Winter in Eryri
The weekend of the 9th of December 2022 saw the big freeze, the coldest weather the UK had experienced for 12 years, with temperatures reaching as low as -3°C across the county of Caernarfonshire. In the hope of climbing Wales' tallest mountain and spending some time in Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri, a few members of the AiC team endured what felt like an eternal car journey from Devon to North Wales to explore Yr Wyddfa, the nature reserve and the National Park.
(In a decision to help preserve place names that have an innate connection to the Welsh landscape, to deep rooted local mythology and to the country’s language and culture, we have chosen to use Snowdon’s original name of Yr Wyddfa.)
This trip marks two years to the day since we had first attempted the walk up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa but had to turn back near the top due to wintery conditions that we weren't prepared for. In the hope of making it to the top this time, we headed to Plas Y Brenin Outdoor Centre in Capel Curig where we hired crampons and an ice axe as recommended by the BMC (British Mountaineering Council). Located just an eight minute drive from Pen y Pass car park, where you start the walk, which makes for a great place to hire a range of outdoor equipment for use in the National Park. The friendly man who rented us our crampons gave us advice on the walk, told us not to get ‘mashed and mangled’ or ‘take any flyers’ and sent us on our way. Feeling less confident than when we entered, we left and headed to Pen y Pass where we started the walk.
Blessed with clear blue skies and a group of good friends, we walked up the miners track past Llyn Llydaw in what felt like alpine conditions. The sun was shining, we were surrounded by snow covered peaks, birds of prey flew above us and at this point we were feeling fresh and floating towards the summit.
That was until we reached the second lake, Llyn Glaslyn. Heavy snow started and the mist drew in, so we got our crampons on and started the steep section up to the summit. We had been told that this stretch was the most dangerous part of the walk in winter and at this point the poor visibility and snow made the path less obvious, which in turn made the conditions feel relatively serious. It only felt right that as Jay was the oldest and had the least to lose, he would lead the pack through the ‘accident blackspot’ to the safety of the summit. We emerged through the zigzag section and joined the rangers path where we faced strong icy winds which felt as though they were forcing us back down the mountain.
Frozen hair and a crushed toe later we pushed our way to the summit as a pack of broken men. We arrived at the top to find we had been triumphed by numerous seagulls who proceeded to try and steal the sandwiches that had been crushed in our accompanying Klättermusen rucksack. Proud that we’d made it to the top during the coldest week of the year, we hobbled back down through harsh conditions, arriving at the car park in the dark. We tumbled into the car and made our way down the icy Llanberis Pass at 3mph where we eventually made it back to the warmth of our Airbnb located in the lakeside village of Llanberis, nestled at the foot of Yr Wyddfa.
For further bouldering suggestions, check out our detailed North Wales Spot Guide here: North Wales Spot Guide | Always in Colour. Featuring some of the National Park’s most favoured mountaineering, climbing and coffee spots.
In case you missed it, take a read of our first Always in Colour community climbing event here: Always in Colour Community Climb
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