The mountains of Snowdonia are more than just a playground. Some also come here to train for the bigger ranges, the best known example being the members of the successful 1953 Everest expedition – they even found time to write their names on the ceiling of the bar in the Pen y Gwryd Hotel, where the signatures can still be seen. If Snowdonia was good enough for the 1953 team, it was also good enough for Clare and Sarah!
Clare and Sarah are also off to Everest in October this year, but on a more modest fund-raising trek to the base camp. However, the trek is far from being a ‘walk in the park’, so they had booked a couple of days with me, walking the hills of Snowdonia in preparation. As they had never been here before I thought that Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) was a must – if you’re going for a big walk it might as well be up the biggest mountain in Wales.
The last time I went to the summit of Yr Wyddfa I was with Ian and Barney (#39). We had followed the Rhyd Ddu path as a quieter alternative, but for Clare and Sarah I had suggested the PYG Track and Miners Track on the grounds that the views were better and the route was probably no more crowded than the Everest trek. Well, the views would have been better without the mist!
From Pen y Pass the route heads upwards, and the conversation waned on some of the steeper bits. The second section feels almost level in comparison, though it is still gaining height. The third section beyond the junction with the Miners Track gets steeper again, and includes a couple of zig-zags before easing in angle for the final section up to the summit.
Photos were taken at the summit, ‘cos that’s what you do on a mountain be it Everest or Yr Wyddfa. Clare and Sarah then checked out the ‘Hafod Eryri’ visitor centre while Border Collie ‘Mist’ checked out the contents of my sandwiches. That being done, it was time to return. The view for Clare and Sarah was the inside of a cloud, but as we lost height the visibility improved on the descent to Glaslyn via the Miners Track.
We took the Miners Track for our return, on the grounds that a change is as good as a rest. By the time we reached the small lake of Glaslyn, Clare and Sarah were certainly ready for a rest! This was their first real mountain, and a 1085 metre mountain was beginning to feel like a big day out.
After a break it was off again, following the track down by the lake of Llyn Llydaw, our progress being monitored by a small herd of wild goats. It had clearly been a long day for Clare and Sarah, but they had both put in a massive effort and arrived back at Pen y Pass in good style. They were, however, perhaps a little apprehensive as to what treat I had in store for the next day ….
p.s. Bad weather and aching muscles don’t get in the way of a training walk – come back next week to see what Day 2 had in store.
Mount Everest Image © Pavel Novak and used under Creative Commons Licence
Text and all other images © Paul Shorrock