HILL, DALES AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

8th March 2009: Pyg track to Snowdon    Web page by Bryan Benn

Start: Pen y Pass car park

Highest Point: summit of Snowdon 1085m

Distance: circa 15km

Weather: Severe winter conditions high up

Vertical altitude gain: circa 800m

Time: 8 hrs

Pyg Track  to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

Saturday was mild and wet, but the forecast for Sunday was weather I love: at 900m, 40-50 mph winds, gusting to 75 mph. Minus 4 C and some blizzard conditions. (warning: Do NOT walk in such weather, it can be very dangerous, and remember the disclaimer applies to every page of this web site) . So I chose the Pyg track so as to only meet the very high wind near the top.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

There were snow flurries right from the start in the Pen y Pass car park, although it was not laying as I got going on the Pyg track. With a number of steeper sections right at the start.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

The track levels off as it goes along above Llyn Llydaw.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

After passing along most of the lake below the Pyg track starts to climb again. At about the point the snow was laying.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

As I progressed a Sea King Search and Recue helicopter pulled about above me, and just about parallel to me.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

With great speed the Sea KIng got into position, and the rescuer went down on the wire to pick up a climber stranded on the rocks leading up to Grib Coch. I was told later that the climber was, thankfully, uninjured.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

I was gaining height quite fast now as the smaller Llyn Glaslyn came into view below me. With a good number of other walkers passing me, as my speed is normally the slowest on any mountain ascent.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

Ahead of me the Pyg track is clearly seen as it hugs the side of the mountain, still below the main snow line.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

The snow started again in a strong wind as I drew level with Lyn Glaslyn below me.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

And then I reached the snow line. Hard packed and frozen icy snow! So it was on with crampons immediately. And not long after those walkers who had earlier overtaken me started to come back: having been turned back by conditions they were not prepared for.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

On most ledges the frozen snow and ice angled down towards the drop on the left. Making me take care with how I placed my feet to make sure my crampon spikes broke right though the crusty and very slippery surface,

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

The trickiest part of the ascent was just onto this next piece of ledge. A very steep drop to the left and very icy conditions to walk on.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

These four guys coming down from the summit ridge were really struggling to get down onto the ledge.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

And this guy was the last of a few more whose leader had told them, "ten metres of hell coming up". Hell I guess because they were not properly equipped for the very icy conditions.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

Onto the summit ridge and the ferocious wind was blowing crossways, with frequent heavy snow showers adding to the wintry experience. And I just loved it!

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

And so to the summit. For the seventh time in winter 2008/9. And due to the high wind and blowing snow showers my shortest. Just a few seconds!

Pyg Track to Snowdon

Pyg Track  to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

I got back down a few metres and sat in front of a wall near the station to have a drink and a small amount of food. Viewing the summit through my trusty Grivel 12 point crampons which were the main reason I had made the summit.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

Visibility was worsening and the summit area was becoming empty of other walkers! So I decided that, rather than risk getting lost going down the Pyg track, I would decend by the Llanberis track.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

It was not until just above Clogwyn statiion that I came out of the cloud base. From high winds and snow with hard packed ice and snow underfoot, into much calmer and easier walking conditions.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

To my left were the cliffs of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, with the small lake in front of them.

Pyg Track to Snowdon Pyg Track  to Snowdon

And to my right was a view across to the Glyders. I pushed on down. Took tea at the ever welcoming tea rooms towards the end of the track, then caught a taxi back up to my car at Pen y Pass.