Snowdon horseshoe and the subject of vertigo

Hewitts: Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl, Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa, Y Lliwedd

Date walked: 25/03/2019

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 12km

Ascent: 1181m

I know that vertigo is possibly not the correct term to use but if not, I'm not really sure what is. In my case it started on a clifftop path in Cornwall about 25 years ago when as the path got thinner and the slope towards the cliff got steeper I was worrying that 1 slip here and that'd be it when BOOM, suddenly panic set in and next thing I knew I was face down, dragging myself uphill through heather and gorse literally trying to be absorbed into the ground in sheer terror.
Fast forward to about 6 years ago and a trip to Wales reignited a love of the mountains from childhood holidays to Wales and Scotland and although in those days we didn't actually climb any hills, I wanted to start doing so.
I've gradually got more confident and more at ease on the mountains (I've never felt that I'm scared of heights, just scared of the drops... and scared of plummeting down to death)and last year did Beinn Alligin including the horns. But here's the thing with me: I had no problem with the horns, but beforehand when gaining the trig point on Tom na Gruagaich and being met with that awesome view I was gripping hold of the trig white knuckled and had to take some deep breaths and get control back.
More on this later.
Feeling quite proud after Alligin (and what a walk that is) I decided that after always wanting to do the SH but hadn't because of being too scared of Crib Goch, I was now bloody well going to....
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First target ahead

A pleasant man made path winds up from the car park to the foot of the east ridge so no probs there although it was worryingly windy with a chill that soon had me reaching for gloves, but once the the ridge ascent was started the gloves were soon back in the pack and surprisingly the wind died.
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First sight of Snowdon

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and with Y Lliwedd

At first the scramble is very easy , picking a way through to the start of a much steeper section. I had spoken to a young couple back in the car park and after a short almost vertical part, when reaching a respite, they appeared from the left looking slightly flustered. We asked each other if we were on the right track to which shoulders were shrugged with nervous smiles. I'd remembered reading that you pick your own route for the scramble up to the knife edge so cracked on where I'd decided was the best route. About 10 mins later after a real struggle using knees etc a guy had caught up with me so I asked if this was the correct way. He said he reckoned it was although it seemed a lot steeper than he remembered. The angle soon eased and it was a nice clamber up towards the ridge proper so we chatted and he asked what route was I taking. I said I was hoping to do the horseshoe as long as I didn't bottle it on the arete. He reassured me reminding that you could walk slightly to the left using the knife edge as a handrail. I asked if he'd seen the young couple and he said that sadly they had turned back presumably to continue on the pyg track.
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Topping out onto ridge proper

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I'm loving the look of this already I told him, please don't worry about me I'm gonna be fine, you crack on and enjoy your day, so he went on ahead of me but I know he slowed his pace, keeping an eye out because I'd said earlier about the worry of becoming cragfast.
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My mentor leading the way

There was no fear, just exhilaration and I kept to the top of the ridge and went straight over the pinnacles though heavy concentration was required especially on the narrow parts so no photo's taken there.
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Once down the last pinnacle I stopped for a snack and my friend said he was going to crack on now we were safely over Crib Goch (we never did swap names) so i wished him luck and thanked him for looking out for me.
Not once had I felt a wobble so far, so on the ascent of Crib y Ddysgl I took all available scrambling over the tops rather than the lower optional paths,
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Looking back to Crib Goch. Several tiny specs are walkers.

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Across to this afternoons ridge

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Looking back again

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The view from near Crib y Ddysgl summit

From there it was a straightforward walk down to the junction with the other paths, then up the wide end section of the Llanberris (tourist) path up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa
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Snowdon summit

Although there was quite a few people around, it was nothing like as crowded as last year when myself and (son) Lee ascended via the Watkin path. Although I'm not a fan of cafe's and the like on our mountains I admit that the thought of a nice strong builders tea was overwhelming so I was gutted to realise it was shut. I then realised that the train wasn't running which explained why there was relatively few people about. There's a kind of porch area to the locked doors and I was fffffuming to see it full of cans,plaggy bags and all sorts of sh!te :evil: :thumbdown:
I carried on a little further to find a nice sheltered flat spot to eat some peanuts,clementines and boost bar.2 boost bars :roll:
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Flat safe and completely non vertiginous

That's when, for no apparent reason I started to get the feelings of vertigo :wtf: :? I was thinking get a grip you're sat down for christ's sake, its flat with absolutely no danger. I thought back to last year when a couple of days after traversing the horns of Alligin with no problems I suddenly had an attack of vertigo....... on Beinn a'Chrulaiste,; thee most inoffensive hill imaginable. I'd also on several occasions when driving back after a mountain walk found myself gripped to the steering wheel like it was a jackpot winning lottery ticket when driving near edges with drops ( the road at the south side of Loch Leven when driving back to Caolasnacon campsite was 1) or even just bends in the road :shock:
I wonder whether it's because the feelings had been supressed in order to conquer the climbs, and then they'd surfaced later :?:
Maybe the concentration keeps it at bay and then as soon as you let your guard down.... :?:
Is it just me that's affected by such madness or is it a known thing :?:
Anyway after a bite to eat and a drink I moved on to meet the stone that marks the left turn off for the Watkin path. Once I'd stood up and was on the move again I was fine. As stated by Petr Dakota in his excellent report, the steep descent/ascent on the Watkin used to be very slippery gravel and scree but they have started to build a stone stepped path which was a huge improvement from last time. ( by the way; many thanks to Petr because it was reading his report whilst researching the horseshoe that finally spurred me on to attempt it )
A pleasant walk then leads you towards the impressive cliffs of Y Lliwedd
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Approaching the next scramble, up the imposing Y Lliwedd

It was an easy but enjoyable scramble all the way to the summit which, although there's no set route I naturally passed a fair number of cairns along the way. I found the summit, and in fact most of the cliffs from then on extremely vertiginous but at the same time alluring and fascinating. Yes I kept getting "the feeling" but at no time did I get the panic attack that I so dread and, to be fair, the cliffs are apparently the highest in England and Wales so I'd say expected/excusable :wink:
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Summit view with precipitous drop in front

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Across to the east peak

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From east peak, all the previous summits behind.

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Omfg !!!

The worst moment was looking down a huge cleft ( having already taken the above photo :lol: ) remembering looking down the Eag Dubh on Beinn Alligin with no probs, when it struck me that this 1 seemed way higher and steeper (tho not sure whether it actually is) and the tapering shape of the cliffs seemed to draw me in. I slowly and deliberately turned around and stepped away a few paces, took a few deep breaths until I regained composure. I'm hoping that this proves that I can control the fear and so, preventing any panic setting in. It certainly didn't stop me from staying close to the edge during the descent so as not to miss the best views; which were still spectacular.
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Now that's peak shaped !

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It's then just a good old rough mountain path descent until meeting up with the Miners track which is a boring gravel track (well that part is anyway) but at least you can finish quickly on tired feet.
So! I did it! I have to admit to feeling quite proud of myself whilst trudging the last part of the Miners track. But I'm none the wiser in the antics of vertigo; I crested the top of Crib Goch with no fear, which is something I never would have believed, but then got jelly legs,clenchy buttocks and butterfly belly whilst sitting down :wtf: :lol: I dunno,
I suppose this all leads to 1 question;
what dya reckon about Liathach? ..........

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Comments: 14

Cul Beag

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Cul Beag
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Views: 12

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Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Starav
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Attachment(s) Munros: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)
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Views: 79

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Date walked: 06/06/2017
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Views: 85


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Activity: Wanderer
Pub: abstaining
Mountain: stob dearg
Place: glen coe
Gear: mammut boots
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Ideal day out: any escape to mountainous landscape

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