Can enthusiasm alone get you up Snowdon?
As I drove to Wales under overcast skies I hoped so. By the time I reached North Wales, it was very cold but the sun was out. The challenge of getting up Snowdon seemed do-able.
The plan was to walk up the mountain for Comic Relief. Anyone I knew who knew Snowdon, baulked at the idea of a group of, mostly, novice walkers heading up the mountain on 2nd March. Still in winter condition and topped with snow, local guides advise caution.
When the weather is good, being in the mountains is a glorious gift. When it is bad, it’s unforgiving and it can be utterly miserable.
Comic Relief raises money to support disadvantaged people in the UK and around the world. People who wake up each day to the challenge of poverty, promoting projects to creating lasting change. A walk up Snowdon seemed a suitable challenge.
Summit weather the weekend before was foggy, -13 and 30 mph winds. A very grim day out. A friend simply suggested if we got there on Saturday and the weather was poor to reconvene in 6 weeks. By then the mountain train is running, providing an exit strategy (as long as you can get to the top). The summit cafe is open for shelter from rain and cold. Spring weather is more reliable. As much as that seemed a good idea, the date was set, people had arranged to travel from as far away as Cornwall and Kent. By Friday evening a group of bloggers had raised £4,000 for the charity based on Annie’s, Penny’s and Mummy Barrow’s experiences in Ghana. The motivation and enthusiasm was available in bucketfuls.
Statistically Britain’s most popular mountain and statistically the most dangerous. Without proper preparation and kit it can easily become a hazard. The mountain rescue website has an entire page dedicated to the failings of charity walks up the mountain and how to avoid them; “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”.
The group called in favours, borrowing rucksacks and waterproofs, they packed wooly hats and gloves, Hitech provided walking socks, people brought new boots. Came prepared with flasks. Gower Cottage supplied delicious Brownies for the snack stops. The YHA Snowdon ranger hostel, nestled below the mountain at Rhyd Ddu offered warm beds and packed lunches.
The enthusiasm of 21 people as they donned beautifully made red pants at 8.30 am in Pen Y Pass car park was palpable. An early start gives time enough to complete the walk in daylight hours, at a steady pace with stops for food and drink. Any route up Snowdon is a long walk. All the routes are ‘hard’. It’s a challenging terrain. Our route; the miners path, a shorter and a popular route up the mountain, required some scrabbling and negotiation of small paths covered in loose rock. When anyone flagged there were encouragement and smiles. Onwards and upwards we went. Across slush, snow and ice. Blessed with cold blue skies.
At 1pm we reached the summit. The sense of achievement was huge.
The Llanberis path down is 4 and half miles. The ‘down’ puts strain knees and toes. Getting a group to the top isn’t the hard part getting the group down is, say Mountain Rescue. At 4.30 pm a very weary but happy group were safely in Llanberis. Snowdon gave us it’s best.
Enthusiasm works well but not in isolation, someone who can read a map and compass when visibly is lost in cloud, someone who knows the paths that are not always obvious. Someone who has confidence if something does go wrong. That experience helps a lot. I am very grateful to the two locals friends who offered to provide that, because that effectively gets a group up a mountain.
There is no doubt Snowdon is a challenge, it’s not for the faint hearted and I’m proud to say we did it and in doing say SO FAR, due to the generosity of others, we’ve raised £5,500.
Thank you very very much to everyone who has sponsored us.
“People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to malaria. In 2010, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region, mostly among children under five years of age”.
World Heath Authority
As Mummy Barrow reminded me; essentially our challenge brought 1,000 mosquito nets. Please help us raise more money. Sponsor: Red Nose Teamhonk Snowdon Challenge and help us hit £6,000.
Check out all the
bloggers climbers here.