Three Peaks Day 4 – Mount Snowdon, Wales

Once again we travelled the day before to our next stop, the Snowdonia mountain range in Wales. The place we stayed this time was very close to our starting point, but the weather was awful. The past couple of days hadn’t been that bad even though there was evidence of overnight rain it hadn’t rained during a climb. This time we were starting a climb in the rain with at least two of us struggling to walk on blistered feet.

The first thirty minutes were uncomfortable because of this but eventually as the rough path gave way to waterlogged fields it started to become easier on the feet, but harder work moving forward as the rain continued to make the track worse. In some places the mud was so bad it was like it wanted to suck your own feet from you so it could keep them for itself. It didn’t really bother us though, this was the last mountain and we weren’t about to let some bad weather stop us.

As we got higher up the mountain the wind started to pick up and due to something being blown from a friends hand (can’t remember what now) we ended up leaving the track and continued directly up the side of the mountain. This was our mistake. Once we got off the track the wind changed from being a gale force to one that started to remind me of the wind on Mount Tongariro. As the wind got worse we had to shelter in a sort of alcove in the mountain just so we could catch the breath that had been blown from us. Once we were ready we started to continue and that’s when the wind took a turn for the worse. No longer able to stay on our feet a few of us were swept from our feet and blown across the grassy side of the mountain straight into a wire fence. Those that had more or less stayed on their feet clambered over the fence, and whilst keeping low made a run for cover behind a large rock. Once there was a big enough lull in the wind we followed suit and joined the others behind the rock.

It was whilst sheltering behind the rock we realised that in winds like this it was not safe to climb a mountain. We knew the higher we got the worse it would be, so with much regret and consideration we decided to abandon the mountain and to start heading back down. Unfortunately our attempt to leave the mountain wasn’t to succeed. We attempted to make a run for the fence so we could get over it and make our way back to the path but the wind was so strong we couldn’t even push against the wind to make it. Without having even reached the fence we had to abandon our attempt to get off the mountain and swiftly returned to the cover behind the rock. It was obvious at this point it wasn’t a question of whether we could climb the mountain, but whether we could actually get off it. With the wind picking up in speed it meant the temperature was dropping – one of my friends seriously considered using a survival bag at this point to try and conserve heat. Instead we decided to try and find a different way off the mountain. Cautiously we tried to descend down into the gulley which we were sheltering above, but a check of the map made us realise we weren’t going to get anywhere going that way – our only choice was to fight the wind and to make it back to the other side of the fence.

With some luck the wind did lessen somewhat which helped us fight against it’s almighty force and we did indeed make it back over the fence. Every step we took was a cautious one and we were constantly checking to make sure everyone was still safe and keeping low. After what seemed like forever we eventually made it below the level of the wind and got off the mountain.

This was the supposed to have been the easiest, but it defeated us. Although disheartened in this defeat we have vowed to climb Mount Snowdon again when the weather isn’t so challenging.

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