On the 29th September 2018, Sam and I completed our Snowdon climb for the Voice for Asian Elephants Society.
Travelling to the mountain, we passed some amazing scenery as we contemplate the enormity of the task ahead. We were climbing a real mountain! I think it had well and truly sunk in now.
We look pretty chilled before we started trekking.
I know what you might be thinking, you’ve just read our information and realised that one of us was missing. So, what happened to Aimee? Aimee unfortunately broke her ankle just before we were meant to climb Snowdon but she will be doing it early next year, once the doctor has given her the go ahead. As for odds of completion, Aimee has walked up and down the Pyg Trail before, so we know she’ll be a star walker/climber. She is also the only one out of the three of us who is fit – haha!
The day of our trek.
Armed with flapjacks, Kendal mint cake, a tin foil blanket and a whistle, Sam and I left fully prepared to conquer our first mountain. We arrived at what we thought was the carpark for the easiest route. We thought we were prepared but we weren’t, as we later discovered. Instead, we trusted that some kind hiker/climber would point us to the right path, the easiest one.
Did that happen? Nooooo!
The lovely chap we bumped into said to take the Pyg Trail as it was the easiest one. As we walked along edges and ledges followed by an exhausting scramble, we were under no illusion that this was a hard route. In fact, some say, it is the second hardest route. Gee – thanks Mister. My friend and I don’t do gyms or exercise and we were stuck on the experienced climbers route, using our hands to scramble while the wind threatened to blow us to our death.
Check out some of the Pyg Trail photos.
The last bit of the climb.
Our faces! Sam looks far less frazzled than me.
Do we forgive the ‘helpful’ stranger?’
Given that we survived and made it to the summit, I can now say yes. It turned out to be the most exhilarating yet scariest trek of my life. I felt like we were teetering on the edge for a good chunk of this walk, not only that, it’s windy and misty up there. We didn’t just hike, we climbed, hands, footholes, the lot. I’ve seriously never been so scared in my life. Before this trek, I wasn’t at all scared of heights but now, it’s a different story.
But still, I’m so glad we took the hard route. This amazing and terrifying expedition will stay with me forever. Also, the kindness and encouragement shown by the other walkers was heartwarming. We met some lovely people of all abilities. The experienced climbers were more than happy to give guidance to the likes of Sam and I and I’m grateful for that.
What was at the top?
For those who wish to get there without exerting themselves, there is a train service. From what I saw, the people looked rather cramped but that’s the price you’d need to pay to have it easy. As we arrived, we saw the train through the dense cloud while the wind whipped around our faces. We pushed on with the promise of a large hot chocolate.
It’s only then I realised, all the people outside were making up the queue for refreshments and don’t get me started on the toilet queue. It took about fifteen minutes to finally get that hot chocolate and I had hoped to be able to sit while I drank it – no chance. The cafe was unbelievably overcrowded. One thing I did note was that some visitors took up valuable seating with their bags which angered me. We were exhausted and Sam had come over lightheaded. A five minute sit down would have been most welcome.
As this walk was for charity and I’m an author, I had to take one of my creations along. This will be auctioned at a charity dinner next year. The book took the journey with us. It may be slightly weathered, but it’s the only book I’m ever taking up a mountain again – I think. Hmm …
At last, someone told us the truth. ‘If you want easy, take the Llanberis Trek.’ They were right. Compared to the Pyg this was a doddle. A straightforward route with absolutely no chance of dropping off a mountain to your death. The biggest risk, as with any walk, is that of a broken or sprained ankle. The route is rocky and uneven all the way down and it’s just as uncomfortable as the Pyg Trek. It’s not scary though, and that’s all that mattered to me. One thing I will say, my toes were killing as my feet pushed downwards into the end of my walking boots. That was a killer.
A few photos of the walk down.
My feet were in agony after the eight hours of walking. My legs were stiff and no wonder, we walked approximately 18 kilometres, and over 28,000 steps, and none of it was on the flat.
Don’t underestimate this mountain, especially if you intend to take the harder routes. Sam and I didn’t train or improve our fitness at all. In preparation, I walked for a couple of hours up the Malverns (it did not compare) and Sam did the Squirrel Route on the Lickey Hills. What a pair of numpties! If we’d have taken the Llanberis Trail, this would have been fine, but not the Pyg.
Make sure your walking boots are well worn in and you’re prepared for hot and cold weather. Take food, plasters, water, a few first aid items and a hat and gloves, for when you reach the summit. It was a lovely day on the ground when we climbed but up there, it was like being on a cold and baron planet in outer space.
Enjoy it and take lots of photos. It’s amazing and you’ll want to remember it forever.
A bit of information about Snowdon.
It’s the highest mountain in Wales at 1085 meters above sea level. It feels high too, when you’re up there.
Thomas Johnson was the first person on record to have ever climbed Snowdon. This was in 1639.
Depending on which route you choose, it will take an average person 3-4 hours each way. The Llanberis Trail is longer but easier. The Pyg is a shorter route but is a hundred times more challenging.
If you’re walking up during the month of May, you may see the Snowdon lily.
As far as folklore goes, Snowdon’s summit is said to be a giant’s tomb and this giant’s name is Rhitta Gawr. With his coat made of men’s beards, he must have had a reputation that filled people with fear. As legend has it, he was killed by King Arthur.
I will never forget this walk. I had a lovely time pushing through the fear and pain with Sam. The views were everything you’d expect and more. It was a day I’ll never forget and so far, we’ve raised nearly £1000 for the elephants. Sam enjoyed it so much, she’s even talking of doing the Pyg walk again with Aimee, when her ankle is better. All the best to them. I’m keeping my feet on the flat from now on.
Thank you for reading about my Snowdon adventure. If you’re planning a climb, keep safe, train for the event and most of all, have a fantastic time. I’d love to hear about your experience too. Leave a comment if you wish.
Carla Kovach – author of Amazon and iBooks bestseller, The Next Girl.
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