This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for June 10th, 2014

Crib Goch

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

Before you ask, we did not go on Crib Goch, but I searched for a few YouTube videos to show why. ūüôā If you suffer from acrophobia or vertigo, you might want to skip these.

Crib Goch in fog (one of the most common weather conditions):

Crib Goch in good weather:

Crib Goch in winter (gets better after the intro because you can hardly hear anything over the wind). You can understand why Sir Hillary did his Mt. Everest practice runs on Mt. Snowdon.

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Snowdon Summit

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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We were lucky that the clouds had cleared when we reached the top of Snowdon. If you arrive during a cloudy patch, you see nothing but fog and it’s very cold up there. Winds can reach 200 mph on the summit. Above, you can see both Llyn Glaslyn and LLyn¬†Llydaw. The path on the left is part of the Miner’s Trail, which we took¬†on the descent.

The ridge in the next photo is part of the Horseshoe Trail (one of the dangerous routes), which gives you an idea of Crib Goch. One¬†walks along a knife-edge ridge, created by two parallel glaciers carving the valleys on either side, with drops of hundreds of meters on either side. There is no escape route–you go forward or back. When it’s windy and visibility is very poor, you can understand how people run into trouble. About 15 people a year die on Snowdon.

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Hikers eating lunch in the clouds. It looks safe, but you can go rolling over the cliffs if you slip. By the time we got to the top of Snowdon I didn’t feel like climbing down to the grassy areas, so we ate near the steps of the visitor center.

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Brass plaque on top of the cairn points out the landmarks surrounding Snowdon. On a clear day you can see Ireland and England’s peak district.

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This photo shows the ridge of Crib Goch, about a third of the way from the left. the path halfway up the slope is the Pyg Trail. The one winding around the lake is the Miner’s Trail.

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Mount Snowdon: “Pyg Up, Miner Down”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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“Pyg up, Miner down” was the advice some rather merry Welshmen in the hotel bar offered¬†my husband.¬†There are six main trails to Mount Snowdon: Llanberis and all the rest. Llanberis is not too challenging and roughly follows the railway line. All the other climbs are a bit more strenuous. One or two fall into the “not recommended unless you are an experienced mountaineer with¬†paid-up life insurance” (that doesn’t stop people from trying).¬†Although Mount Snowdon is only 1000 meters high (in other words, not high by world standards), it’s made more challenging by slippery rocks, high winds, very changeable weather, and poor visibility. If you are in good physical shape and allow enough time (3-4 hours each way is a realistic estimate) and choose good weather, you will have no problem. If you¬†set out 2 hours before darkness or choose a rainy day to walk Crib Goch, your chances of injury or death are a lot higher.

The origin of the name “Pyg” (sometimes spelled “Pig”) is uncertain. It’s a good trail for ascending Mount Snowdon if you’re staying in Betws y Coed because it starts at¬†Pen y Pass, which has the highest elevation of the various starting points (so less uphill climb) and is fairly close to Betws y Coed. We¬†took Sherpa bus #2 to the Pen y Pass parking lot.¬†There is a helicopter landing point at the beginning of the trail. The blue helicopters haul huge stones to repair the paths. The rescue helicopters are yellow.

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The beginning of the Pyg trail is an easy, occasionally steep climb. The peak just ahead is not Snowdon but Crib Goch, a dangerous knife edge with drops of 100s of meters on either side. That ridge also has the most changeable weather. Walking a knife edge in fog is not my idea of a good time.

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Assuming that you don’t turn right up Crib Goch, but turn left over the ridge, you see¬†Llyn Llydaw (Lake Brittany), a large glacial lake with a causeway crossing it. The lakes are blue from the copper (these mountains were mined for copper and slate). The causeway was built in 1853 for the Brittania Copper Mine company, to allow horses and wagons of copper to cross.¬†The lake had to be drained by 12 meters in order to build the causeway. Before that time, a raft was used to transport the horses and wagons.

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First view of Mount Snowden, the peak on the right side of the next photo. The lake is Llyn Glaslyn.

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View of Llyn Glaslyn on the ascent up Mount Snowdon itself. You might notice that the weather is constantly changing in these photos. We chose a partly cloudy day. When it’s sunny, you could walk around in a light shirt. When the clouds descend and the wind picks up, you need a hat and gloves. No joke. You really have to dress for¬†a wider range of weather conditions and rockier paths than what we’re used to.

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