Thursday, 12 June 2014

Conquering Yr Wyddfa

Hiking has always been an adventure I longed to experience. Given my ankle, knee and shoulder injuries and poor fitness in the past, I had shelved hiking right to the back of my priority list. Inspired by Phil Keoghan’s No Opportunity Wasted concept, hiking was moved back right to the front and Snowdon became my very first hiking experience. Together with Christine, it was an amazingly breathtaking (pun intended) hike.

Situated in Snowdonia National Park, Snowdon stands tall at 1085m. There are various tracks to the summit of Snowdon and we opted for PYG track for our ascent and the Llanberis Path for our descent. Setting off from our base in the village of Llanberis, the Sherpa bus took us to the carpark of Pen-Y-Pass where the PYG and Miner Track begin. With an elevation of around 300m from Pen-Y-Pass, there was much less height to climb.

Thrilled to start off the hike from PYG Track
The date was 3rd June 2014 and the weather forecast was positive with a 80% chance of a clear summit.

Starting off the PYG track and the first 10 minutes were made up of mostly gravel paths and sturdy steps made from rocks. The beginning was great and our energy level was sky rocketing. Thinking that most of the path would continue to be of similar difficulty was probably my most naive thought. The path gradually becomes difficult with high steps and quite a bit of scrambling were needed. With steps higher than my knee most of the time, it took my short legs almost double the effort compared to my friend and all those tall angmohs.

An hour plus into the hike, we had our first glimpse of Llyn Llydaw and Miners Track
Breathtaking Llyn Llydaw
Climbing further for over an hour, the breathtaking view of Llyn Llydaw and the causeway in the Miners Track came to view. Meeting a family of four who seemed seasoned with the path, much to our delight, we were told that the top of the summit was no more than 90 minutes away. Resuming our ascent after a short water and photo break, we climbed further and came to the intersection to Crib Goch (the scary knife ridge which require serious mountaineering skills). Kept left correctly for Snowdon summit but then the real fright begun.


The path curved by the slope of the mountain and after some scrambling, we were lost in the midst of piles of rocks which none look like a worn path by hikers. Keeping close to the mountain for a further 5 minutes and yet there was no apparent path. It was almost immediately the thought of “SHIT WE ARE LOST” came into my head and I succumbed into panic mode. Getting lost on the mountain was the last thing I wished for. Christine on the other hand was actually amused by my panic attack and kept her composure, convincing me to continue climbing until we find the path. We turned into quite an amusing bickering pair about where to go; with one wanting to stay put until we find the right direction and another wanting to charge ahead knowing the path will come into our way somehow.

One thing we knew was the direction towards the path but it was still horrifying because our sight could only see up to the top of the nearest slope ahead of us and we had no idea what is ahead after the slope. And off we scrambled our way up and down a slope and another and another. With every step I took, I was muttering prayers every second, praying that the PYG track came back into our sight. After almost 30 minutes, prayers were answered and the PYG track came into sight. Being on the top of the slope, we had to make our way back down to the track. My pair of walking poles were amazing life savers to help us back down to the track from the slippery grass slope.

Back on track - the gentler path on the hike

Back on the track, it was time for a break to calm my nerves. Absorbed into the views of Llyn Glaslyn, it was a perfect spot for a break. The final stage of the climb after joining in with the Miners Track were much more tiring with high steps and steep ascent. At the intersection, we continued up the zigzag path which is actually just a zig and a zag. Together with a group of four English aunties and uncle in their late 50s or early 60s, we ascend up to the summit, joining with Llanberis path for a final 100m climb along the rail tracks.

Back onto the PYG track, posing for an artsy photo is a must. LOL

Climbing further away from Llyn Glaslyn, looking back and the view is amazing
Panaroma from the meeting point of Llanberis Path, Miners Track and PYG Track
Caught a Snowdon Mountain Railway passing by
Anyone who would love to head up the summit but isn't keen on torturing their legs can hop onto the mountain railway and be transported right to the door of the summit cafe
The clouds and mist in the final 100m stretch to the summit
After a cloudy and misty period, the sky cleared slightly for a better view from the Trig Point
Standing tall at the Trig Point on Snowdon Summit

Together with the group of four we met along the way, we headed onto the Llanberis Path and took a stroll back to the village of Llanberis. Much of the path had a gentle slope but was filled with lose rocks making it difficult to walk on. Going down was definitely harder on my knees. Coupled with exhaustion from the ascent, my poor knees were whining about a path which seem to take an eternity to end. After an hour, our older English friends headed off ahead of us. It’s embarassing that I was probably too slow for them.
Llanberis Path
Coming to the halfway house, half the journey down was completed and the remaining path was gravel path with little incline. Along the way, we were entertained by the symphony of sheep calling out to each other. Reaching the end of the path, a long winding tarmac road was awaiting to lead us back to Llanberis.

Mehhhh Mehhhhh Mehhhh all the way

End of the hike with all limbs still attached

Heading back to Llanberis, there’s nothing more satisfying than a good meal. Well, I would have given everything for a bowl of piping hot wanton noodles but being the countryside of Wales, I had to settle for chicken pie instead.

The ascent and descent to the summit of Snowdon took us about 7 hours excluding our long break in the summit. Despite the aching muscles and blisters, conquering Snowdon was a great satisfaction. There’s nothing more satisfying than successfully pushing through mental and physical limits.

Finally, my greatest gratitude to Adilah for answering my crazy amount of questions about the hike and the path, the weather and everything there is possibly to ask. 

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