To Pyg n Hell and Back!

To Pyg n Hell and Back!


The day in question was August Bank Holiday Monday the 30th August.  Mark’s one ambition has always been to climb Mount Snowdon and he had more reason now what with a cache being located somewhere along the Pyg Track.  I decided to go with him just for moral support – there was no way on this earth with my fear of heights that I had any inclination or ambition to climb this big chunk of mountain!  We took Emma with us (just for the ride of course.  She was to stay and keep me company). Emma is our 6 year old Lancashire Heeler, she is fit and healthy but rather small to climb such a big mountain.

We arrived at the designated car park (the one which is to be used during the “Hard part of Snowdon Easy or Hard”) at approx 9.45am and we managed to bag the very last parking space.  By the time we had parked up, I had made the rather rash and regrettable decision to accompany Mark for part of the way (after all it can’t be such a hard walk as this is the chosen route for the forthcoming cache event on the summit of Snowdon on 18th September).

It was really windy as we all set off.  We were fully kitted out: we had the Gps, our new walkie talkies, waterproofs, whistle, compass, plenty of hot and cold drinks and butties. Emma even had her own bag of fresh chicken pieces (Sunday left-overs) and a bag of bone biscuits, plenty of water and her water bowl etc etc etc.

We set off from the rear of the car park and took our first tentative steps onto the Pyg Track the first couple of hundred yards were ok.  Then we came to the first steps some of which were almost my whole leg height!  I had second thoughts at that point, but thought I will give it a go for a while at least.  So up we went.  Other walkers were in front of us – they were disappearing upwards in front of us.  By the time I took this, the first photo of the Llanberris Pass from the path it was too late for me to turn back.  There was no way I was able to go back not because I was enjoying myself, but because I would never be able to get back down the steps and rocky parts without a great deal of help.

pyg trail

I was committed (in more ways than one) the only way was up and up and up.  We continued onwards and eventually we reached the top of the first part.  We turned left and over the stile.  Joy of joy’s a proper footpath, I actually began to enjoy myself! Mark took another photo of me with our little Emma. Note the lovely footpath and the not too steep steps!

If it was like this now all the way to the top I could make it.  A little further on Mark took this photo of Emma and I above one of the two lakes that could be seen below.

This was the point where I began to regret my decision yet again. This time it was with just cause. The footpath was behind me. Where you might say, down over the edge and made of the type of rock; (smooth and unrelenting) that you see in the left side of the picture.  This was the last photo we took, as the rain had just started and the path just got harder and harder not to mention steeper and steeper and not forgetting more and more we had to navigate up rocks.  I inched my way upwards.  The nice path had now totally disappeared and it was now mostly climbing over rocky outcrops and big steps here and there.

Mark and Emma were navigating all in their path like the archetypical  mountain goats. That lack of fear and four legs bring.  I was petrified of falling and was moving forward extremely cautiously with Mark’s help.

Pyg track Snowdonia

By this time people were passing us on their way down, the same people who had already passed us on the way up!  But I was getting there slowly and there was definitely only one way to go now.  I just could not go back.  I began to think that I would get the train down (overcoming yet another bad memory) which was worse at this point I couldn’t decide.  As people going down the mountain started to say that we were only 30 minutes from the top I knew that I had nearly made it.  I decided that I just had to buy one of the “I Climbed Snowdon type Tshirts” – once I had made it that is.

Between us and the top there was another big rock face to get up.  I made it eventually only to be faced by a sheer set of steps even bigger than those we had already climbed.  I could hear people talking, voices of people we couldn’t see.  We must be nearly there, I could even hear the howling wind blowing through nylon waterproofs.  One last push, though by this time I thought I could not find the energy to climb the last few steps.  Mark and Emma disappeared in front and above me.  They had made it.  I had just a couple more steps to go.  Mark had to pull me up onto the ridge at the top.  As the last step was too steep for my short legs.

The wind and cold hit us all like a thump.  Poor Emma was trying to find somewhere to hide in the rocks to get out of it.  Of course there was nowhere to hide.  The mist was so bad that we could only see a couple of feet in front of us.  We trudged on upwards being passed by a train.  We heard it whistling as it arrived into the Summit Station.  I did not think that I could find another ounce of energy but then Mark pointed out the railings at the station.  A lot of mixed emotions went through me.  I had made it.  I had conquered Snowdon but not my fear of heights.  Now all I had to do was to find a way down.  Definitely not the same way we had ascended.

We got into the Summit Station out of the howling wind.  I went straight to the “Ladies” and ended up bawling my eyes out I don’t know why just being a big whimp I suppose.   After this I left Emma with Mark while I went into the shop to get my T Shirt which was to be my reward, but they did not have any.  Well that put the top hat on my feelings all that effort and fear and I could not even have my reward.  Gutted I was.  I got talking to two of the Mountain Rescue Team who were in the Station taking donations.  Well I may as well I would probably need their help in the near future.  They had two of their Search and Rescue dogs with them and Emma gave them both a big lick, could it be she was having the same thoughts as me.

pyg snowdonia

Now, for the descent.  The train was out, as dogs are not allowed, not even a poor little one such as Emma.  So we were going to have to walk down one way or another.  I asked for advice from the Mountain Rescue guys and they recommended the Rangers Path. The most popular path.

Mark would make his way back the way we had come.  I was in trouble because the Gps was all over on the way up. (I am responsible for satellites not working) as well as for it taking nearly 5 hours to reach the summit, and for missing the cache.  Emma and I faced a 2 to 2.30 walk down the Rangers Path.  We arranged to meet up at the base Railway Station in Llanberris.

Emma and I set off.  We could see but a couple of feet in front of us as we walked or should I say hobbled as the big muscle at the top of my leg kept cramping up.

We had just one rest break on the way down which was when Emma began limping and I thought I was going to have to empty my rucksack so that I could carry her, but after she had eaten all her chicken and some of her biscuits the game little Lancashire Heeler was ready to continue.  We took our time on the descent. I was trying to let Emma walk on the grass at the side of the track to ease her little paws.

The mist cleared the nearer we got to Llanberris. The end was finally in sight.  We got to meet quite a few really nice strangers on the way down, most of whom were very interested in our hobby of geocaching, a few of them even noted the web address of the website so that they could have a look at it.

There was never a more welcome sight as the station and the picnic benches outside the café.  Emma and I bagged one and had a well earned sit down.  Strangely enough the same two Mountain Rescue guys and their Search dogs were now down at the base station.  They even had the nerve to ask if we were following them of course they were joking and we had quite a light hearted banter with them.  Emma again licked the two Rescue Dogs.  I am sure that she was just as glad as I was to be off the mountain.

Again my thoughts turned to my elusive “I’ve climbed Snowdon T Shirt” so Emma and I walked over to the shop.  We were greeted with a “Dogs Not Allowed” sign.  I couldn’t even go into the shop.  We stood around and got talking with a nice woman who said she would go in and ask if they had any in stock for me.  Would you believe they had sold out as well.  So that was that.  We just sat down again and waited for Mark to come rescue us.

When Mark arrived in our little car, it was such a welcome sight.  He had even found the Pyg n Hellcache on the way down – he is such a superstar (if a Cave Troll could be called a superstar).  It was our one chance and Mark cracked it.  He then met up with a couple who were coming down via the Miners Track he was invited to walk with them again this couple were really interested in the sport of Geocaching and were intrigued as to the workings of the Gps.  We know one thing that is that neither of us have any intention of ever trying to conquer Snowdon again.  Not in this life anyway, and not even a T Shirt to mark the occasion.

Joan Smith

The Morning of the 31st August.  The day after  “We Climbed Mount Snowdon”

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