Scaling Wales’ Highest Mountain
Britain isn’t famous for its hiking but one mountain every climber should summit is Mt. Snowdon for extreme weather and breathtaking views.
Howling winds and driving rain is a regular forecast for Wales’ highest peak: Mt Snowdon. Explorers wishing to tackle the peak can expect to scramble up near-vertical crags, traverse old mines, and skirt round the edges of lake Llyn Llydaw.
Britain isn’t famous for its hiking but one mountain every climber should summit is Mt Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, the highest peak in Wales. At 1,085m (3,560ft) tall, it's set in the breathtakingly beautiful Snowdonia National Park and hikers can choose from a number of routes depending on how adventurous they’re feeling. There’s even a train to take non-hikers straight to the top, but where’s the adventure in that?
Climbing Snowdon in the summer can mean battling the crowds, so it’s best to go in the cooler months, or, if you’re really brave, the winter.
Gale force winds up to 100mph, freezing temperatures, driving rain, blizzards, thick fog, and even snow makes scrambling up the rocky face even more challenging.
In winter, snow and ice can cover the paths, and visibility is poor, making navigation tricky. An ice axe and crampons are necessities, as is insulated and waterproof clothing and knowledge of how to use a map and compass. But if you do choose to test yourself and hike in the winter and you time the conditions right, the views are stunning. Previously named the best view in Britain, the sight from the summit in winter is spectacular to behold.
Gaze down to Cwm Dyli where the lakes of Glaslyn and Llydaw shimmer in the winter sun, with the Pyg Track and Miners Track blanketed in snow on your left. Straight ahead, the ridges and summits of Crib Goch, Crib-y-Ddysgl, and Y Lliwedd, which make up the iconic Snowdon Horseshoe, are cloaked in mist and the landscape is eerily quiet.
There are numerous paths to the summit. The gentle Llanberis Path which is the easiest but also the longest at nine miles. It follows the Snowdon Mountain Railway up to the summit. Although it’s not the prettiest, it’s perfect for beginner adventurers.
Pyg Track is a good moderate hike, passing the beautiful Llyn Llydaw lake, and the entrance to the notoriously difficult Crib Goch route. The iconic latter path is known as an “arête”, a knife-edge ridge only for those with experience, nerves of steel, and no fear of heights. It’s very exposed, so shouldn’t be attempted in high winds, and it’s classed as a Grade 1 scramble. The black spot deserves to be treated with respect.
Not only is Snowdon the British adventurer’s paradise, but its secrets are part of the mountain’s captivating magic. The Snowdon Lily, which can only be found in a small handful of locations across the UK, can be found on the mountains, so keep your eyes peeled for the Arctic-alphine white flowering plant. For those intrigued by Arthurian tales, legend has it that the thin, snaking, Llyn Llydaw lake is allegedly the lake which the Lady of the Lake lived in and where King Arthur retrieved Excalibur.
Mt. Snowdon isn’t quite Everest, but if it was good enough for Edmund Hillary to climb as part of his training, it’s good enough for us.