When Tom and I got invited to join a camping trip in Snowdonia we jumped at the chance. Both of us love camping and were in need of a mini-break. My sister, her husband and two friends were already going so we joined the party eagerly. The plan was to camp Saturday night, climb Snowdon on Sunday and head back on Monday morning. It turns out there was a lot I didn’t know about climbing Snowdon, so here’s 10 things I had no idea about that you may find useful if you’re considering a trip climbing Mount Snowdon:
1. It’s HIGH and STEEP
I know this probably sounds really ridiculous but I kiiiiind of thought that it was pretty much a big hill. When we were driving around Snowdonia towards our campsite the surrounding terrain was pretty terrifying. I knew it was high, I just didn’t know it was so STEEP. You couldn’t see the top of the mountain from the ground. It was literally in a cloud. Like in a Studio Ghibli film or something.
2. You’ll need the right kit
Leave your picnic baskets and summer dresses behind because you’re going to need to step it up a gear. You have to have walking shoes to protect your feet and ankles when scrambling up rocks, you’ll want to wear something flexible and water-resistant and lots of layers as the temperature at the top will most likely differ a lot from the top. Wear a comfy backpack in which to keep your kit.
I bought these Oboz walking boots before we went and I love them. They were incredibly comfy and gave my feet great protection. I walk pigeon toed so they gave my arches good support and held my ankles securely. There were a few times when I could have easily twisted my ankle if it wasn’t for these bad boys. I also didn’t get a single blister after six hours of walking. Do yourself a favour and get proper walking socks too. Grab a snazzy coloured pair to cheer yourself up after spending all that money.
Warning: do not put your walking boots on the next day if you can avoid it. Your feet will remember all the traumas of the day before and not thank you for it.
If you’re on a diet you better forget it for a day because you’re going to need to eat. I love love loved these Pip and Nut squeeze packs as I could get a big hit of protein and energy easily and quickly without faffing around with a sandwich. Fruit it great too as it will feel refreshing and give you sugar. I have never enjoyed an apple and banana more than half way up that mountain.
At the summit there is a cafe (for which you will queue forever) where you can buy pasties and snacks. Ditch the diet and grab something carby filled with cheese to give you the boost to make it back down.
Don’t skimp on the water either. You’ll need a lot to help you on your way. I drank 2 litres on the way up and another on the way down. Which leads me nicely on to number 4:
4. There is nowhere for a bush wee
Not even for boys.
5. You might need people to motivate you.
A little disclosure: In general, I am not a fit and active person. Yes I’m healthy, I eat OK and do yoga regularly, but I have very little strength and almost no stamina. This was a big physical challenge for me and it might be for you too. Two of the people in our group run regularly and they too found it hard going. We were all very tired on the way up and shaky on the way down. If you’re going in a group, you may need each other to keep going. Check in with everyone, distract them from their achey legs and encourage them to take regular breaks with food and water. I definitely needed the support from my group (especially my sister and boyfriend) to get me to the top and remind me that eventually my legs will stop hurting.
6. It might be busy
I was expecting to see the odd scattering of people here and there but a lot of the journey there were people right behind and in front of you. This was pretty helpful actually because, although sometimes I got a bit flustered thinking I was holding people up, it helped give me the momentum to keep going with the flow. Everyone was kind and waited for a point where they could pass me if they wanted to and many were happy
7. If you’re short…
My and my sister were not blessed with long legs. At some points we were taking steps as high as our legs could go. We basically lunged half of the journey. Try to surround yourself with taller people to help haul you up some of the tricky bits.
8. There are lots of trails to choose from
We climbed up Pyg Track and came down Miners. It was a bank holiday weekend and so it was quite busy – lots of people chose this trail. Pyg Track is one of the easier but not the easiest. It’s a meandering path with a steep finish.
Miners Track is a steep decent and then a long wind round the lakes (did you know Snowdon had lakes?!) It’s beautiful with plenty of spots to stop and rest your shaky legs.
9. No one will judge you
There were lots of different kinds of people climbing on the day we went. There were clear pros running up timing themselves, children trying it for the first time (and killin’ it), adults huffing and puffing their way up slowly everyone in between. Everyone is really supportive and friendly so you don’t need to feel embarrassed about taking breaks or going slowly if you need to.
10. You’ll feel GREAT for going it
If you’re someone like me who isn’t sporty or very active in general then this may be the biggest physical challenge that you’ve ever faced. Even if you find it hard and get grumpy (who me?) you will feel amazing when you get to the top and realise what you’ve done!