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Winter Wonderland - The other Snowdon Horseshoe

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:31 pm
by clivegrif

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

There are few better places to be than Snowdon on a perfect winter’s day.
Up bleary and early – 4.30 in the morning – we set off under a starlit sky heading for North Wales. When we arrived at the foot of the Watkin Path the sun was just rising, and Snowdon was brilliantly white against a deep blue cloudless sky.
It would have been a perfect day for the truly wonderful Snowdon Horseshoe, but as two in our party had very limited winter mountain experience we opted for the longer but less technical alternative up the Watkin path and down the South East ridge.
For those who don’t know it, the route starts in Nant Gwynant, at a height of about 60 metres, and gently climbs the old mine track before climbing more steeply to the col between Snowdon and Lliwedd and then sharply up the South east face of Snowdon to the summit. The route down is along the Bwlch Main Ridge to the col below Yr Aran and then back down to the mine track.
The walk began quite gently, up through the trees and past the waterfalls where we got our first glimpse of high snow covered slopes.
Waterfalls and snow

The climb started in earnest at the old mine, and the usually obvious path faded into a few footprints in the even covering of snow. We zigzagged upwards quite steeply, which was a bit of a shock to our post-Christmas bodies! By now the sun was gleaming off the pristine white of the snow.
On the Watkin Path_072.JPG

The reward for reaching the col and the ridge line was the terrific view across the real Horseshoe, cradling Llyn Llydaw far below. The ice glistened on the exposed rocks, and the air was crystal clear.
ImageWatkin view by cliveg004, on Flickr
Onwards and upwards, getting our breath back along the ridge line before taking on the lung busting slog up the east face of Snowdon.
The way up_074.JPG

This stretch needed care, but the snow was good and firm. We had hardly seen a soul on our way up, but there was quite a crowd at the summit and all of them were taking in the sensational view on an exception day.
ImageSnowdon view by cliveg004, on Flickr
Snowdon view west_073.JPG

Time was getting on and it was too cold to hang around for long, so off we went down the Bwlch Main. This is a lovely ridge, not hard but with a couple of exposed spots that need a bit of care – and there are some spectacular photo points looking along the ridge towards Moel Hebog and the Irish Sea beyond.
ImageMerry Christmas viewers! by Clive Griffiths, on Flickr
Yr Aran_075.JPG

The end of the ridge dropped down sharply to the col below Yr Aran, and fortunately the usually boggy stretch back towards the mine track was nicely frozen. It was getting dark by the time we reached the cars, but what a wonderful day! The only fitting way to finish off a day like this was a decent pint in the PYG – just had to be done!

Re: Winter Wonderland - The other Snowdon Horseshoe

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:03 am
by poppiesrara
Beautiful, Clive! - the Bwlch Main shot is stunning...

I'm very wary of the last part of the Watkin ascent in the best of weather, so plenty of kudos for the less experienced parts of your group doing that in midwinter :clap:

Re: Winter Wonderland - The other Snowdon Horseshoe

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:57 am
by Alteknacker
Some great pics, Clive. When you get to the summit and there are X hundred people there, this is what my memory retains, and it's easy to forget a) what a great mountain it is; and b) how surprisingly easy it is to get away from the madding crowd!

Re: Winter Wonderland - The other Snowdon Horseshoe

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:25 pm
by johnkaysleftleg
Superb Clive :clap: really enjoyed both your superb photos and the report, once again :clap:

Re: Winter Wonderland - The other Snowdon Horseshoe

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:30 pm
by clivegrif
Thanks all! Its been a while since I've been on Snowdon having spent too long toiling up and down heathery lumps, so it was a great to have such a perfect day for my return to Proper Mountains.

Also thank you for the comments about the pics, you can see the one of the South East ridge elsewhere on this forum as well.