HILL, DALES AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, (Pyg track) - Llanberis    Web page by Bryan Benn

Start at Pen-y-Pass 375m finish at Llanberis 105m

Highest Point: Snowdon Summit, 1085m

Distance: circa 12kms

Weather: Dull cold, snow, wind sub zero

Vertical altitude gain: circa 750m

Time: 5 hrs 30 mins

Expecting some lying snow near the summit after a day's heavy rain in the valley on the Monday I set out early from Pen y Pass on the Pyg track to Snowdon.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

It was dull and cold at Pen y Pass as I started along the track, and the forecast for 900m was wind gusting to 65 mph, snow showers, minus 4 degrees C and poor visibility!

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont. continued

It was a fairly typical mountain track with some easier stretches, along with steeper sections over the rockier bits.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

I was expecting to pass two lakes on the way, the first being the larger Llyn Llydaw. With the snow capped Y Lliwedd and low cloud cover behind.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Near the lake the tracks diverged, with this one leading to the famous Grib Goch route to Snowdon.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

But I stayed on the Pyg track! Wisely deciding that if/when I can overcome vertigo my first attempt over Grib Goch needs to be on a still summers morning, not when it would be in the grip of winter as today!

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

The Pyg track climbed gently past the large lake, soon looking down on the causeway that the Miners Track crossed on it's way to join the Pyg track much closer to the summit of Snowdon.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

As I gained height I headed into lying snow and poorer visibility. The route was not always as clear as here, and in places I was finding it harder to know where the track lay under the snow.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Without being certain of the route I had reached the stage of deciding to turn back. But out of the gloom behind me came John and wife Sue: who were happy for me to tag along behind them.

9thDecember 2008:Beddgelert - Moel y Dyniewyd cont. continued South Ridge Route to Snowdon

So I trudged on up: here the track was still quite visible.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Snow depth varied. Sometimes leaving traces of the track. At other times knee deep with no sign of the track. But John, someone who has climbed European high peaks, seemed to know his stuff as we headed on.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

We went through a stretch with no sign of the track, with John sometimes going ahead a few metres before allowing us to join him. Several times we had to climb back up through very deep snow to what seemed to be the track.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Photos were not easy as we climbed the hardest section: I did now want to slow us down as John searched a route out, twice indicating we may have to turn back. But no. Both times saw him get us back onto the track!

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

It was with some relief as we got onto the final stretch of the Pyg track up to the summit ridge: albeit in deep snow with a severe and very icy wind blowing as we struggled uphill. But now me with crampons firmly on my boots!

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

With a slippery track and quite a steep drop to the left, all three of us kept to the deeper snow on the right of the track as we slogged up to the summit ridge in very bad weather conditions.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

We were all very pleased to have got up to the summit ridge where the track to the summit was very clear. Albeit in windchill conditions of circa minus 18 C.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Sue was first to the icy and windswept summit!

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

Followed not long after by John, the hero of the hour as far as I was concerned. No way could I have enjoyed such an exhilerating, (and sometimes frightening), climb without his expert leadership.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

John would not let us to stay on the deserted summit long. "Back via Llanberis", was his sensible instruction as a return via the Pyg track in those conditions would have been very hazardous.

9thDecember 2008: Pen-y-Pass - Snowdon, Pyg track), - Llanberis cont.

In those conditions the only sensible option was to follow the railway down until we left the snow line. That got us safely back to Llanberis, a hot cup of tea at the pathside cafe, and a taxi back to our cars at Pen y Pass!