On a trip to Snowdonia shooting work for Black Dots, project work was put on hold for a day and Andy & myself decided to tackle the Crib Goch route up Snowdon. It's arguably the toughest route up and one of the most popular ridge walks the UK has to offer. It's a hair raising scramble in fair weather, so with thick snow and ice we knew this was going to be a pretty insane day on the hills! From the hostel window we could see the north-eastern face of the ridge; an imposing slope of black rock shrouded in heavy cloud. We packed light and set off on the Pyg Track.
For the less-beady eyed hill walker, the turn off for Crib Goch is easily missed; essentially a subtle gap between rocks and a modest signpost. From here, the ground gets increasingly more difficult to cover, made more difficult by the layers of snow covering the already faint track through the boulders. A combination of a GPS and being able to trace crampon tracks, made for a relatively clean (but slow) assent up to the start of the ridge. The clouds were going through phases of breaking up -giving the sun a chance to illuminate the landscape below us - and closing back in again, plunging the mountain into a heavy grey fog. There was an abundance of photographic opportunities, but also a very limited amount of time to reach the summit and get back down again, so we did the best we could before continuing up through the snowline and towards the ridge.
As we continued to climb past the snowline, the weather closed in on us. Waves of white and grey folded over the summit of Snowdon and we soon found ourselves in a white out. The crampon tracks were still visible, and we still had a decent GPS signal so we slowly edged our way across the ridge - acutely aware of the sheer drop on either side of us. Crib Goch is broken into sections of pretty standard ridge walking, and some tricky pinnacles which require a bit of time to pass over. As we negotiated these difficult sections the clouds would occasionally part, offering a gentle reminder of how close to a 1000m drop we actually were. With visibility decreasing, light fading and the weather worsening, we successfully reached the trig point on Crib Goch.
By the time we put hands on the trig point, we were almost completely out of light. Starting a descent earlier than planned is a tough decision to make as we were only a short walk from the summit of Snowdon by this point. However with our headtorches on and the weather getting uglier, we made the decision to start our climb down towards the miners track. As we got lower, snow turned to sleet which turned to rain, and the slow trudge on the now level terrain was done in silence. The track snaked it's way around the foot of the mountain, until the lights of the hostel came into view. A decent day on the hills concluded by a fair few beers and a decent meal!