~The Snowdon Horseshoe~
5th August 2012
There are some fellwalks that will hold in the participant's memory for ever. This is one of them!
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
Pen-y-Pass Car Park
I travelled 140 miles from home to the start point of Pen-Y-Pass. The weather forecast included a warning of "slow moving torrential thundery downpours", so I packed the cagoule, just in case one came our way. I'd been invited by Gary Jones to join his planned walk. Start time of 09:05hrs from the rather pricey car park - £10 for more then four hours - just how many folk venture forth from here and intend to return in less than four hours?
Pass of Llanberis
The Snowdon Horseshoe walk is not one for inexperienced mountaineers or those with a particular fear of heights. There are alternative car parks between Llanberis and Pen-y-Pass and a bus service brings walkers up to the head of the valley.
Pyg Track to Crib Goch
The Pyg Track is a popular walkers' route up Snowdon. We use the same path to reach a col at the foot of Crib Goch, our first mountain target, seen here (just) in the clouds.
On the Pyg Track
We are a party of nine, no dogs, two seagulls. I'd never met any of these folk before. My dad liked the saying "you can judge a man by his shoes"; in these circles you can judge a fellwalker by their kit. If it's all the latest stuff and shows little sign of wear, they're not too serious about it. If, however, you spot noticeable boot wear, slightly tatty rucksacs and worn trousers maybe with holes in, then you know you're in good company. I'll be OK.
The Ascent of Crib Goch
Whilst the fame of Crib Goch comes from the summit ridge walk, the climb up to the ridge is fantastic. You need both hands and both feet and a few other bits besides.
Looking Back Down
Crib Goch Views
Our final peak of the horseshoe, all being well, will be Y Lliwedd, twin peaks visible through the cloud across Llyn Llydaw. Enjoy the following views of the ridge walk....
Crib Goch 3028ft - no summit cairn!!
There is no margin for error. If you were to fall off to the right, that shortfall on your pension plan becomes irrelevant. If you slip to the left then you have a better, but not guaranteed, chance of surviving. Intrepid ridge walkers tend to walk just to the left and use the top of the ridge as a handrail. There is no overtaking and it's pretty much a one-way route.
Another Walker Follows Us
The leading three find somewhere to rest and the second photo gives you some idea of the work required to get there. I'm beginning to remember the names. John, Paul and Anna are resting, Jane is climbing and one of our seagulls is keeping guard.
The Other Eight
I asked for smiles and a show of hands in the appeal to find anyone who could thought my website was ace, thanks Jeanette!
The walk proceeds to Crib-y-Ddysgl (left) and a view of Snowdon (right) suggests that we might have a cloud-free summit.
A rare glimpse of Llyn Peris. The colour is a rainbow effect, but if I know my facts - and this is debatable, the angle of the sun was too high. So could it be reflected rays from the lake causing the dispersion of colour?
Mo and Jessica
We brought along two gulls to keep us company, feeding them odd scraps and jelly babies.
Two minutes earlier I took a photo of the same scene and there was no encroaching cloud, it shows how quickly the mountain environment can change. A little later we heard rumbles of thunder!
Glaslyn and Snowdon
Crib-y-Ddysgl Summit 3494ft
Into The Rain on Snowdon
Snowdon Mountain Railway
The cafe is here because of the railway; the railway makes Snowdon unique in this part of the world. I felt sorry for the passengers - they have to book in advance, a family of four will spend nearly £100 by the time they've finished. For some, it poured down for the duration of their stay. Conversely, what can the railway do about the weather? Some folk cannot walk to the top of a mountain, this is a great way for them to experience what we take for granted Besides, I like trains.
All Seats Taken
Well, we hadn't come all this way not to reach the top. We waited until the rain eased a little and then summited this fine mountain. Great place to camp!
Summiteering on Snowdon 3560ft
I was wondering if the rockfall daming soggy Cwn Tregalan could be a "protalus rampart", but it might be nothing more exciting than a morraine ridge. Try Peter Wilson: "Lake District Mountain Landforms". This is, however, in Wales.
To Y Lliwedd
The rain has all but ceased and we are heading for the lofty peak of Y Lliwedd.
Gary is a keen photographer and a link to his website is at the foot of the page.
Still with Us
I definately prefer climbing up, to the steep descent that was to follow. Fall up, slight loss of dignity and a sore hand; fall down and anything could happen - note to self: take poles next time.
Y Lliwedd Summit Territory 2946ft
Llyn Llydaw and Crib Goch
One benefit of the low pressure system currently supplying our weather has been the huge diversity of big cloud shapes. This one has a large head and two bulky arms ready to come and get us!
We are carefully picking a way down over steep and slippery rocks.
Welsh Mountain Goats
The walk back to the car park goes around the back of Llyn Teyrn and follows the contours to the starting point.
Blimey, that was a good one! I hope to add accurate data in regard of feet of ascent, as soon as I have it.
Walkers: In no particular order...Gary, Sharon, Paul, John, Kenny, Jane, Anna, Jeanette and me.
Time taken: 8hrs 30mins over a distance of about 7 miles.
Route: The Snowdon Horseshoe as described and as per Trekking Britain's useful webpage.
Weather and Conditions: Misty / sunny start, followed by very high humidity and heavy rain. Brightening and warming up to make a very pleasant afternoon.
Greetings Count: Off the scale. Don't come here for the quiet contemplation of life's troubles.
Richard's Refreshment Review: Hafod Eryri is the cafe at the top of Snowdon. Fast service and a broad selection of hot and cold drinks - it relies on the rail service for supplies and staff, hence it won't be open during winter months. Impossible to evaluate normal criteria, such as toasties and do they offer extra water with tea, due to overcrowding.
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2012 ©