Ascent of Snowdon – 10th October
An early start, 3 hour, 150 mile drive and I arrived in Llanberis at just before 09:30. The Victoria Hotel car park was closed for some reason so I had to park in the pay and display council one just up the road. This caused a problem as I’d no change, having expected to park in the manned Victoria one. There was only one other car there, with 3 walkers getting their kit together. I asked if they had any change, but no, they’ed planned to do the same as me, and had just about managed to get 4 pound coins together between them!
So my ascent of snowdon started with a trip to the Llanberis branch of Londis to buy a random item to get some change!
I had two plans in mind, straight up and back down the Llanberis Path, or up it and then down Rangers and Telegraph valley. I’d make the call when I got up on the mountain and saw what conditions were like. The first 1/2 mile out of town is a vicious tarmac climb that kills your ‘not warmed up’ legs, fortunately it’d been freshly resurfaced so at least it was nice and smooth.
Soon I was off the road and onto bridleway. Climbing over a ridge and looking toward the summit, it was now shrouded in light cloud. As I’d driven from Capel Curig earlier it had been clear. The forecast was for the cloud cover to get progressively worse and after dinner heavy showers with a risk of thunder… it looked like they were going to be right. Riding a bike on a mountain in a thunder storm, was not a place I wanted to be so I pushed on.
The bridleway snaked on into the distance, with just the occasional walker. A massive difference to the Pyg and Miners paths that come up from Pen-y-pass, that looked very busy as I got to the top of the pass on the drive into Llanberis. Just the occasional bit of bike pushing on steeper rocky sections soon saw me reach the Cafe at Halfway House. The plan was to stop here, but several walkers were hanging about outside and some had already stopped me earlier and commented on the size of the bikes wheels. I didn’t want to stop and end up talking rather than just eating so decided to push on and find a sheltered spot to put more layers on and grab some food.
Looking up, the cloud base had lowered and it was just above the railway/path crossover point at Clogwyn Station, about 1000ft from the summit. I pushed the bike up the very steep section before this, and on reaching it sheltered behind it from the now increasing wind, to put on my final layer of clothes. I now had a choice, I could continue on up the bridleway, a very steep loose section that would be a real nightmare to push the bike up, or ride up the side of the mountain railway. It would be a longer climb, but it would be pretty much rideable all the way.
As the mountain railway was shut for the winter I chose the latter option and soon I was alone and dissappearing into the grey mist following the line that hugs the side of the mountain. I kept ‘mountain side’ of the line, very aware of the fact that the other side of the line being ‘just greyness’ probably meant it was a long way down.
The constant climb and the draggyness of the loose railway ballast I was riding over meant it was harder than I’d expected. I came to the conclusion that I’d made a bad call, and I’d have probably been better facing a short very steep push rather than this. The other call I had to make was the route down, and looking at the rate that the cloud base had come descended I decided to get down the way I came up.
I quick leg rest at a section where the wind seemed to die down allowed for a couple of photos of the bike in snow drifts. No time to hang around, so I continued on. Then suddenly out of the gloom I saw walkers crossing the line. This must be the point were the Ranger and Pygpaths converge. Not too far to go now, and strangely my legs seemed to find that bit more energy to carry on. Soon the Summit station appeared in the mist, so now there was a push up the embankment onto the final section of path up to the summit.
This is just steps so I had no choice but to put the bike on my shoulder and carry it up. This section was quite busy and there were numerous comments about the bike and some weird questions like “have you ridden that bike up here”…. “erm… yeah!?” The strange looks and comments continued as I waited for a less crowded time at the trig point at the top. Seeing the trig point clear I seized my chance, got the bike on my shoulder and climbed up. “This is my 30 second slot, get out of the way!”
A couple of blokes came up the other side, we congratulated each other, commented on the view, and I asked one of them to get the summit photo.
Soon I was heading back down the steps, and putting on some thicker gloves prepared to ride down, not taking the railway this time! Dropping past the train/path crossover point the cloud base was even lower and looking back I was unable to see the ridge line that the Rangers Path runs down… this was a good call! I wasn’t too bothered as the Llanberis path turned out to be a fantastic descent. Occasional drops of rain fell as I came down, and looking back the clouds over the mountain had turned from light grey to dark.
Fifteen minutes later I rolled up outside “Pete’s Eats” the best cafe in Llanberis. I ordered my food, sat down, looked out of the window and the rain was pouring down….
After a well earned all day breakfast I looked up at the sky, it seemed like the rain was here for the rest of the day, so I decided to head to Southport and my B&B for the night, and forget any other riding near Llanberis.
Snowdon on a fat bike…. Done!
Some height stats – Llanberis is 353ft (108m) above sea level, Snowdon Summit is 3560ft (1090m) giving a total overall ascent of 3207ft about 2/3 of a mile.
Ride – #188 Bike – ’12 Salsa Mukluk 3
Miles – 11.4 Total 2012 miles – 4176.9 (823.1 to hit 5000)
Strava – http://app.strava.com/rides/27400406