Walking Mount Snowdon in Winter
Q. Hi, My Wife and I Had planned to walk up Snowdon next weekend (07/02/09), I am reasonably experienced in winter conditions but my wife is not. In light of the recent weather (heavy snowfalls), I'm thinking it might not be such a great idea.
If we do go it will be up The Miners' Path as I believe this Is the least treacherous, am I right in thinking this?
Instead of Snowdon, can anyone recommend some good walks in Snowdonia that we could do instead. All comments greatly received.
Will Jefferies, London
A. I took my partner up Snowdon in November, High winds on the tops and snow, ice and general fun weather. We ascended via miners track and had a ball. I think it was one of the most memorable days we have had. Frozen hands, dark looks and the cafe closed. First time to the top of any mountain for my partner and I am a competent mountain walker. Overall, I think that experience and competence will see you so far - death is a great instructor but some days it is fun to dice with the devil. So, Miners Track is a definite go.
Gordon Biggerstaff, Llandudno
A. Hello there, I have just return from making the walk 3rd April  - and would say that I have never felt closer to death! We used the PYG track and the route was steep and very icey. That is it for me, sliding down the mountain and only just being able to stop before 100+ [m] drop - this is no longer for me. There is no easy route at this time of year [in snow and ice - see above Ed.]. My advice is to take your wife out for a nice pub lunch and forget the mountain . . . my knees are blue and I cant move my left arm and I generally feel like I have been in a car crash. Every time you get the idea to head up a mountain [in snow and ice] read this and don't do it ... Regards
Jeff Davies, Oakham
A. We walked the rail route last weekend 31.01.2010 - see walk gw126 Snowdon via The Llanberis Path. It was good going except for two sections. We had two of the group out of seven wearing crapons who were able to aid us up this route.
I would have been very uneasy without the aid of the guys with crampons.
The issue up there is one slip and you will be off an edge.
Paul Gray, Sheffield
A. Given that there have a been several tragic fatalities recently on Snowdon (involving 'experienced' walkers) this would (IMHO) be a very, very bad idea indeed.
The idea that, in snow and ice, there are less treacherous routes is a common misconception. In snow and icy conditions all routes in the high mountains are treacherous and no-one should venture out without an ice-axe, crampons and competent winter skills.
On Snowdon itself the main problem areas are:
Crib Goch: This edge has very steep sides and any fall here is virtually impossible to stop (or arrest) with your ice-axe.
The Llanberis Path: When snow covers the path walkers tend to follow the railway. However, above Clogwyn Coch the snow fills in the cutting and leads the unwary onto a bulging convex slope with sheer crags below. Any fall here is extremely difficult to arrest. (I understand that it was here that two walkers recently lost their lives)
The Pyg Track/Miners' Track: Reasonably level as far as Llyn Glaslyn but the route thereafter is very, very steep. Any fall here would be extremely difficult to arrest.
The Watkin Path: The upper section crosses steep ground above Bwlch Main and any slip here would be difficult to arrest.
The Rhyd-Ddu Path: Again the upper section at Lechlog crosses steep ground and then continues onto even steeper ground above Bwlch Main where it joins the Watkin Path route. Any slip in either location would be difficult to arrest.
For a choice of other walks in Snowdonia see our interactive walk maps based on Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps -
OL17 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa and Conwy Valley/Dyffryn Conwy,
OL18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala/Y Bala and
OL23 Cadair Idris & Bala Lake/Llyn Tegid.
Hope this helps you decide what to do