A couple of weeks ago Dave and I visited Snowdonia for a long weekend along with 23 other friends and friend of friends. Our home for the weekend was the magical eco-village of Cae Mabon. Nestled away in oak woodland, seven beautiful hand built dwellings constructed from reclaimed and sustainable materials, centre around a thatched roundhouse. To see photographs of the village and read about our stay, check out this blog post.
Our main expedition was a hike to the summit of Snowdon on the Saturday. With 25 people making up our group, all with varying levels of ability and a toddler on my brother-in-law’s back, the Llanberis Path was the safest route to take. It’s the easiest ascent and doesn’t have any steep sections and doesn’t require any scrambling. Some of us planned to leave the main group and descend via a steeper, more challenging route, but the ground snow and poor visibility forced us to abandon these plans.
On the edge of Llanberis this gate marks the start of the path that leads to the summit. The path is reinforced and easy going but the gentle, consistent incline was enough to get me breathing heavily from the start.
The sky was blue and the temperature was pleasant for the speed we were going. From the path the surrounding mountains looked soft and calm in the still air but in reality they are anything but. As we gained altitude the temperature dropped and the winds picked up.
Kiteshack kindly set Dave and I Buffs especially of Snowdon hike. I chose a Hoodie Thermal Buff which, effectively, is two Buffs attached together; one thick and very soft hood with a second thin Buff on the inside for covering the neck and can be lifted to cover the mouth and nose. The draw strings make the hat part adjustable and I tightened it as the wind picked up. I am super pleased with how well it kept all the normally exposed body parts-head, neck, mouth, nose- lovely and warm.
Dave chose a Polar Buff which has a fleecy layer within the normal fabric. His camouflage colouring will be great for when we are shooting as it will keep half of his face camouflaged. When we climbed the snow-covered Cheviot in Northumberland at Christmas Dave suffered from the cold. With his neck and ears covered he felt much warmer on Snowdon thanks to his Buff.
This is Bertie, a one year old Cocker Spaniel belonging to our friends Sara and Tom. One of the last times we were on a walk with him he had to hitch a ride in Sara’s rucksack because his little puppy legs were worn out after a mile or so. Now he’s climbed the highest peak in Wales!
The snow line was as dramatic in real life as in this photograph. One minute we were walking on a clear path and the next we were treading carefully in snow. Looking on ahead we saw other walkers struggling on the deeper, icier snow on the higher ground. Like many others, we chose to follow the train track for the mountain train when it crossed over other path on which we walked. The tracks provided better footing and felt safer. The snow wasn’t deep but it was slippy from the hundreds of people who has stepped on before us that day.
The path was busy with walkers sporting adequate gear but in contrast we saw many people dressed in casual clothes which would provide no protection at all if the weather closed in. Most of these people didn’t carry bags either so presumably they had no fluids either. Just before the snowline we passes a man in his late 20s wearing work trousers and shoes! I doubt he would have gone on much further. When researching the walk I read many other witness accounts of people attempting the hike without the adequate gear but it was more shocking when I saw it in person. Sometime Dave and I would snigger as we passed poorly dressed people where as other times we just glanced at each other with shocked faces.
Our typical embarrassing couple pose we do for the camera. For some reason Dave looks like some sort of extraterrestrial or scarecrow gone wrong.
In this photo the Llanberis path can be seen running parallel to the train track on which we walked as we came closer to the summit. As it got colder I put off getting out my phone to take photos. Taking my gloves off was fiddly because the ends of my fingers were tingling from the cold. Getting the gloves back on again was even harder. After reaching the summit and capturing some terrible shots of my wind-stricken face I left the camera in my pocket for the rest of the expedition.
Here, bodies can be just made out on the ridge on the right, heading to the summit. The summit itself was in fog. If it wasn’t for the bustle of the crowds it would have been an eerie place to be, but the magic was quite far removed from the experience. I knew it would be busy so my expectations weren’t diminished. The buzz from the crowds lured me into a false sense of security on the mountain. Mountains can be very dangerous and I am always conscious of this fact but having so many people around me subconsciously settled my mind.
The decent inevitably felt colder and the group had dispersed into smaller groups so we picked up our pace to get past the snow. Once back on dry ground we took the time to take in the stunning views across Snowdonia before celebrating our accomplishment the way any walking accomplishment should be celebrated; in the pub.