Are you thinking of climbing Snowdon for the very first time? It’s an achievable goal, but it’s no walk in the park, so read on before you start making your plans!
A few months ago I went on a big walk with my friend Laura, who said that she really wanted to climb Snowdon. “Well, let’s set a date then!”, I said, and thought absolutely no more of it. Mere days later there was a group chat, a date, and a beautiful cottage booked in the Welsh valleys, ready for a gang of girls to climb Mount Snowdon.
I’ve climbed the third largest UK peak a few times now and I’ve been lucky enough to have a smooth, enjoyable experience each time, although some of those occasions were more down to luck than careful planning. I know much better now, of course, so on this occasion my girl gang looked to me to be the responsible adult (gulp!). Here’s what we did on the day to ensure we had smooth climbing all the way!
It’s a challenging climb, but achievable
… Meaning that if you have a decent base of fitness, you should be able to do the Llanberis track (if not, get the train up! Just as fun). That doesn’t mean the climb should be taken lightly, however – always ensure you’re fully prepared and have somebody with you who is an experienced walker. It’s still a mountain climb and shouldn’t be underestimated.
You need to clip your toenails before you go
This one isn’t so sexy, but you’ll thank me for it. There’s nothing worse than coming down a mountain, exhausted, with feet swollen into the sides of your walking boots, and having your slightly-too-long toenails digging into the sides of your toes. It’s a pain you can’t get away from, takes ages to heal, and it’s easily solved by clipping your toenails before you go. Trust me on this one!
The weather and temperature can change on the way up
Snowdon is a long way up so conditions can change quickly as you ascend. Even if it’s beautiful when you start out, it could be snowy at the top, so make sure you’ve packed a couple of thin layers along with a thin waterproof jacket. I have a Goretex that I bundle up in the bottom of my bag, as well as a very thin sweat-wicking hoodie, and a ski base layer, just in case. You really don’t want to be stuck shivering in a random rainstorm, trying to use a rock as shelter.
Know when to carry on and when to turn back
Even if you’ve trained hard for this walk or planned the day for a long time, sometimes it’s just not safe to walk to the top. Conditions can change fast, so you need to be able to decide whether it’s safe to carry on, or whether the full party should turn back. Best to get back safe rather than pushing for the top with injuries, a mountain rescue call-out, or even worse.
You need to pack snacks… lots of them!
This one may seem obvious, however the second time I climbed Snowdon I did it with NO food or water packed as I assumed the cafe would be open at the top. It was out of season, so it was shut – which meant I went over five hours of exercise with nothing to eat or drink! The thought of doing that now makes me feel sick to my stomach, so learn from my mistake and pack lots of energy-dense snacks, like bananas, energy bars, or peanuts. There’s no right or wrong food to pack really, as long as you’ll find it palatable after some hard walking – in fact, vegan Percy Pigs were my main fuel on this climb!
Pick your path wisely
There are at six main routes up Snowdon with many more less popular ones, some more challenging than others – even challenging in different ways – so choose your route according to your group’s capability. We did the Pyg track up, which starts steeply but evens out about half an hour in, just at the point you’re thinking about sacking it off and going back to the car park; then we came down the Miners’ path which has some scrambling down rocks in the middle. It does require a bit of coordination and confidence, but it’s achievable for most.
Llanberis is probably the longest yet the flattest, with the real climb starting about two thirds of the way in. As mentioned previously, in high season there is a train that can take you to the top, then you can either train it back down or walk. If you get a real taste for this mountain there’s the Snowdon Horseshoe which looks absolutely epic – all of your party should be very confident walkers who are thoroughly prepared for this one, though.
It’ll give you a taste for more
Half way up Snowdon – sweating, aching, thirsty and hungry – you’ll be wondering why you even started, but get to the top for the fantastic views, the wind in your face, and the incredible sense of achievement, you’ll straight away be hungry for more. If you’re local to Manchester my favourite walks are Macclesfield’s White Nancy for a half day, and Edale’s Kinder Scout for a full day out (great pub at the bottom too). Further afield there’s the Yorkshire peaks and Ben Nevis, of course, which I haven’t done but is definitely on my list!
There’s still plenty of time this season to have a great trek up Snowdon (especially considering the amazing summer we’re having!) so I dare you to be like Laura – set a date and go for it with a bunch of friends. Just use these tips to make sure you’re fully prepared, and let me know how you get on!