HILL, DALES AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon    Web page by Bryan Benn

Start at Rhyd Ddu, Finish nr Rangers Station

Highest Point: Snowdon Summit, 1085m

Distance: circa 14 kms

Weather: Cool, sun, icy snow high up

Vertical altitude gain: circa 1050 m

Time: 8 hrs

 My previous visits to Snowdonia had seen me well and truly hooked on the superb walking the area offered. So it was no surprise that I was back there again, and with the prospect of some wintry weather higher up as I left Rhyd Ddu for a walk up Snowdon via Bwlch-Cwm Lan and the South Ridge route.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Moel Hebog, Moel y Orgof and Moel Lefn

It looked like it could be a superb day with the low December sun starting to rise over the "Three Moels". Moel Hebog, Moel Y Orgof and Moel Lefn.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. continued Moel Hebog

My route was to use the Rhyd Ddu path for a while and that gave lovely views to one side. Here a close up of Moel Hebog with a plume of cloud gently flowing off in the light breeze that was to get no stronger as the day wore on.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Mynydd Mawr from Rhyd Ddu path to Snowdon

It wasn't just Moel Hebog with a cloudy top! Mynydd Mawr, around to the North West and cloured by the rising sun also had a large cloud over it's summit.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont.

South Ridge Route to Snowdon South Ridge Route to Snowdon South Ridge Route to Snowdon South Ridge Route to Snowdon

The route I was on soon left the Rhyd Ddu path and headed in the general direction of Yr Aran on a well defined track. No doubt because it must have once served the disused slate quarries I encountered not far from the base of Snowdon's South Ridge.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Y Lliwedd from Bwlch-Cwm Lan

I reached Bwlch-Cwn Lan, a small shoulder between the bottom of Snowdon's South Ridge and the start of the final climb up to Yr Aran. Looking East from there gave a super view up to the twin main peaks of Y Lliwedd.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Lower parts of Watkin path from  Bwlch-Cwm Lan

The same location at Bwlch-Cwm lan gave a view down the valley along which the lower parts of the Watkin Path to Snowdon snaked.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont.

South Ridge Route to Snowdon South Ridge Route to Snowdon

Then I was onto the track that followed Snowdon's South Ridge. I'd come down it a couple of weeks before and new it was going to be long steep slog up to and beyond the snow line before I would reach the mountain summit.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. continued South Ridge Route to Snowdon

It wasn't long before I had a view high above me of the snow capped summit of Snowdon, (right) as well as the equally snowy start of the partly exposed top ridge of the route I was on, (left).

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. View West from South Ridge Route to Snowdon

It was a stunning day and still cold. With a superb view to the West from the steep track. Looking over a frozen lake and mountains standing out clearly in the lovely winter sunshine.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont.

South Ridge Route to Snowdon South Ridge Route to Snowdon

The upwards climb and hard work continued over sometimes very rocky terrain that needed me to use my hands from time to time.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon and South Ridge

But it seemed every bit of extra effort on the steeper rocky sections was rewarded with an even better view of Snowdon, (right), and the South Ridge.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont.

South Ridge Route to Snowdon View of Y Lliwedd from South Ridge Route to Snowdon

The climb up continued, at one point with the rocks by the path framing a view across to Y Lliwedd

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. View from South Ridge route to top end of Watkin Path with Grib Goch behind

As height was gained further peaks came into view. Here the view is across Cwm Tregelan and the top end of the Watkin Path, with Grib Goch standing out behind.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge and Summit

As height was gained I crossed the snow line onto quite hard packed and icy snow. With the start of the South Ridge proper looking like a seperate summit from that of Snowdon, (right).

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. View West from near Snowdon South Ridge

Pausing on the steep and slippery surface gave the benefit of a super view to the West.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Y Lliwedd from Snowdon South Ridge

Y Lliwedd was a very distinctive landmark for much of the ascent.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge in winter

The final metres up to the start of the South Ridge. I should have stopped here to put on crampons and get my ice axe out. But I didn't, and that was to cause me a problem very soon!

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge in winter

Onto the narrow track on the South Ridge, (bottom of photo to the left), and I felt uneasy on the slippery surface, so I sat down to ease acrosss one section! With my crampons on I would not have needed to have done that.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge in winter

Sitting down was not good! My vertigo kicked in leaving me nowhere to put my hands to get up again, and no where to get my rucksac off, (for crampons and ice axe). So I slid and then crawled my way across the exposed section!

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge Route

The rest of the path was still not easy in the conditions!

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge route

I had to take a lot of care over quite a considerable length of the South Ridge proper.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge route

From time to time I stopped and looked behind me at the ridge I was crossing. And the lovely sun and snow gave a superb view back from where I had come.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge Route

The snow was not that deep here, but it was well frozen giving a potentially very slippery surface to tread carefully over. Care was still needed!

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Y Lliwedd seen from Snowdon South Ridge Route

From time to time small amounts of cloud formed in the valley below and blew up to summit height. Here just below the top of Y Lliwedd.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Snowdon South Ridge Route

The route up continues on this superb day for winter walking.

6th December 2008: South Ridge Route to Snowdon cont. Walkers struggling over a wintry Snowdon South Ridge

Another look back at my route. At the most difficult part where the Rhyd Ddu path joined the South Ridge route. Causing these walkers considerable difficulty at a point where I know a number turned back during the day.