A Knife Edged Ridge Hike up Mt Snowdon
Beautiful views of Snowdonia. Story and images courtesy of T Udomritkul
It’s a weekend escape from London Life. A three hour train journey takes me away from a sea of granite buildings to a rugged expanse of mountains, spring water tarns and charming villages. I am staying at Jesse & James bunkhouse for the evening, an independent lodge just a stone throw away from the way-marked mountain trails of Pen-Y-Pass. It's the longest day of the year today and the sun dwindles incessantly, resembling the ball of apprehension and excitement I have for my planned hike up to Mt Snowdon via a knife edged arête. My pre-trip preparation consisted only of an OS map, online route notes and the willingness to give it a go. We retire to bed early for the night, with the intent of an early morning start to avoid the crowds of the summer solstice.
The sun casts a honeycomb-like glow across the trail as we begin our ascent. I feel a little clumsy as I tread heavily over the rocky trail; I’ve grown far too accustom to the paved streets that is characteristic of urban living. Nevertheless I press on, soaking in the view of the craggy mountains rising high above us. We begin to abandon the crowds as we ascend further away from the car park and diverge off the popular Pyg’s Track towards Crib Goch – a knife edged mountain ridge that will eventually lead us to the summit of Mt Snowdon.
There is no longer a coherent track, I scramble upwards as I use my hands to steady myself. Shreds of misty cloud encircle the scrambling route and I feel my heart beat quicken with both fear and exertion.
We soon reach the beginning of Crib Goch. The clouds hang like a veil of concealment, distinguishing the danger of the sheer drops on both sides of the ridge. I feel a knot of fear tighten in my stomach and my hands reflectively reach out towards a rock in a meagre attempt to feel a sense of safety.
Fear had me temporarily rooted to the spot as I began to soak in the mountainous surroundings. Llyn Llydaw, a glacial lake, glistens beneath us like precious stones strewn across the water. The ridge despite being terrifying, also feels magnificent. I realise that we are in the topmost peaks of Snowdonia National Park and I feel a burst of renewed excitement. I clamber onwards, using my hands to steady my legs that shook like jelly throughout.
I breathe a sigh of utmost relief as we descend off the ridge and re-connect with the Pyg Track. Every step draws us ever closer to the summit of Mt Snowdon. There is a crowd of walkers on the trail which contrasts the bleak solitude of our ridge ascent. With a final push, we ascend rapidly and clamber towards the summit marker, a golden sun-dial atop a raised platform of rocks.
I’m here! 1,085m at the highest point of England/Wales! We linger together on the summit before making our way to Hafod Eryri, the summit café of Snowdon. At the café, I treat myself to a celebratory golden Welsh pastry. Overall, it was just a short weekend away that turned into an unforgettable days hike. It was a reminder that a weekend need not be characterised as just 2 days off work, but as a window of time where an idea or a spark of inspiration can evolve into an adventure.
Taking a rest on the away to the summit
Mt Snowdon's knife edge