walk through the quarry's with the spoil heaps, pits, inclines, tunnels and crumbling buildings showing how tough life must of been back in the day.
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry
Going through the old quarry with the sun going down behind the Hebog Range
The moon above Yr Aran
The sun and light was starting to disappear now and the path was quite muddy and boggy in places but at least it was an easy one to follow back to the car park. We eventually got back about 4.30pm so around seven hours on this most famous of mountains in the UK and what can only be described as a most fantastic day with a very mixed bag of winter weather. Thankfully, despite the snow, it wasn't wet, damp and cold that can ruin the best of days. Cold, yes, but with the right gear you didn't really notice and there was only a couple of times when the wind whipped the snow up that you had to shelter your eye's and face, apart from that, brilliant :-)
Sun going down behind Moel Hebog
Looking back to a snowy Yr Aran
The muddy rocky path back
Thanks Snowdon
We called in at the village pub for a de-breif and chat before going on our separate ways wishing everyone a good new year. Another brilliant day out on a snowy Snowdon with some excellent company. So it's thanks to, Sharon, Sioban, Sian, Yana, Steve, Jack, Alan, Max, Gareth, Stuart, and Tony who once again organised this great day.
Cheers :-)
Cheers and a very happy 2018 to one and all :-)

Video of the days adventure :-)